(Email from years ago.)
There was a kid here at work a few years ago, a nice kid, good looking, sensitive, Appalachian, smart as hell, woodsy, a musician. He’s a member of a local comedy troupe that are popular in Hollywood as those things go. One day he came to me looking depressed and scared and said he’d been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. So sad. Welcome to the short bus, motherfucker, I said. I always say that. One of those cognitive issues in-jokes. He laughed. Being that I was the big brotherly epileptic guy in the office, he asked for advice about how to remember to take his meds and how not to lose his car keys, things that seem minor unless your memory is degenerating. I filled him in best as I knew on sundry disability things like the Americans with Disabilities Act, which helped him get a permanent medical leave, and where to leave those car keys (the exact same spot every night.) About how leaving notes around doesn’t seem to work and all you do is find notes around later that you forgot were there. I told him how to make himself a little boring, unchanging, because deeply seated memories, rote things, seem to have a lasting power that regular memory doesn’t. I went over some tricks with names you can’t remember and faces you can’t recall. I tried my best to cheer him up, but the poor kid was so depressed. I said look, you’ll adapt, your life will continue. He said no, it’s over, no job, no more playing guitar and no more comedy. Certainly no girlfriend. Not even a date….what girl would want to go out with a guy with MS? I said dude, you don’t get it: you are now a Chick Magnet. He shook his head. I said Yup. You’ll bring it out in them. They’ll love you to death. He was skeptical. No way, he said, and moped off to wallow in the thoughts the brain impaired wallow in.
Fast forward a few months and he’s still playing guitar and still doing improv. And he’s dating a big six figure television star. She’s rich, successful and nuts about him. Even talked all about him on late night TV, in front of god and studio execs and everybody. He blushed. I laughed. If it hadn’t been for his mildly damaged brain, his MS, she would not have paid attention to him at all. Well, maybe, but he would have just another cognitively fully functioning guy, and you know how dull they are. Dime a dozen, perfectly self-sufficient and always seem to know where their car keys are.
Play your cards right and a little brain damage might be the best thing that ever happened to you. Remember that. Of course you all can remember that. But we have to leave little post it notes around the house, and you know how well that works.