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Monday, 15 March 2010

image for Grandpa Ganja's BOOMERS! A Survival Guide for the Future Ch. 1-4

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Chapter

Introduction

1. Who Are We?

2. How To Get To Be Old To

3. Exercise

4. Diet

5. Freedom

6. Seniors and Sex

7. Should You Marry Again? Again?

8. Voting

9. Old-timers and Crime

10. Children and Grandchildren

11. Second Careers

12. Money and Investments

13. Dressing Right

14. Plastic Surgery

15. Travel

16. Condos/Clubs

17. Driving (Cheating)

18. Sleeping

19. Divorce

20. Religion

21. Canes, Walkers, etc.

22. Shoplifting Seniors

23. Anti-Aging Tactics

24. Drugs/Booze and Sobriety

25. Wills

26. Old Folks' Homes

27. The Problem of Dead Friends

28. Suicide

29. Last Words

30. Funerals

31. The Summing Up

INTRODUCTION

At seventy-eight, I've been a senior citizen for sixteen years. It's official. When I turned sixty-two the government certified me as a bona-fide senior citizen entitled to all the rights and privileges appertaining thereto. I collect Social Security, my health insurer is some outfit called Medicare, and I get senior citizen discounts at the movies. If there are any other official perks, I don't know what they are.

What's that? You say you were born between '46 and '64? So that makes you a Boomer, doesn't it? It also means you're getting older. Everybody who doesn't die is getting older with every breath he draws. In fact, instead of complaining about it you should rejoice since the only alternative to aging is dying and none of us is in any hurry to do that, is he?

Remember, only the lucky ones get old. Check the obituaries and note the fate of those who've found a way to beat old age. You'll see a lot of people in their forties and fifties who keeled over on golf courses or drove their cars into trees or succumbed to some exotic disease rather than face the perils of age. These people will never have to deal with the problems of growing old, but at what a price?

Consider yourself lucky. It's an honor to be old, a privilege not given to all. Be glad about it. Stand up tall-or as tall as you can, anyway-and look the young whippersnappers in the eye and tell them you're glad to be ninety-years old and to get the hell out of the way before you run them over with your walker, by God!

Old age is a highly desirable state and it always has been. People in all societies have always revered old age and longed to hang onto life at any and all costs because life offers so many more options than death does.

Think about it. Living people can take walks and watch TV and smoke cigars and eat, drink, and be more or less merry while dead ones are pretty much limited to lying about and waiting for vague Second Comings that may or may not come to pass. On the whole, it appears that being alive is preferable to being dead and most of us seem to know this fact instinctively judging by the tenacity with which we cling to life.

It's not enough just to live, though; it matters how you live. The secret is to make it to a hundred or so and have some fun in the process, to do it with style and grace and as much class as you can muster. It's important that the years count, or what's the point of it all?

I wrote this excellent book as a kind of how-to manual to provide a little much needed guidance for the fifty- or sixty-million people in this country who are either already old-timers or well on their way to such a state. These can be the best years of your life if you only know how to make the most of them, and this book will help you do exactly that.

So we'll analyze this aging business from stem to stern, as they say, and see if we can divine a course of action that'll help us get through the experience. We'll examine its various aspects in no particular order and report our findings as we uncover them. Above all, we'll strive for candor and truth and call them as we see them. After all, it's the least we can do.

Remember, age is good, the older the better. Fight the Grim Reaper to the very

end; refuse to give up. Trick him if you can, bob and weave, offer a moving target. The object of the game is to stay alive as long as possible by any means fair or foul; the game's over when you show up on Grim's computer printouts at last and he comes round to collect your defunct carcass.

CHAPTER ONE

Who Are We?

There was a time when people only lived to be twenty or so. Lions ate them or the crops failed and they starved to death or the neighbor in the next cave came over and bashed their brains out or whatever, but something got them before long and they only managed to average a twenty-year life span. Everyone wanted to live a long time, of course, but not many were able to pull it off.

