Some secrets are best left secret

Meet Besse Cooper. Besse once worked as a schoolteacher in Georgia. Doesn’t she look like a nice old lady?

I don’t mean old. I mean OLD. Besse is sitting in front of her birthday cake. Those candles add up to 116 years. And that, spelled out, is One Hundred and Sixteen years.

Besse is one of only eight people in the world, one of only four Americans, to reach the overly-ripe old age of 116. At this time she is officially the oldest person in the world.

They’ve named a bridge after her. That humbled her, sort of. “I’m glad I gave them a reason to name it,” she quipped.

And, just as what happens to every oldest person on Earth who ends up within earshot of a reporter, she too was asked the same old, age-old question: What’s the secret of your longevity?

“I mind my own business – and I don’t eat junk food.”

I could be wrong, but I think the old bird cut the reporter down to size and answered the question – in the same sentence.

Now, Besse here, made me smile as well as made me think. I’m 54 years old. I would have to live another 62 years to reach 116 years old. And that, spelled out, is Sixty-two years.

Sheesh. It’s going to take a long time to get to that point in my life. Even longer than it’s taken me to get to this point in my life. But gee, just think of all the things I can look forward to.

  • I’ll have to fill out a federal income tax form 62 more times. And I’ll have to come up with 62 more creative ways to claim my pets as dependents.
  • I’ll get to live through 2016, 2020, 2024, 2028, 2032, 2036, 2040, 2044, 2048, 2052, 2056, 2060, 2064, 2068 and 2072. And that means I’ll also have to live through watching 124 more Republican and Democratic National Conventions on television. And maybe only once, stay awake during one of them.
  • I’ve got 62 more years to say to myself that this is the year I’m going to open that 401K account and start saving for my retirement. After all, I’m not going to want to work forever, right?
  • I’ll be able to shovel snow during 62 more winters, mow grass during 62 more summers, rake leaves during 62 more autumns and slip in mud during 62 more springs.
  • I’ll have 62 more years to work on solving one of the world’s greatest riddles: When two socks go into a clothes dryer, why does only one come out?
  • I’ll have plenty of time to come up with a cleverly snide answer to the question: What’s your secret to longevity?

Wow. So much to live through, and so much time to do it in. I know what I’m going to do first-thing tomorrow.

Go right out and buy myself 116 Big Macs.

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Allowances?! There are no allowances in childhood!

Today I stumbled upon a small news item that hit me in the head like Moe. According to a recent survey conducted by the American Institute of CPAs, the average allowance for the average American kid is $15 a week.

They score for chores? Taking out the trash, walking the dog, mowing the lawn … $15 a week. Sheesh. I was an average American kid. I had chores. I never got an allowance.

What’s worse, according to the survey, only 1 percent of the parents said their children save any of that parental payout. According to the rest, their kids immediately blow their weekly wad on toys and entertainment.

That seals it. Today’s tadpoles are … soft. And a quick flip through my stash of childhood photos proves it. When I was a kid, when you needed something, you worked for it.

Let’s say you needed a new t-shirt. Ask your parents to take you to the mall and give you the money to buy it? Yeah, right. Not quite.

First, we had to plant the cotton.

That’s me on the right. Oh, and that plow? I had to whittle that out of a tree trunk. With a butter knife.

Then, we had to pick it.

You may notice that we have no shoes on here. We ate them for lunch.

Oh, but we weren’t done yet. You can’t wear a bunch of cotton balls. We had to turn that cottton into thread. And then into cloth.

Yup, that’s me. I think I was making new underwear here.

OK,  so you’ve made your cloth, now what?

The adults on the left used sewing machines to make their clothes. And as for me there? I had to sharpen my fingernail to use it as a needle.

I even had to clean up the place at the end of the day.

That guy behind me is there to make sure I don’t run off with the broom and pawn it.

See what I mean? Kids today … soft, soft, soft.

