How to stop aging and weight gain with vodka and ice cream

Editor & Publisher

Nature is cruel. The brightest flower pushes its way through the spring snow to be trampled by a dog or killed in a frost the next day.

The prettiest faces succumb to age, to the ravages of the sun and time and salt. Can you believe Keith Richards once looked youthful and cherubic?

The most athletic bodies eventually succumb like aging sports cars. Gaskets blow, radiators start to leak and suspensions start to creak.


Terror at home

The mirror and the scale are soon our twin neurotic enemies. Who can look into the face of either and not have it talk back?

Sometimes I hop on the scale and I imagine I am at the carnival and expect a bell to ring like when you whack the pivot board and the metal ball rises to the very top. But instead, I get a digital readout. I hate digital readouts because you cannot argue with something digital. It is like when the officer showed me the speed on the radar gun on I-75 last week. “Mr. Reid, you really were going 91 in a 70.” Then as I walked toward my car I think I heard him say,  “Oh, yeah, and your scale ain’t lying to you either.”


The American way

Being American, I have two modes. When I am happy or attain success at something, I eat and drink and celebrate.

And when I am sad and dejected and need a pick me up, I eat and drink even more.

So on my way home after getting my $180 ticket I stopped off at El Toro Bravo for dinner.

Later that night I hopped on the scale and a voice filled the bathroom saying, “Holy crap; cease and desist!  Wow! where the hell did those three pounds come from? Can a dinner of a chimichanga, guacamole, a basket of chips and flan really add three pounds? Stop walking around Publix and Whole Foods. You are past the realm of untucking the shirt to hide the weight.”

I always reweigh myself to confirm the bad news. Kind of like reading an obit twice. How can the weight gain exceed the mass of what I ate?

I start to yell at the founder of the Law of Conservation of Mass as I walk to the mirror.


Mirror, mirror

The worst thing to do once you hit or pass middle age is to weigh oneself and then look in the mirror.

Think of all of the comments you say to yourself over the years when you look in the mirror. I know intrinsically it is psychologically healthy to love myself and to accept my flaws and to be kind and gentle when looking in a mirror. But I am from New York and harsh comments and an inner dialogue that resembles a cab driver after a fender bender is more my demeanor.

So I start in:

“Wow, you have aged! My face is looking like my old Roberto Clemente baseball mitt from childhood. Are those eye wrinkles a sign of character and a positive, or, am I growing uglier by the moment in real time as I look in the mirror? Whoa! Is my hair receding? I wonder if my wife notices?”

I tell myself that much of love is what we are willing to overlook in each other. Love is accepting the good, the bad and the sublimely ugly. Love tolerates all. Then I respond, “No, Percocet and vodka tolerates all.”

Joking aside, here is the relevance of why all of this matters. And it affects each of us in its own way.


The art of invisibility

We are all on a path to invisibility.

In fact, think of all the visual tricks humans employ to be noticed and convey visual information: tattoos, breast implants, hair dye, piercings of all types, Botox, swanky clothes, cleavage, watches and wealthy adornments, ear lobe expanders, belly rings, tongue rings, wedding rings, Corvettes, Harleys with loud pipes. The list goes on and on.

Still, time starts to render us less visible. Aging beauties get less looks. The guy in perfect shape is less noticed in the final years of his life. The retiree plays a diminished role. The obese are often looked at less. That is a fact, the irony is as people gain weight they are noticed less by the opposite sex – they become less visible.

And as we age, we compensate with bigger diamond rings, nicer cars and other outward signs of success to up our ante so to speak as the younger generation can rely on mere physicality.

And think of the impact of retirement: trading the running of a boardroom to debating hedges on a homeowners association or running a bridge game.

And it is precisely in this invisibility that lays the solution.


Minting a moment

All of that outer success, all of the chasing of dreams and the chasing of money, the chasing after the opposite sex can transform into something greater and more profound.

Think of art, theatre and writing. Imagine the experience of spirituality in all of its varieties. Picture the joy of children and grandchildren.

These are the treasures that earn us nothing and have little to do with outer accomplishment yet are the most important and rewarding aspects of life.

It is only when we stop relying on the mania of staying visible at any cost and focus on the greatest gifts humanity can offer that the richness of life comes into focus.

Take my past week: all of the work selling ads, all of the watching of Commission meetings, all of the juggling finances, all of the exercising to stay in shape are the mundane tasks that set the stage.

The greatest moments in my week were:

• Watching my wife and daughter laughing in the kitchen together as my daughter studied Russian flashcards.

• Hearing my four-year-old say “I love you daddy” as I tuck her in each night.

• Reading Euripides for no reason other than to feel the power of one of the world’s great dramatists.

• Watching the reaction on Lillian Sands’ face when I asked if she would get married again.

• Noticing the full October moon rise in the evening with my son out in the front yard both in awe of the size of the luminous orb which resembled a cross between a swollen grapefruit and Joe Biden’s head.

And most of all, the greatest impact on my life was when a friend told me her daughter was dying and there was nothing she could do to help her and she had to head north to the hospital.

I sensed all of the meaning and agony of nature, and I as a father felt sad. But she gave birth and was off to see her daughter die in a hospital bed on some cold fall day in the coming week.

I did not know how to respond. I was only thankful that she told me. It made her life more visible in a way that jolted me out of the present and all of my little worries and for a moment I was frozen in her grief and sadness.

As I drove to my family and house full of children and life I thought of her driving to the airport alone.

I headed to our gate and then turned the car around. I stopped and suspended all thought and feeling and drove to Publix to pick up a sub and a carton of mint chocolate chip ice cream.

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