This was still true in ancient Greece and Rome where the average life expectancy was thirty or thereabouts. While it's true that fewer people were being eaten, starved or bashed by this time, they still died off from ruptured appendixes, various infections, and the odd plague. They knew almost no science back then and relied entirely on such notoriously ineffective cures as magic potions and the intercession of priests praying to non-existent gods.

It was tough on people then. Consider the following scenario. A guy goes to his doctor with a pain in his side. The doctor is cutting a farmer's hair but he stops long enough to give the guy the once over.

"I've got bad news, Bob," the doctor says. "It's your appendix. I'd say she's ruptured on you."

"Ruptured? Is that bad?"

"Yep. Looks like you're a goner, Bob."

"Well, can't you do anything?" Bob says.

Doc shrugs. "What can I do? Nobody's invented surgery yet. We don't even know about anesthesia or the circulation of the blood or the details of the germ theory. I'd tell you to go home and take two aspirins but..."

And there you have it. Bob goes home and dies from an ailment that any registered pharmacist could cure in a trice today. That's what comes of being born anytime prior to the arrival of the 21st century and the advent of modern science. How can anyone expect to live a long and fruitful life sans x-rays and penicillin and vitamins and an understanding of the dangers of cholesterol in high-fat diets?

Modern science has done a spectacular job in coming up with newfangled devices and schemes to keep us living longer and better lives. They've got steel ball-bearing knee joints, transplanted livers and hearts and kidneys, open-heart surgery, laser treatments, drugs for impotent guys, glass eyes and plastic limbs and wonder drugs and on and on in a veritable cornucopia of modern medical miracles.

Such knowledge lets us enjoy much longer life spans than ever before in our history. The Japanese average eighty years, the Germans are close behind, and almost everybody else is in that same neighborhood. Some South American Indians live to be a hundred or more and can run up and down mountains like so many goats well into their second century. And some Russians in the Caucasus Mountains are robust and vigorous at equally lofty ages.

Of course, these people manage to stay alive so long only because they live in unheated mountain cabins and walk miles to town every day and live on yogurt and turnips and earn their living as peasant farmers and lumberjacks but, what the hell, you can't have everything. After all, would you rather be dead?

One question that often comes up is what is old age, anyway? How do you know when you've reached it? Is it when you qualify for senior citizen discounts? Is it a certain arbitrary age like sixty or eighty? Is it a condition like the inability to get it up? Or is it merely a state of mind, something indefinable and capricious and personal?

The truth is it's all of the above. The first time the ticket girl at your local movie theatre cheerily suggests the senior citizen's discount you'll feel ancient even if you're only forty-five. In fact, you'll feel even worse to know you look sixty when you're still in your forties.

When you qualify for Social Security you'll be reminded officially by the government that you're now classified as an old-timer and entitled to public assistance whether you need it or not. You may go around telling everyone you feel forty or so and regularly play tournament tennis and have a keen interest in the opposite sex, but you'll still be an old person in the eyes of the government.

If there is an arbitrary age when you may be said to be old, that age is sixty-two. After all, who can argue with the government? If Congress says you're old, well, then, it must be so. With the average American living to be about seventy-five, you'll only be a dozen years from that ultimate rendezvous with Charon and his infamous boat. While sixty-two may not be really old in many cases it's close enough to serve as a guideline for our purposes here.

Of course, age is relative in many ways. We all know people who seem old at forty and others who defy age at eighty. It's at least partly a mind-set, a mental attitude, one we can control to a very large degree if we're determined enough. You can just refuse to grow old, refuse to be a party to any of it and insist you're still young and fit in spite of all evidence to the contrary.

I myself am an example of this defiance. A year after I'd retired from teaching school in Detroit I went to the annual luncheon of the Retired Teachers Society and was appalled at what I saw assembled there. The place abounded in derelicts. The youngest appeared to be about eighty-six or so and none of them was able to get up or sit down without help. I took one look at this bunch and resolved I'd never have anything to do with such people again. And I never have, either.

