Written by Bev Conover

Wednesday, 15 September 2004

Since the beginning of time man has been studying ways to live longer. The cave people did this by simply observing that those who got in the path of a Giant Sloth tended not to live as long as those who didn't. Thus they extended their overall population life span by practicing sloth-avoidance.

There was Ponce de Leon and his frustrated search for the fountain of youth. He missed the fountain, found Florida, but didn't live long enough to retire there.

Throughout the centuries there have been potions, incantations, myths, old wives tales and superstitions about how one might extend their time on earth. Failing this, wrinkle creams, face lifts and hair pieces abound - to fool others and perhaps ourselves into thinking we are somehow beating the clock.

It is true that medical science, particularly in the past 50 years, has done much to increase our longevity. Retirement homes are a relatively new phenomenon because in the not too distant past people didn't live long enough to retire. They simply died mid-stream.

Now that we have a life expectancy in the 70's, are we satisfied? No, we want more. We are not going to stroll gracefully into the next century, we are going to jog there, munching nuts, granola and fi-bars along the way.

But what is the true secret to a longer life? Believe it or not, I happened across this discovery while driving down the freeway. Before me was a car with a bumper sticker which read "LIVE LONGER - PLAY HANDBALL". Instantly images of 126-year-olds, battling it out on the handball court, popped into my mind. Of course, why hadn't I thought of this before? It all seemed so clear to me now. I could go back to smoking and drinking, as long as I played handball. And best of all, I could give up that awful bird feed they pass off as health food. The more I thought about it, the more excited I got. I turned off the freeway and headed for the nearest sporting goods store. Along the way, I stopped by 7-Eleven and picked up a pack of cigarettes and a Snickers. I was euphoric. Now I could start enjoying life again.

As I envisioned the possibilities I realized my fortune could be made by selling handballs. I would take the profits from the handballs and invest in retirement homes with handball courts. Naturally there would be designer handball gear. For charity I would sponsor wheelchair handball tournaments.

I couldn't wait to get out on the courts. As I sped through traffic I looked up to see flashing red lights behind me. That was o.k. Nothing could ruin my day now. As I was waiting for the cop to write out the ticket, I saw an old truck at the side of the road, covered with bumper stickers. There was a man with a mobile bumper sticker service. I thought about letting him in on my secret when I read the sign on his truck. It said "We print anything on bumper stickers".

I signed for the ticket, thanked the officer and turned the car around, hoping I wouldn't be too late for my appointment.

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

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Topics: giant, sloth, Youth

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