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The Cutlery Caper


Pauline Nevins May 3, 2023 - Auburn Journal

I heard a muffled clang when I climbed into my car last week and casually tossed what was in my hand onto the passenger seat. What the …?

I’d walked out of the café with a stainless steel knife and fork! I gave a furtive look around, then slowly backed out of the parking space, too ashamed to return the utensils. Pauline, a voice said, take them back.

Inside the café, the pleasant curly haired chap who served me lunch was cleaning the glass patio door. He stopped, gave one of those “V” signs with his fingers where he pointed at his own eyes, then at me, and smiled. “I see you, Pauline,” he said. How did he know my name? Oh, yes, he’d written my lunch ticket.

I gave him a tight smile and handed over the cutlery to the young woman behind the counter with an “I’m sorry.” She gave me a look typically reserved for mental patients. “No problem,” she replied, reaching for a slip of paper. My lunch ticket? I saw her scribble something. She’s put an asterisk by my name, I thought. I’m now on the Restaurant Watch List!


At home, I wracked my brain wondering how I could have done what I did. People walk out of restaurants all the time with things. I knew that. But they were small things, in tiny paper packets – not place settings!


I clicked on the computer. I needed to sort this out. My eldest son, Dean, has a doctorate degree, so he’s certifiably clever. If he has a health question, he goes to a primary source – the Mayo Clinic. I tapped in the URL. Up popped these reassuring words: When You Need Answers, You Know Where to Go.

I typed in “forgetfulness,” although I wasn’t sure that was an accurate symptom. The knife and fork I’d scarpered with were unused. I’d ordered soup.

A list of headings appeared on the website. At the top – The Study of Nasal Insulin in the Fight Against Forgetfulness (SNIFF). Clever acronym. I’d check that out later. Vitamin Deficiency Anemia – Symptoms and Causes. Another study to study. Drugs and their side effects followed. I don’t take any medication.

A term appeared I could understand: Behavioral Neurology.


I recited aloud the list of symptoms: aggressive behavior, confusion, delusions, disorientation, forgetfulness, hallucinations, language difficulties, memory loss, personality and behavior changes, poor judgment, poor problem-solving abilities, and a tendency to get lost.

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