Other examples of this are to be seen everywhere. The octogenarian who climbs Mt. Everest on his eightieth birthday; the centenarian who remembers voting for Teddy Roosevelt and is launching her campaign for Congress; an old colonel who starts a chicken empire with his first Social Security check; all are people who refused to accept the label of old and continued to go right on living with vim and vigor when they could not reasonably be expected to do so.

The point is age really is relative. It's only a number, a general indicator; a kind of numerical road sign alerting us that we're at a given point on our collective ways to dusty death. Taken by itself it means nothing; it has exactly as much meaning as we choose to give it.

What all this means is that life ends when we die and not a minute sooner. Intelligent people know this and insist on living life to the fullest no matter what their age.

I suggest you do the same.

Survival Rules

1. For a long life move to the Caucasus Mountains.

2. Confine your diet to hearty peasant food.

3. Old age officially begins at sixty-two. Rejoice that you're around to have it happen to you.

4. Avoid really old people lest you be mistaken for one of them.

5. Old age is ultimately nothing more than a number; have the courage to sneer at it.

CHAPTER TWO

How to Get to Be Old

As we've already seen, it's not all that easy to get old in the first place. Maybe nobody wants to die en route to old age but a lot of them do, anyway. While it's true that living to be eighty or ninety has much to do with luck, still there are certain strategies that have worked for millions of others and can work for you, too.

Take the luck part first. What's your DNA look like? Do you come from a long line of octogenarians or did all your ancestors drop dead in their early forties? We're talking pure luck here; nobody controls his own DNA. If your luck is bad you're just out of luck, I guess.

Were you born in a slum or teething on the fabled silver spoon? If you were unlucky enough to draw the slum, you've had fewer of life's luxuries such as sound medical care and a decent diet and your overall health may have suffered as a result.

On the other hand, if your folks were rich you've had all these things and your health should be in somewhat better shape generally. Fewer rich kids end up with TB or dietary deficiencies and consequently more of them reach maturity in fairly good health. In other words, it's always better to be rich than poor because the rich people not only have more money but they also enjoy better health and out-live the rest of us.

I'm not sure, but somehow that doesn't seem quite democratic, does it?

Then there's the element of luck in avoiding fatal accidents along the way. You can be the healthiest person in three counties and get run over by a bus at thirty. What good is health to a dead guy? We're talking luck again. Some people are just plain luckier than others, that's all. One guy pilots jetliners all over creation for thirty years and never gets a scratch and the next guy takes his very first plane ride at forty and the thing slams into a mountain. People would say the crashee had bad luck-and he surely did.

Any fool can see, then, that luck plays a key role in determining who gets to eighty and who doesn't. For some of us it just isn't in the cards no matter what we do on our end. All the dieting and exercising and vitamins and physical exams and medicine in the world aren't worth a damn if we're not a bit lucky, too.

What about the strategies? What can we do to stave off the Grim Reaper as long as possible and make it into our dotage along with the rest of the winners?

For one thing, choose a safe and sane career. Don't choose life as an infantryman in a Marine rifle platoon. Avoid stuntman work. Stay away from such jobs as deep-sea diver, sponge fisherman, and abalone farmer. In fact, stay out of the oceans altogether, as there are all sorts of things in them that will eat you at the very first opportunity.

Don't be an undercover narcotics cop or a steeplejack or an inner-city public schoolteacher or a firefighter or an intravenous drug user or anything else that has a known high mortality rate. It's tough enough living to be eighty without handicapping yourself with some death-defying career.

The jobs you do want would include accountant, retail sales, government bureaucrat, hairdresser, librarian, fashion model, symphony conductor, research scientist, housewife, and similar jobs renowned for their low health risks. Symphony conductors all live to be ninety or so and most librarians routinely live to be a hundred or more. This can be verified by examining the lives of people like Arturo Toscanini and dropping by the nearest library and noting the old ladies one sees there.

As for particular strategies, you can learn tried and true survival methods by talking to old-timers who've managed to stay alive for eight or nine decades and know a trick or two about how it's done. For example, I ventured out to the Sunny Dale Old Folks' Home and did some research among the inhabitants there to get some insight into the problem.

