Tuesday, May 06, 2014

I stink in the classes because ... I am ageing!

I checked my blood pressure the other day--I can't resist the call of that machine whenever I go to the store that liberals love to hate. (No, I am not that kind of a liberal; I am, if I have to choose a label, a Libertarian Democrat.)

I slid my arm into the slot.  The arm band puffed up. And slowly released. Then the numbers appeared on the display--numbers that would put primary care physicians out of business if we all had such good readings!

Even as I felt reassured, I worried yet again that I will be condemned to a long life, unless I pick up some bad habits real fast.

Even more worrisome is that my habits apparently line up really well with some of the common characteristics of many centenarians:
"They engage in physical and mental activity on a daily basis, often cleaning, walking, gardening, cooking, reading, writing and memorizing passages of poetry, stories and life events. Learning never ends for them. They always hang around with people much younger than them. Even with a child, they find something to talk about.”
Many of the centenarians he has met practice careful eating habits; most are vegetarians who consume fresh vegetables and fruits, spices and herbs in small but regular quantities. Physical and mental activities and practices such as bathing in cold water and watching the sunrise in the early morning are common.
Aha, there is one where I am different: I do not bathe in cold water!  Ok, I might live only until 99 then; big deal ;)

Meanwhile, another essay that I read alerts me about the old man body odor:
Researchers at the Monell Chemical Senses Research Center in Philadelphia examined sweat-stained pads from the armpits of a cross-section of ages and, it appears, were able to tell by smelling them which had belonged to the old. It confirms what we all know but hesitate to say: old people smell. Apparently it isn’t an unpleasant smell – like ‘cucumbers and aged beer’ or comparable to ‘old book smell’ – but it’s there.
Hmmm ... so, when students tell me that I stink, they are not referring to my teaching?

Anyway, the author--a senior citizen, a woman--writes about ageing:
We all risk loneliness in old age if we live long enough – it is a terrible thing to be the last of your friends to die – but there is a special dungeon of isolation for women alone, mad old bats, pathetic creatures, talking to themselves and their cats, waiting out their lives. Being alone is as much of a stigma to be feared as losing sexuality. Old, lonely, unwanted, invisible. We learn about these sorry creatures in the books we read as small children, we see them repeatedly on the television news, dying of solitude and neglect, even in the crowded day room of a care home..
To live a long life is a blessing?  A curse?  A mixed bag?  Come on, any advice?
The advice seems to me to be to do what will prevent you from despairing, because being old and having been young, we are very well aware of the world’s capacity to remain utterly unchanged by our efforts. And that awareness alone is enough to make the end of life grim and disappointing unless you have the capacity to grin and bear it.
Grin and bear it,  or grim and disappointing?  That's all you got?

Tomorrow I better start drinking and smoking and bungee-jumping and ... nah--ain't gonna happen!


Ramesh said...

Name of Patient : Sriram Khé
Age : Indeterminate
Blood Pressure : Normal
Bad habits - Doesn't have one, other than blah blahing

Symptoms : Thoughts of old age, dementia and death

Diagnosis : Overexertion of the brain


1. Disconnect Book TV, New Yorker, etc etc
2. Go to the Train Blazers games on Saturday & Monday
3. Company of redhead

Review in 10 days time.

Sriram Khé said...

Muahahahahahaha ;)
The best joke ever as a blog comment here.
Damn, by laughing like this, my life span has increased :(