99 Years Old and Looking Back

I have to swallow hard when I refer to the song, “100 Years” by Vladimir John Ondrasik III, known by his stage name, “Five for Fighting,” as an “oldie.”


I mean, after all, a song released in 2003 should not fall in that category; it’s a description meant for The Everly Brothers or The Beach Boys. Nonetheless, if the Earth Shoe fits…

Sorry, I got distracted… back to the issue at hand…

“100 Years” is an amazingly powerful song.

If you don’t have it cued up on your iTunes playlist right now, let me sum it up. Each of us gets 100 years to live, and during that period we go through various stages. The poignant lingering lyrics guide us through those times, beginning at 15 (“There’s still time for you…”) and progressing all the way to 99 (“Time for just another moment…”). So poignant are the words that there’s a webpage to discuss the interpretation. (I don’t make any commission on its purchase nor am I affiliated with Mr. Ondrasik, but it’s worth your time to check out the song.)

My interpretation is that each of us given the gift of one century, which passes in the “blink of an eye.”

So, imagine you live exactly, to the day, 100 years. (In my case, that would mean I exit on September 28, 2054.) Take it to your last day and then back it off to one day before you’re gone; see yourself at 99 years, 364 days old. By sunset tomorrow, you will be no more; you have gathered all the knowledge and wisdom possible in this lifetime. You are completed.

Now suppose that 99-year-old-You could send a message back to the Current-You, right here, right now, reading these words.

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The Miracle TV Diet

man-selling-miracle-diet-on-tv

I attempt to source all facts I reference.

First, it’s the ethical thing to do. Secondly, most of these fascinating freaky factoids are found via the World Wide Web and much data floating in cyberspace is, well quite frankly, ka-ka. So, in attempting to validate a statistic I heard, I discovered a few fascinating facts about these bodies in which we live.

Since I’m turning 60 soon, I found it fascinating that according to HowStuffWorks.com, by that age, 60 percent of men and 40 percent of women snore; with the average snort volume hovering around 60 decibels, about the same loudness as standard speech. Not to be outdone, some punch out more than 80 decibels while slumbering, about as loud as a pneumatic drill breaking concrete. Related fact: According to the Hearing Loss Association of America, one-third of all Americans has hearing loss by age 65, which now makes complete sense since we’re sleeping next to pneumatic drills eight hours a night.

According to a report from Brazil, human hair grows a little less than 2/100 of an inch per day.

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The Ceremony

wedding-invitation

From its dawn through the mid-twentieth century, 90 percent of all gloves sold in the United States were manufactured in Gloversville, New York; making it one of the most appropriately named cities on the continent.

Originally known as “Stump City” because of all the trees that had been cut down it was incorporated in 1890. Having spent three weeks there, I can tell you firsthand that the sidewalks have probably not been repaired since that date. In many places, taking a walk was akin to scaling miniature cement mountains, circumventing canyons, crevices, and summits that substituted for a walkway.

Yet, it surpassed Augusta, Maine’s sidewalks, which were non-existent.

Trying to navigate the roadway to the shopping center, a distance of about one half mile, was analogous to open field running in a war zone. One scouts oncoming traffic waiting for a break, upon a clear patch, dash hurriedly down the road to the next safe haven, pause again for traffic, and repeat the process. (If more communities had decent sidewalks, it sure would help solve our obesity problem. However, that’s another topic.)

In the previous 94 days, I traveled 18,594.6 miles (give or take), from Anchorage to Augusta, Rutland to Redding.

While on the road, I visited a 20-foot tall chocolate fountain in Alaska. I resisted the urge to climb in, but succumbed to sampling real honest-to-goodness Vermont-made maple syrup while in Burlington. If you have not this pleasure, imagine the taste of a warm sunrise lightly brushed with natural honey gliding over your tongue, evaporating into airy nothingness.

Although mostly work-related, my journeys were book-ended by highly personal, deeply emotional events.

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What Did You Say?

exhausted-crawling-tired-man

Out of town, delayed, exhausted, and weary from what the airlines had foisted upon me in the name of their twisted, loose definition of “customer service,” I sought energy in the airport coffee bar, hoping to remain awake long enough to arrive at my destination.

“What would you like?” asked the young woman behind the counter.

“Coffee please.”

“Sugar and cream?”

“No thanks. But where do you keep the Sweet ‘n’ Low?”

“On the counter behind you. Regular or decaf?”

I wanted to say, “Look at me. Don’t I look like someone who desperately needs caffeine?” Instead, I chose politeness, “Regular.”

“What size?”

“Small,” I answered, maintaining a delicate balance between staying alert long enough to arrive at my destination but not so amped that sleep avoids me.

Pointing to the plastic menu behind and above her, she explained, “We don’t have ‘smalls;’ only medium, large, or extra large.” For reference, she directed me to three sample Styrofoam cups emblazoned with felt marker: “M,” “L,” and “XL”.

Understand please, I am a writer and a speaker.

Words are my tools; their correct usage is vital. In the same fashion a carpenter handles a saw or an artist strokes with brush, each word has a specific function. Labeling a “small” a “medium” does not make it so anymore than naming a “rabbit” a “chicken” will cause it to lay eggs. Now then, I became launched upon a mission to correct this contrived corruption of communication.

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Turning Sixty

Creepy image of scott q marcusThis September 28, I will turn 60 years old.

Can I be frank about that? (Of course I can, it’s my column.) Sixty is freaking me out. Don’t get worried; I’m talking simmer, not boil; but the heat is on and I feel it.

Part of the reason that my reaction has taken me by surprise is that I faced 40 pretty well. I felt respected. I had just shed 70 pounds and had recently met my now-wife. Things were flowing along quite swimmingly way back then, thank you very much. When 50 came knocking, it set me back on my heels for, oh, about five minutes, but I rebounded well and quickly moved on.

Sixty however? Whoa-doggie! That’s a notion I’m having trouble wrapping my mind around. (Thank God I don’t have to wrap my body around it ‘coz it just ain’t that flexible anymore.)

I mean, six decades on planet Earth just seems, so, well – how do I phrase this diplomatically? Okay, forget subtlety, I’ll just lay it out there: Sixty seems “old.”

I apologize and no disrespect is intended if 60 is in your rear view mirror, and you’re now scornfully shaking your head (most likely hearing those cracking sounds in your neck) muttering, “Really Scott, sixty? Get over it!”

You’re right; sixty happens.

However, in my defense, it’s the oldest I’ve ever been and I am attempting to come to grips with it in a mature fashion; but it doesn’t help that Miriam-Webster’s medical dictionary defines “middle aged” as “the period of life from about 40 to about 60 years of age.” Yikes! I mean, what about all that “60 is the new 40” stuff? Moreover, by the very nature of the fact that I consider 40 to be “young;” doesn’t that validate my whole I-feel-old argument in the first place?

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