One old codger glared at me with his one good eye while its glass mate gazed vacantly at the ceiling and said, "Secrets? You bet I got some secrets. It's hard work, that's what it is. A man should put in at least twelve hours a day six or seven days a week and never take a vacation. Makes a guy too tired to think about death, he won't have any time for it. If people don't work hard, they die off early. Keepin' busy, that's what it takes."

Of course, this guy's testimony was not all that reliable since the old fool's mind was half gone and he had no idea what he was talking about. I later learned he was a retired preacher and had only worked on Sundays for the last fifty years. Still, there are those who claim hard work is good for you and will prolong your life.

On the other hand, I interviewed an old lady who was nearing a hundred and she took the opposite tack.

"Constructive leisure, young man, that's the secret," she said. "Don't do any work at all if you can help it. Marry a rich man like I did. Surround yourself with laborsaving devices and do a lot of shopping. Shopping is especially good as it gives a person something to live for. And take separate vacations. You won't get any rest if you take your old fool of a husband along with you."

With that she cackled loudly and zipped off in her electric wheelchair without a backward glance.

Others there recounted similar stories and they were as divergent as these. Where one old geezer claimed careful diet attributed to his longevity another swore he lived entirely on nicotine, caffeine, and fat grams. Some pleaded for exercise and others claimed they never broke a sweat in ninety years. One visited her doctor regularly and underwent more surgeries than a lab rat while her equally old roommate avoided doctors and medicines and depended on natural herbs and tonics made from dandelions and berries.

They tell us there are some things we can do to prolong our lives such as eating less red meat, avoiding excessive drinking, not smoking, and getting enough exercise. All these are well-known factors in assorted afflictions from heart attacks to cancer and fatal falls.

And then along comes some joker like Winston Churchill, a renowned trencherman who routinely ate red meat, drank copiously, smoked a dozen or more cigars every day, never exercised a single day in his life, and lived into his nineties. What kind of message does that send to the rest of us?

In fact, the more I probed this aspect of longevity the more I learned that there doesn't seem to be any one method for arriving at an advanced old age. People seem to get there by a variety of routes. One that would prolong your life might kill me outright while my preferences would deliver you to an early grave.

Again, the key components to attaining a long life seem to have more to do with the aforementioned DNA and old-fashioned luck than anything else. If you can avoid those encounters with careering Mack trucks and have inherited the right genes, you can reasonably expect to live well into your eighties or nineties and spend your declining years attending the funerals of your less fortunate friends.

I guess the best course of action for most of us is to do pretty much what we want to do without being foolish about things. Eat what you want, drink or smoke as you like. Run, jog, or take long naps as suits your particular disposition and generally forget about it. We all die of something sooner or later and excessive worrying about it is likely to make it sooner rather than later.

Survival Rules

1. To live a long life, be lucky and have good genes.

2. Be born rich in an industrialized nation with a good health care system.

3. Avoid fatal accidents.

4. Choose a safe career: accountant, librarian, or a symphony conductor.

5. Live abstemiously.

6. Or do exactly what you like and rely on your karma and the gods.

CHAPTER THREE

Exercise

Everybody's always telling us we ought to exercise more on the grounds that it's good for us and will prolong our lives indefinitely. Even as a teenager I doubted that there was much to this theory and I studiously avoided exercise at every opportunity, but I really knew they were full of crap when Jim Fixx died while jogging.

Here was this man who wrote books on the lifesaving benefits of arduous exercise and practiced what he preached by running a dozen miles or more every day. He was lithe and lean, the consummate runner, a model of the well-exercised form-and he dropped dead of a heart attack at fifty-two.

Is there a message here or what?

I read of a study done at Michigan State University once that found college varsity athletes lived not a minute longer than the average Joe based on actuarial charts. And the average life expectancy for pro football players is fifty-three. What? The jocks don't outlive the rest of us? Their highly developed cardiovascular systems and well-muscled bodies break down right on schedule with those of the nerds and pencil necks?

