In Memory of My Friend David
I first met David when he was 14. He passed away last November at the age of 69. Our friendship lasted over 50 years. We grew up together, we had our good times and bad times, and we grew old together in a special kind of way. He lived over 800 miles from me, yet for many weekends, using our cellphones with Bluetooths stuck in our ears, we took long walks together talking like only old friends do.
I wrote the following essay nearly seven-years-ago. When looking back at some of the many essays I’ve written, I came upon this one. I thought it would make a fitting tribute to the memory of my friend, David. I hope through this essay you know what kind of friends we were.
Rest in peace, my friend. I miss you. I hope wherever you are, this brings a smile to your face…
Food for Thought
Yesterday I took a walk. My friend David walked around his domicile in Georgia and me through the Ohio countryside. Although we’re old, we are technologically hip. We talked on our cell phones for a little while as we walked. I walked eight miles, David walked five. Or so he says.
If you’re younger than 50 this will be unbearably boring; it won’t have a bit meaning to you. So go away. If you’re a man over 50 you’ll get it. You might not like it, but you’ll get it.
Face it, if you’re over 50, you are spending your time on the Web looking at scantily-clad women, reading about colon, bladder, and prostate issues, trying to control your soaring cholesterol, clear your clogged arteries – and maybe even considering eating a more healthy diet and starting an exercise regimen. In that case, you might want to keep on reading. I might save you from the agony of celery sticks and riding around for miles on a bicycle with a seat designed for a twenty-year-old bottom. It occurred to me that you could be wasting your time. (Well, maybe not the scantily-clad women part.)
Now, now, ladies, don’t get upset. I’m only stating the facts. Don’t be so Victorian. This is the age of endless Viagra, Levitra, and Cialis TV commercials. You know the ones with the fawning middle-aged jezebels pawing their rotund objects of affection. Come on! Keep reading! You might actually enjoy this look into the bizarre minds of old guys fighting in vain to forestall the ravages of time. You might even take away a tiny morsel (no pun intended) of knowledge and insight into the hardening brains of pathetic old guys like me. If you are offended by scantily-clad women don’t worry. There are absolutely none of those here. This is just boring old geezer stuff. Geezers like me are harmless. We spend most of our time safely ensconced in recliners, snoring away our final years.
Now guys, if you’re here to learn about colon, prostate or other health problems which target guys over 50, there’s a really good chance you’re wasting your time. Should you eat, drink, and be merry or eat right, exercise and walk around sore and starving for the rest of your life? You want the truth? If you eat healthy, exercise and do all the good things rich doctors tell you to do – all you’re doing is prolonging the inevitable. It is pathetic, but it is true. You might think that remaining very healthy until the very day of your death is very desirable. Don’t get your hopes up. Your chances of that are very slim – no matter how many celery sticks you eat, sit-ups you do, or miles your jog. When you’re over 50, there are a plethora of evil things out to get you. I’m sorry to tell you that scantily-clad women are not among them.
A healthy diet and exercise not only just prolongs the inevitable, but might not be in your best interest either. Got your attention? Sometimes, I’m so proud of myself when I think of stuff like this – who wouldn’t be?
It all started when David told me that he attended a business luncheon last Friday. He ate two fried alligator tails but then realized he had to pay for his overindulgence by walking an extra mile or two the next day. We discussed his gluttony critically – even analytically. Yes, we are that type. You know the kind that grates on your nerves. Anyway, we have these kinds of profound discussions quite often. We’re perky, smart, older guys! Truth be told, we have nothing better to do.
He observed that the obese members of his work team ate with reckless abandon. In layman’s terms that means they were cramming down all manner of goodies as fast they could shove them in their greasy, little mouths. That got the wheels turning in our rusty, old heads. We began tossing around the idea that perhaps we (meaning all us older guys) would be better off not exercising; letting ourselves go and eating whatever we wanted – whenever we wanted and as much as we wanted. Then, like David’s morbidly obese co-workers, we could have that Devil-may-care attitude and run amok at lunch and dinner buffets – and keep Dominos delivery drivers busy. Or, maybe we should continue with our ludicrous daily exercise routines and miserably healthy diets, and prolong the inevitable for as long as we can.
As ironic as it may seem, there’s something to be said for dropping dead suddenly. A stroke or heart attack, brought on by years of over-eating and lack of exercise, might be an express ticket to eternity. If you’re fat and don’t care, good for you. You don’t have a clue when the big one is coming. And, you will have had the pleasure of indulging your gluttonous self and never worried one bit about walking any farther than from the couch to the fridge. Heck, if you’re lucky, you might even drop dead, heading to the refrigerator for another slice of cold pizza and another beer. What a way to go! No lying around while smiling hospice nurses patronize you. No wasting away for months writhing in pain from old age or some awful terminal disease. Nope. Dropping dead on your way to the fridge for more food and drink does have a certain appeal. If you’re a deep-thinker you have to agree – don’t you?
Those of us, like David and I, who monitor our diets carefully and exercise regularly, might well end up ridiculously old, shriveled-up, drooling, mush-eating, curmudgeons; just mindless old, wrinkled prunes, spending our final days in some run-down, dimly-lit, understaffed, bottom-of-the-barrel nursing home, sucking up the resources of our offspring because we’ve managed to outlive our own. And the reason we have been stuffed away in that awful place? Because we spent years on healthy diets and 10-mile walks. We suffer now and we’ll suffer later. Dropping dead on the way to the refrigerator doesn’t sound like too bad of an alternative.
We are still able to walk now, but it’s not a stretch of the imagination to picture ourselves hobbling around behind walkers waiting for death to take us, our well-exercised and starvation-thin bodies ravaged by age.
Is it better to fade slowly and perhaps, agonizingly into death after 80+ years of healthy diet and exercise? Or, is it better to speed up the inevitable and enjoy yourself all the way to the quick-exit ramp off the freeway of life? There’s something to be said about the pleasures of 40+ years of gluttony and napping your life away on the couch. It looks like it’s a toss-up to some, there are plenty of 50+ fat guys, snoozing in recliners, waking up to watch the 3rd quarter of a football game and have another bowl of chips, a couple more slices of pizza and a few more ice-cold beers. They’re all tempting fate: “What me worry?” Then there are some 50+ guys out jogging and coming home to a meal of cold tofu and carrot sticks trying to prolong the inevitable for a few more years. They look miserable and hungry.