Tuesday, November 4, 2008

How to Age Happily and Naturally in These Troublesome Times

With these days of economic, cultural, and environmental uncertainty in mind - and on the eve of what could be an historic presidential election - I’ve taken it upon myself to impart a few guidelines on how to live your life if you wish to age well, get by, or just plain survive. I’m assuming that you are like me; male, between the ages of 18 and 45, and working hard to prepare for the future of yourself and your family. Although, really, either gender, any age set, and work ethic can apply, but it is with the former criteria in mind that this study was originated. And it probably won’t hurt if you’re white, too.

That said, these guidelines, or rules for well-being, have been revised many times since their creation and should not be considered definitive despite the fact that many believe them to be foolproof. As they say, your results may vary, but so far I have seen a 99% success rate. In other words, there are lots of happy, old geezers around because of me. And this can be you. You, too, can be happy until you die.

So, here it is, my step-by-step guide on how to make the ‘new you’ happy and successful:

1.) Exercise. Yes, exercise, and then give it up after about a week. You know you will anyway, so why waste time unnecessarily exerting yourself when you have more important things to do? You have deadlines and stress at work, a lazy family to support and feed, a house to keep up, a plasma TV to watch, a lawn to mow, and a dog to walk. No, wait: Do not mow the lawn or walk the dog. Let your lazy-ass, good-for-nothing kids do it. The “new you” should do as little walking as possible because walking becomes your enemy as you get older, so you might as well get used to being immobile while you’re young enough to enjoy it. Maybe you could even get a head start and buy yourself a motorized wheelchair now instead of waiting until your legs give out and your hips break later. Because, when the shit drops (and by “shit” I mean bombs, planes, biological weapons, or whatever is coming next), you’re going to need to be able to move faster than the other guy in order to save your own ass. So, in lieu of being in any kind of physical shape worth noting or being able to afford the aforementioned wheelchair, always make sure to wear running shoes wherever you go, whether it be to work, church, a fancy restaurant, in bed, or in a swimming pool. You’ll be glad you did, and you’ll be thanking me and laughing at the suckers in socks, sandals, high-heels, and dress shoes as you blaze passed them to safety. Also, along with lack of exercise, please be sure to follow rule 1a: Let your personal hygiene go to waste and take up smoking and drinking heavily, if you haven’t already. Trust me; you’ll be much, much happier when you do.

2.) Eat well. Eat often. Eat a lot. If it tastes good it is good; this is your new motto. There’s no sense in not ordering something from a menu or buying it in a store just because conventional wisdom tells you that it’s bad for you. Remember, it’s somebody’s job somewhere to invent a new buzzword every five minutes just to keep you “healthy” and to keep their pockets full. Speaking of “full”, the words “I’m full” will no longer be in your vocabulary if you truly wish to age happily. Stuff, cram, wedge, do whatever you can to get it in there, but get it in there. Trust me, you will be smiling.

3.) Show others that you are a good listener, then prove to them that you really aren’t and that you don’t care one bit about them or their troubles or their happiness or whatever they happen to be babbling on about at the moment. By all means, act interested. Smile, nod, and show concern as they relate their tales of woe to you, but when they ask for your advice, simply apologize and tell them that you weren’t paying any attention and ask if they could please repeat their story, emphasizing the word “story” with marked sarcasm and air quotes, all the while keeping in mind that it’s best to be polite when being rude as it never fails to bewilder the listener. If this tactic doesn’t work, and they actually repeat their “story”, interrupt early and often with absurd witticisms and nonsense asides, always making sure that these comments of yours are wholly unrelated to their topic of conversation. In addition, try using the annoying technique of opposites where you laugh when they cry, smile when they appear angry or frustrated, and show jealousy and sadness when they’re elated about some personal good fortune. They’ll most likely ask your mutual friends what the hell your problem is, but that’s a good thing; the quicker the word spreads around that you’re an insensitive curmudgeon the better. It’ll only spare you from having to listen to all of their agonizingly boring stories about themselves, their wives, and their kids, and it will make more time for what’s really important. And that, of course, is you. Also, pay close attention to rules number 1 and 1a. You may never have to be rude to another friend again if you’ve honed the craft of being out of shape and smelly. But always – always - be unhelpful. The less of their stress you have in your life, the more happily and naturally you will age.

4.) Keep your “ears open” for job opportunities for an unemployed friend. Sometimes it’s hard to avoid “friends”, even if you’ve already mastered rule #3. They’ll get to you somehow, either via phone messages or, much more easily these days, email. So, go along with it. Reply to them. Tell them you’ll keep your “ears open” for them. Just don’t say a word about it when you actually do find out about one. Hey, times are tough, and the way jobs are being cut these days, you might find yourself in need of that particular position when you get axed tomorrow. So, don’t be generous. Keep it to yourself. The “new you” might be happy you did.

5.) Don’t let the opinions of others control your life. Fuck them. The “new you” doesn’t have time to listen to their platitudes, and you shouldn’t even be on speaking terms with any of them at this point anyway. So, if that’s the case, if you’ve been successful with #3 above, then I guess we’re talking about your family here. Well, fuck them, too. Without you, they’re nothing. Compassion and generosity is the old you, and it’s about time the “new you” made the phrase “ignorance is bliss” a good thing, not a bad thing.

6.) Keep up the good work. Or don’t. Who cares?

7.) Don’t recycle. Has anybody ever proved to you that recycling really does anything? Seriously. I think the “new you” is smart enough to know a waste of time when he sees it.

8.) Don’t share. No matter what it is, no matter who is asking for it, don’t share it. Even if it’s your own family - your own kids – look away and tell them to go get their own. You’re not running a charity here.

9.) The children are our future, so let’s refuse to educate them. Indeed, take your kids out of school and don’t ever let them read anything of value on their own. From now on, the works of Charles Dickens are the same as pornography and should never be found in the sweaty hands of your kids or hidden under their mattresses. There’s no such thing as independent study time for your little precious. Instead, force them to watch The Three Stooges (and only The Three Stooges), read Archie Comics (and only Archie Comics), and play Tetris (and only Tetris) for hours upon hours, for years and years, until the tiny brains in their maturing bodies are rotted and completely uninformed. With the mess we’ve already made of things, the dumber our kids are means the quicker this place goes completely to hell and the less time we’ll need to spend aging at all.

10.) Cease the day. Yeah, that's right. Cease the day. Don’t try to make every day the best day ever. Don’t search for meaning that can never be found. Don’t wake up one bright, sunny morning and declare that today is the day that you’re finally going to do all the things that you’ve always wanted to do but for some reason never have, because even if you partake in the most enriching, life-affirming activities the world has to offer, I guarantee you that you will only wake up the next day feeling empty and still wondering what it all means. You think you're dumb and confused now? Well, you’ll feel even dumber and more confused than you did the day before, plus, you’ll be tired. So, why bother? Why do anything, really? All of it will only make you depressed, and eventually you’ll be depressed, tired, and old, and that's just no good. I mean, who needs another old, depressed white guy around? I sure don’t. So, cease the day, my friends. Cease the day.

So, I guess that’s it. Even if you only manage to follow a few of these simple guidelines, I assure you that you’ll find yourself sitting comfortably in the splendor of old age, wondering how it could have ever been so easy. The only thing you’ll need when you get there is a good hobby to help pass the time. Because, you know, nobody’s going to want to talk to you. Or be near you. So, if you don’t already have a hobby in mind, please feel free to read the following subject, “How to Win at Solitaire and other One Player Card Games”.

Copyright to the author 2008.

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