Incredible.

The plain truth of the matter is there's no real benefit in being hot and tired and out of breath for any reason. Once you're out of your teens, you should confine your activities to those that don't call for any unusual exertion. If you run around out in the hot sun chasing after assorted balls and whatnot, you can expect to dislodge an aneurysm or pop an aorta and it'll serve you right, too.

Listen, this exercise craze is not only a lot of hokum but there really is a good chance it could also be fatal. Fixx isn't the only guy that's heart burst on him due to excessive strain brought on by violent exercise. Read the papers. People are dropping all over the place. Paramedics make regular runs to so-called health studios and haul away heart patients and stroke victims who collapsed while on the rowing machine or suffered a seizure while bench pressing several hundred pounds of iron.

See for yourself. Go to any health club and hang around the place for an afternoon and you're bound to see at least one old codger fall down and turn blue from overexertion. It's so common a sight that most regular customers go right on with their workouts and take no notice of the drama unfolding before them.

"Hey, Cartwright's down again!" the assistant manager sings out. "Better call 911-and order us a pizza while you're at it."

They administer mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and pound on the guy's heart and he's whisked away by the paramedics and never seen on the premises again. The papers will run a two-paragraph story next to the underwear ads on the local news page and that's all anybody ever hears of it.

Don't you become a player in a similar scenario. Avoid exercise. Refuse to join the local joggers' association. Resign from the tennis and swim club forthwith. Sell your bowling ball and dump those golf clubs. Eliminate all forms of strenuous exercise from your daily routine and you'll be better off for it.

Now this isn't to say that all exercise is bad for you. On the contrary, certain sensible types of exercise come highly recommended, especially for old-timers like you and me.

Take sex-and you should, as often as you can get it. You profit from this activity in at least two ways. First, there are actual aerobic benefits to be gained. If you take it seriously and really put your whole heart and soul-and other appropriate parts-into the act, you'll gain enormous benefits in terms of your overall health. More importantly, an active sex life promotes health in more subtle ways, but we'll examine these in a later chapter.

It's okay to walk. Sauntering is even better. Resting and sleeping are even better yet. Lolling about is also good. Watching TV with your feet propped up on an ottoman, a cold beer in one hand and a hand-rolled cigar in the other is a universally recognized form of exercise that's rigorous and demanding enough to meet all your needs. Why do more when you can get by nicely on so much less?

If you have friends who are into such foolishness as jogging or playing tennis and you want to go along to be sociable, that's okay as long as you don't actually join in and run the risk of incurring the aforementioned aneurysm or popped aorta. The secret is to play the role without straining yourself.

Suppose you fall in with a bunch of joggers and they beg you to join them in their madness. Okay, you feign enthusiasm. Tell them you've always admired long-distance runners and have long wished you could become one yourself. Carry a picture of Jim Fixx in your wallet. Make vague references to anabolic steroids and hint that you're familiar with their use.

Go out and buy jogging clothes. Get some skin-tight, polyethylene pants with racing stripes and wear a headband. Buy some fancy sneakers, the kind that enable you to jump higher and farther than Michael Jordan. Watch track and field events on TV and refer to them in your conversations with fellow joggers.

In short, play the part to the hilt. They'll welcome you with open arms and you'll have a whole array of new friends and a greatly enhanced social life in no time at all.

Just don't do any jogging.

How do you get out of it? Easy. When the gang is getting together to jog up the face of Mt. St. Helens or whatever, you show up in all your jogging regalia-and using a cane. This scene will unfold.

"Hey, Mabel, what happened? What's with the cane?"

"I'm afraid I've pulled a ligament," you say, giving your calf a stout whack with the cane out of pure frustration at such wretched luck.

"Oh, no!" someone will say.

"How terrible!" another will declaim.

"Yep, she's torn, all right," you reply. "I decided to take a warm-up run yesterday and I was half way up Heartbreak Hill when the damn thing snapped on me." Snap your fingers. "She went just like that. I gave her a shot of steroids and soaked her all night but it's no use. I guess I'll have to sit this one out."

