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Die Young or Live

As I see it, as we age, we have two options:  Die young or start acquiring bad habits.

Despite all the helpful advice stuffed into the average  Miss Behaved person, nothing really sticks and nothing kills them and they go ahead and eat bacon while living forever. Which is a lot of bacon.

  That little old lady, now shaped like the letter C, use to swear, drink martinis during Prohibition and bought her cigarettes on the black market during the war.  No, you are not the first generation to behave badly, get over it.  But you are the second generation who will be burdened with a very long life.

With that in mind, here is a helpful Miss Behaved chronology for the later part of your years.  Follow this carefully and you can turn those last ten years into something a little less pathetic.   

  • At 74 – Start eating fatty foods.
  • At 75 – Ingest strange experimental – but organic – vitamin supplements.
  • At 76 – Hire an attractive personal trainer of the opposite sex because you cleverly read somewhere that exercise, even if you start late, still has benefits. And who is going to argue with that?  Your children?  We don’t think so. Overdo. Go into surgery for a rotator cuff operation because you’ll be put in post-op with all the young studs who hurt themselves during touch football.  Brag about your trainer.
  • At 77 – Make younger friends. One Miss Behaved gentleman realized that he needed to cultivate younger fishermen because he’ll need the help with the boat, the heavy gear, and someone to bring lunch.   
  • Invest in a very cool car that young people would love to drive.  Upgrade the car every two years so it’s always exciting.  As a condition of driving the car, make the kids take you with them. Enjoy the speed, the danger, and the donuts in the high school parking lot.  With any luck, your young friend will give you a heart attack.   
  • At 78 – Stand on unstable chairs while changing the ceiling fixture light bulbs.
  • At 79 – Insist on wearing your mink coat during a trip to San Francisco. Heckle the fur protesters milling around Neiman Marcus. There are no animal advocates in any town where the temperature drops to 20 below.  Animal advocates hang out in warm places like LA.
  • At 80 – Enroll in the local university to get that Ph.D. in Medieval history you’ve always wanted. Finally, no one will ask you what you’ll do with it. There won’t be time to do anything with it.   
  • At 81- Eschew balanced meals and eat only dessert. We know a lovely Miss Behaved woman who was diabetic. While she was monitored at the Home, she ate the right food and took very good care of herself mostly because there were precious few options.  But when she was able to escape for lunch at the Club, she ordered two margaritas and chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream on the side and a small salad wedged between. She lived far longer than her children would have liked.
  • At 82- Marry your personal trainer.
  • At 83 – Bake large amounts of festive but uneatable foods and give them as gifts.
  • At 84 – Take up smoking.
  • At 85 – Say what you think out loud. Start at church.
  • At 86 -Cultivate selective deafness. Tune the problematic hearing aids so that you can clearly hear the waitress at the Club rattle off the fresh pie choices for the evening, but you missed those latest instructions from the doctor who is only about 12 years old anyway so what the hell does he know about getting old?
  • At 87- Every Sunday afternoon hold stereo wars in the rest home. Turn up the volume; no one can hear you anyway.  Be grateful that the lyrics of the favorite songs of your youth can be pretty much reduced to Nay Nay Nay, or Yeah, Yeah, Yeah.  One of those, we can’t remember.
  • At 88 – Take up Art.  There is a myriad of possibilities for this project, and since you’re finished with your Ph.D. you can attend as many Community College classes as you can get to.  Learn to paint really awful, but very large paintings that are so large the canvasses barely fit through the front door.  Make sure the subject matter is religious and the colors don’t match anything in a modern home.  Will them all to the grandchildren.  Or take up scrapbooking and carefully glue all the family photos onto construction paper and decorate with glitter and small adhesive stars. Enjoy the look of astonishment when you show your daughter your handiwork.
  • At 89 – Pick an attractive illegal substance the effects of which you’ve always wanted to experience. Ingest daily.      
  • At 90 – Learn to play video and computer games – it doesn’t matter how old you are online.
  • At 91 – Pretend you really do intend to meet Sinful Sue at the Mall of America on the anniversary of when you met in the chat room and knew you were soul mates.  But remember to thank her for the downloads.
  • At 92 – Report back on the side effects to taking all those vitamin supplements. This is your chance to break the bad news that  Ginseng doesn’t do a damn thing for memory.
  • At 93 – Throw away important personal papers.
  • At 94 – Reject all liquids that are alcohol – free.   
  • At 95 – Call the nurse on duty every fifteen minutes because you’re sure you have to go to the bathroom.  What you really want to do is look in the mirror again, because how did you end up in this old body?
  • At 96 – Ask the question, were you Miss Behaved enough?   

Perhaps it would be better to ask this question in our forties.

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Catharine Bramkamp is a successful writing coach and author. She has published over 300 newspaper and magazine articles in publications like Modern Maturity (AARP), SF Chronicle and Santa Rosa Magazine. She was a contributor to two Chicken Soup Books and has published anthologies of her work, non-fiction works and novels. Her work has also appeared in a number of poetry and fiction anthologies. She has experimented with the self-publishing world since 2001. She has published and self-published seven books through companies like Author House, author assist companies like 3L Publishing and through traditional publishers like Write Life. Her poetry collection, Ammonia Sunrise, will be released in August 2011 by Finishing Line Press and her mystery novel, In Good Faith will be released by Write Life in 2011. Catharine holds a BA in English from UCSB and a MA in English from Sonoma State University. She is a 25 year member of California Writer’s Club. She is an adjunct professor for the University of Phoenix. She works with authors of both fiction and non-fiction to make their dream of producing a book come true. For more information on that, visit her at Catharine has lived in Sonoma County for 25 years and considers wine a food group. She is married to an adorable and very patient man who complains he’s never featured in any of her books. Her grown children who are featured in a few of her books have fled the county.

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