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A question of zeroes – reaching 100 versus April’s birthday

Mentioning my wife’s age is verboten. Especially now that the square root of her age is more than the years our kid has lived on earth. So, even though today is her birthday, I can’t say her age. Be it here, there, in pixel or print – the surest way for me to wind up mummified in her precious Coyuchi sheets is to spell it out.

Suffice to say, her age ends in a zero. It’s always the ages that end in zero that cause the most anxiety. What’s odd is that the first two times this happens – 10 and 20 – is exciting. Graduating into double digits and later cresting adulthood is the whole goal of childhood, right? Thereafter the zeroes absorb youth and dreams with the voracity of a black hole.

Of course, this all changes when you acquire a second zero and turn 100. Then you’re some kind of hero. Perhaps more so if you drank and smoked the whole way there. When it comes to longevity, some find bucking conventional wisdom assuring, even forgiving. Others just like to drink and smoke. Be assured, centenarians who’ve avoided being killed by their vices haven’t reached a truce with them, they’re just dying of something else.

Also, they’re all single. That’s the part that no one talks about. One of the secrets of living a long life might be to go it alone. Drink, smoke, be single and live forever? Tempting isn’t it? Let us assume it’s lonely at the top of the longevity ladder lest we go mad with envy.

There must be dividends to growing old with someone, like, you know, always having someone with whom to marvel at the increasingly rapid passage of time. Ask any pair of octogenarians what it’s like to grow old together and they’ll just stare at you. Their enfeebled minds aren’t groping for an answer, but rather, their perception of time looks like “Koyaanisqatsi,” the time-lapse flick with day and night flicking off and on like a strobe light. You’re hardly a blip in their experience, a speck of dust on a single frame of film, which is whooshing by like so many clouds. How could they possibly stop that kind of ride?


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