"Oh, what a shame," they'll exclaim.

"Hey, why don't you ride with Shirley and help with the picnic lunch?" someone will say, and a chorus of sympathetic friends will join in and urge you to come along as a non-participant and you're home free.

And there you have it. You're functioning in a jogger's club and gaining all the social benefits therein without actually jogging as much as a single yard. Of course, you can easily come up with similar dodges when your torn ligament "heals" and

sustain the fraud endlessly.

Claim you've broken your Achilles' tendon. Hint that you're a candidate for open-heart surgery and reinforce the deception by popping what you claim are nitroglycerine tablets but are really M&Ms. Say you're suffering from painful shin splints or your arthritis has kicked in again or all that shrapnel in your back from World War II is acting up.

In other words, be creative. You should be able to hang out with joggers indefinitely and never work up a sweat. You can harangue your friends with endless tales of jogging stories and hint that you're considering running in a marathon soon and gain the admiration and respect of people everywhere and all the time you couldn't run to the corner and back without the aid of a portable oxygen tank and a trained physical therapist.

You can do the same with all other kinds of exercise, too. Lots of people belong to tennis clubs and never swing a racquet. Skiers often buy elaborate outfits and expensive, custom-made skis and never leave the sanctity of the ski lodge with its roaring fireplace and hot toddies. Swimmers get great tans and never enter the water.

But surely you get the idea by now. Exercise is not beneficial for the average old-timer. On the contrary, it's contra-indicated for most of us once we've grown to adulthood and should be indulged in only under extreme circumstances.

Of course, it's all right to run madly about if you're trapped on the twenty-fifth floor of a major hotel fire or to swim two miles through a raging surf if your boat has capsized on you and the alternative is a watery grave, but otherwise avoid exercise if at all possible. Avoid placing undue stress on a heart already weakened by age,

cholesterol, and years of riotous living.

So take the easy way out. Even if you don't actually live as long as the exercise freaks, you'll have a helluva lot more fun in the time that is allotted you.

Survival Rules

1. Remember Jim Fixx.

2. Stop exercising when you leave your teens.

3. Avoid health clubs as undesirable types hang out in them.

4. Get lots of sex for the aerobic benefits.

5. Enjoy pseudo-exercise by watching the pros on TV while smoking a cigar and drinking a beer.

6. Wear neat sports outfits and $100 Nikes but evade actual exercise by faking injuries.

7. Remember, there's no advantage in being tired and sweaty.

CHAPTER FOUR

Diet

What about eating? Are there special Boomer diets that will help you get old and stay that way for two or three decades? Is it true you can eat your way to an early grave as the health nuts claim?

Yes and no. Lots of evidence today shows that diet plays a major role in the kinds of diseases we develop over the years. This is especially obvious when we compare other countries with our own. The Japanese eat less red meat than we do and it's been shown they suffer less from cholesterol and heart trouble as a result. The aforementioned Caucasus Russians subsist on nuts, goat cheese and fruit and they almost never die.

The average American's diet is probably not the best one for achieving advanced old age. We're heavy on fat grams and don't eat enough vegetables. A lot of us drink milk in spite of numerous studies indicating it wreaks havoc on adults and should be avoided altogether by everyone over twelve or so. Pork is loaded with fat that converts directly to artery-blocking sludge within fifteen minutes of consuming it and we eat about fifty million pigs each and every year as a nation.

You should also avoid exotic fare such as banana and peanut butter sandwiches, as the chemical reactions of certain combinations are unpredictable and may produce unexpected results. Remember Elvis?

Cheese is another fat-laden comestible and yet we eat the stuff by the ton on

our pizzas and cheeseburgers. Mexican food is loaded with fat of all kinds and we scarf it down with reckless abandon. Ice cream and chocolate cake and candy and apple pie and other rich desserts round out the average American's diet and contribute to early death and/or life-threatening obesity for millions of us.