And another thing. I noticed a school bus drive by the house today and realized that the new school year’s about to start.

School buses. To take the kids to school every day. And bring them home again.

Hell, when I was a kid and had to go to school …

Around the living room in 80 days

As of today, exactly 80 days have passed since June 7.

I was in a hospital for six of them. Which means, thanks to my lightning-quick mental calculation skills, I have been in this house for … 74 days.

I’ve been living within these walls for every hour, every minute, every single second of every one of those days. Well, with the exception of about 11 times, for short trips. By my best guesstimation, those add up to about 13 hours.

So, that means, subtracting that time … I’ve been living within these walls, nearly non-stop, for 1,763 hours. That’s 105,780 minutes. Which also is 6,346,800 seconds. Or maybe 62.7 bizzillion nano-seconds.

Hmmmm … very interesting. Explains a lot.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“What was that? What were you saying, I couldn’t hear you.”

My wife is down the hall, sitting in the computer room and yelling out to me. I am in the where-I-am-living room.

“Sorry, I wasn’t talking to you. I was talking to Rocky.”

“What’d you say?”

“I said I was talking to Rocky!”

“You’re talking to Rocky.”

“Well, yes. In a manner of speaking.”

“You’re talking to Rocky, in a manner of speaking.”

“Yeah. I’m talking to Rocky, and he’s listening. It’s a manner of speaking. Sort of.”

“Don’t make me get up and count your pills again.”

“Shhh, Rock. Hold that thought. I’ll get back to you when the coast is clear.”

I hear you … I don’t know what you’re saying, but I hear you.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Hi hon, it’s me. Whatcha doing?”

“Hello dear. I know it’s you. We have caller ID at work.”

“Oh, what cutting-edge technology that is. Anyway, I wanted to ask you if I can use the credit card.”

“Why do you need to use the credit card? You’re at home. What for?”

“I’ve been watching this really educational program on TV and if I call and order within the next 20 minutes, they’ll double my order, the same price as one, just pay additional shipping and handling.”

“You’re watching infomercials.”

“Right, we’re talking lots of info here. And if I call in the next 17 minutes, they’ll double my order and I’ll get two 16-ounce Real-Rubber-in-a-Cans instead of one. I want to spray it on the bottoms of my feet and see if I can bounce my legs up onto the couch instead of hooking them with my cane and pulling them up. I think we’re talking a potential medical miracle here. So, whatdaya say.”

“Sigh – I’ve got to get a padlock for that medicine cabinet. I’m hanging up now.”

I dunno – it sure sounded like a good idea to me.

I’m not dead … I’m feeling better!

“It’s going to take at least three months.”

“You never told me that.”

“Yes, I did. You’ve had two total knee replacements done within the span of six weeks time. That’s two major surgeries, one nearly right after another. That means a lot of muscle, bone and nerve pain and healing. And all that takes time, at least three months, and that’s on the optimistic side.”

“You never told me that.”

“Yes, I did. The pain and discomfort will be with you for quite a while. Your rehab and return to normal is going to take a long time. You know it’s getting better, but it often can be a slow process.”

“You never told me that.”

“Yes, I did. You knew it would take time, which is why you need to be more patient. And also that there’s no reason for you to be concerned about asking for refills of your pain meds.”

“Thank God you told me that. Tell me again.”

I mean, really, in the grand scope of things, what I had done can’t even be called a flesh wound.

Well, hello there.

So nice to be feeling alive, nearly human and almost funny enough to be writing again. Today, logging back on here for the first time in forever, I discovered a profoundly gratifying thing – many of you have continued to visit and have been reading old bits of my blog often and regularly, despite my far-too-long MIA status.

To everyone, thank you. Seeing something like this tells me two things. One, that I better get writing right away before the crap in the archives gets so old it’s beyond mold, and no one ever comes back.

And two, some of you must have even better drugs than I do.

Thank God for that.