Sam Venable  

Department of Irony

The next time some kid calls you a “pea brain,” don’t be offended.

Instead, smile from ear to ear and say, “Why, thank you! That’s the nicest thing anybody’s said to me in years. Matter of fact, the last time someone was this kind to me was back about the time…”

That’s all you’ll have to say. For two reasons. 

In the first place, the person you were speaking to will already have walked away, rolling his or her eyes. In the second place, that’s all you can think to say because you will have forgotten what you were talking about. This is especially true if you’re of the aging male persuasion. 

We men can’t help it. Our brains are shrinking. Seriously. 

We’re just skipping merrily along on the road of life with a head full of gray matter when—zap!—there’s nothing rolling around inside the ol’ noggin but a BB. 

Don’t take my word for it. Hey, at my perilous age, you never know when downsizing might occur. Maybe it has already. Where was I? Oh, yes, brain shrinkage. 

According to a recent study published in the Archives of Neurology, men’s brains shrink faster than women’s brains through the normal aging process. Up to thirty times faster in some instances. And none of the experts who worked on the study had a clue why it happens this way. Possibly because they are old men themselves. 

Whatever the cause happens to be, I hope scientists never discover it. And I dearly pray they never find a way to reverse the process.

Why? Because this is the most exciting news that ever came down the pike for married men, that’s why. We now have a perfect response when the topic of discussion around home turns to chores that went undone, errands that went unrun, and birthdays and anniversaries that slipped by unnoticed. 

After more than forty years of marriage, I have seriously depleted my supply of excuses for missing important dates, times, places, and appointments. But now that this glorious scientific news has been revealed, I’m going to keep a copy of the report in my pocket. And then, whenever my wife asks why I haven’t done this or that, I’ll just reach into that pocket, whip out the article and say, “See? Not my fault. Instead, it’s my normal brain shrinkage.” 

Assuming I can remember where my pocket is.

Sam Venable is an author, standup comedian, humor columnist for the Knoxville News Sentinel, and a member of the Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame. His latest book is “WARNING! This Product Contains Nuttiness!” He may be reached at .