Still, you've been luckier than the others. You've managed to grow old in spite of such diets and now you're an old-timer well into your fifties, sixties, seventies and the question now is, what's diet got to do with you at this stage in life?

Answer: Nothing. Who cares now? You're old and way up on Grim's printouts and subject to call at almost any moment and you're worried about what you eat?

The point is nobody lives forever. I don't care if you live entirely on grains and fruits and life-giving mineral water, you're still on your way out and there's not a damn thing you can do about it. And if that's true, there's only one sensible course open to you.

Forget it. Eat whatever you like. Get fat. Cut loose and live a little before it's too late. You're going to come a cropper in any case so you may as well go for it and let the devil take the hindmost.

This diet business is all well and good when you're young since good eating habits will help you get old, but there comes a point where diminishing returns become a factor. What have you got to gain by continuing to eat health-giving foods when you're eighty-years old, for God's sake? Is there any sense in that? You'll gain little and lose much by denying yourself whatever you want in the way of comestibles.

To see what old-timers actually did about this, I interviewed randomly selected people on city streets and asked them if they'd made a practice of watching what they ate earlier in life and whether they continued with such practices now that they were old.

I approached an old lady who was pushing one of those walkers down the sidewalk at a snail's pace and put the question to her.

"Oh, dear me," she said, "yes, I certainly do watch what I eat. I eat only fruit and whole grains, no meat at all. And lots of prunes, too. And fibre."

"But don't you find such a regimen a little boring?" I asked. "Don't you ever long for a hamburger or sundae or a slab of ribs?"

"Young man, you don't get to be ninety-two by eating ribs and ice cream," she snapped. "So what if your food tastes like cardboard? Staying alive is what counts and don't you forget it!"

She glowered at me and took off up the street in pursuit of several snails that would just raced by her and a minute later she tried a daring move on the snails and keeled over dead right in front of a Burger King.

Talk about irony.

A fat old guy stopped to gawk at the fallen dieter and I put the same question to him.

"What?" he said. "Diet? Does it look like I'm on a diet? I'm eighty-eight years old and you want me to watch my weight? What the hell for? Do I look like I'm headin' for a swingin' singles bar? You think I'm on my way to a health club? Diet? Are you crazy? I'm headin' for a fat 'burger, that's where I'm goin'."

And with that he scooted around the fallen woman and ducked into the restaurant to stock up on fat grams and caffeine.

Now this gentleman takes a more sensible approach to eating. He's already an old-timer and on the verge of imminent death with little to lose. He took care of himself all those years and lived on a lot of bland stuff and walked around hungry half the time in order to live a long life. Okay, so he succeeded. He's eighty-eight and still upright. So what's he saving himself for?

He knows Grim's just around the corner and heading his way at this very minute. The jig is almost up. He's denied himself and lived an ascetic life and now he should cut loose and make up for lost time. Order a second fat 'burger, replenish the fries, make it a large coffee, real coffee with extra caffeine and double sugar. Always have dessert. Pack it in. As I said, what are you saving it for?

What does it matter if your corpse looks like Henry the VIII? So what if people make snide remarks at the viewing?

"My, but he put on a lot of weight, didn't he?"

"He got fatter'n a pig is what he did."

"Yeah, he looks like Henry the VIII."

"They're gonna need extra pallbearers to get his fat ass outta here!"

Who gives a damn? Believe me, you won't.

The point is, there's a time for caution and a time for wild abandon and the wise person knows the difference. The old lady could have been scarfing 'burgers and chocolate shakes for the last several years and not been any the worse off for it in the end.

So the secret is to watch what you eat when you're younger and chow down when you get old and are running out of time.

Survival Rules

1. For the first sixty years eat less not more. Avoid red meat, milk, and rich desserts.

2. After sixty eat whatever you damn well please. Savor caffeine. Load up on refined sugar. Choose foods by fat gram-the more the better. Enjoy what's left, for God's sake!

The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

If you fancy trying your hand at comedy spoof news writing, click here to join!
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