"Papa, all I’m saying is that there are five symptoms, and we should consider them.” Reading from a piece of paper, she said, in as cooperative and supportive a voice as she could muster, “First, asking the same questions repeatedly. Second, becoming lost in familiar places. Third, being unable to follow directions. Fourth, getting disoriented about time, people, and places. And fifth, neglecting personal safety, hygiene, and nutrition.”
Number one. Getting people to repeat their own questions forces them to figure out what they’re asking. If you’re not willing to ask a question three times, then you don’t really want to know the answer. Number two, you have brought me to Norway. Nothing’s familiar. I can’t become lost in familiar places. I just become lost. Number three, I don’t speak Norwegian, so I can’t follow any directions. If I understood . . . that would be demented. Number four, I don’t know of any half-intelligent, self-aware person who, if they give it a moment’s thought, doesn't find time, people, or places all highly disorienting. In fact, what is there to disorient us other than time, people, or places? And for the three-part finale, I say this. I have no idea what it means to be neglectful of personal safety. As measured against what? Under what conditions? As judged by whom? I've sailed into a storm of tracer bullets, face first, on the Yellow Sea at dawn. Was I neglectful? I married a woman and stayed with her until the end of her life. You call that safe? As for hygiene, I brush my teeth and shower daily. The only one who thinks I’m dirty is someone who thinks I don’t belong, and so is probably an anti-Semite, and you can tell him Sheldon Horowitz says so. And nutrition? I’m eighty-two and I’m alive.
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