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June 21, 2013

WOLFSIE: Retiring minds want to know

My wife was confi-dent that her retirement would be an easy transi-tion to make. One day she would be hard at work at the office; then suddenly, she wouldn’t be. Simple as that. But for the first half of June, she kept asking me what day of the week it was and when I went back in the bedroom one morning while she was still sleeping, she opened her eyes and asked me if I had an appointment. I told her it was no longer necessary to pack her lunch before she went to bed, nor did she have to eat her sandwich out of a Tupperware container.

Our first vacation to celebrate her retirement was to South Carolina for a look at historic Charleston. We always have great guides, but my problem is that I can never remember anything they tell me, especially if they start ranting about whose sister married whose cousin who moved to Virginia who then settled in Charleston before rebuilding this house and adding an extension that still has the original wallpaper.

But when I hear something interesting like: “The slaves were instructed to whistle while transporting the master’s dinner from the kitchen to the dining room, to ensure they didn’t sample the food,” well, I’ll never forget that little tidbit. But I probably should, because apparently it is not true — at least according to a website called American History Myths. I’m gonna cut the guide some slack here. I’d rather remember something that was incorrect than remember nothing at all. I started to feel more strongly about this when I turned 65.

At one self-guided tour site, we placed headphones on and hung a recording device around our necks. We were then directed to the first room of this celebrated home of someone whose name I don’t remember who did something I never heard of. But the real problem was that my wife and I did not push our start buttons at exactly the same time. The result was that when her headset was telling her to look up at a 200-year-old chandelier, mine was instructing me to behold the magnificent original carpeting. Seeing me look down, Mary Ellen thought I was uninterested and kept poking me to pay attention.

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