Here’s to living well

April 02, 2012 04:16 pm

It didn’t help any that I recently read “The Handy Geography Answer Book” that listed the life expectancies in all of the world’s countries.

“If we moved to Canada, I’d live three more years than if we stayed here,” I yelled to Austin in the other room. 

“It doesn’t work that way,” he yelled back. 

“I could gain 11 years by moving to Monaco,” I yelled. 

He didn’t reply, but the dogs both looked interested, so I lowered my voice and explained to them that if I lived in Mongolia I would have been dead 10 years ago. 

Pancho, who is 4, tilted his head slightly as if he were trying to understand this longevity thing but Sally, who is 18, licked herself inappropriately and collapsed on the floor. 

She’s a Lhasa apso. They originally came from Tibet. I tried to look up life expectancy in Tibet but the statistics were not there.

I forgot Tibet was gobbled up by China, largely, I suspect, because the monks there relied on the Lhasa apso as watch dogs for protection. 

Sally was snoring so I concentrated my attention on Pancho, who really looks up to me. Actually, he’s a Chihuahua and about six inches tall so he looks up to everyone, but he REALLY looks up to me. 

“We don’t have much longevity in my family,” I told him. My parents and siblings died young, so IF I make it until my birthday this month, I will have set the family record at 64. Do you know how old that is in dog years, Pancho?” 

I tried desperately to do that math. Being older (I’m not ready to say “old” just yet, only “older”), it seemed to take using my fingers to realize that would be over nine in dog years. Nine seemed better than 64. 

Pancho was getting bored. My age had become less interesting than watching Sally snore.

“When I get older, losing my hair, many years from now,

Will you still be sending me a valentine, birthday greetings, bottle of wine?”

In the late 1960s, I lay on the floor listening to that Beatles song over and over.

(On the floor because I didn’t have or want much furniture then — too bourgeois. And what furniture really went with my posters of Janis Joplin and Allen Ginsberg anyway?)

“If I’d been out till quarter to three, would you lock the door?

Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m sixty-four?”

There were four Beatles back then. And Paul hadn’t started looking like Angela Lansbury yet.

Did it once occur to me that I’d actually BE 64 some day? 

I still look fine. Pancho and Sally think so anyway. It’s true that Sally, who is 126 in human years (I used a calculator), is all but blind, but young Pancho has all of his senses. 

He does not judge others by whether they have hair growing irrationally from their nostrils and ears.

He does not think one iota less of me if my eyebrows no longer have any maximum length to which they will grow unchecked. Does he have canny insight that bushy eyebrows and ear hair will be in style some day?

I will probably go on and on. Like Cher? No, more like a bad joke or a winter cold. 

Anyway, Mike, you do still get valentines and birthday greetings and an occasional bottle of wine that you can enjoy — if you swig a pill for acid reflux down with the wine. 

Here’s a toast, then, to you, as you turn 64. Yes, you might gain 10 years of life expectancy by moving to Liechtenstein or Japan, but it would take you more than 10 years to learn German or Japanese. 

This nostalgia has put both dogs completely to sleep, Mike, so put it back into moth balls and move on.


Mike Shearer can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it