The Public Eye

printed 08/21/2020

Because I have a birthday coming up, I’m knocking off early this week and therefore present you with a reprint of a column about birthdays as a way of getting out of having to write a new one.

Once you reach a certain age, birthdays are traumatizing enough without reminders from others that you have long since entered the bonus round.

But it can get worse, especially when you know you have exceeded your own expectations, thanks to bad habits that you continue to pursue since life is a death-defying act anyway, so what the hell.

Besides, if your idea of heaven is free beer and tax-free cigarettes, as opposed to hand-holding group sing-alongs – as if every tone-deaf person in real life suddenly finds the right key upon his or her demise – you might as well get started early.

It was with these notions in the back of my mind that I marked the passing of another year not long ago by whipping up a cholesterol-bomb breakfast, grabbing the paper, putting on my reading glasses and bam …

Whoa! These can't be my glasses. My vision is fuzzy in one eye, and the other is just so-so. Something is out of whack here. These have to be her glasses, but no, they fit the way they're supposed to. This isn't right. I feel okay, but my eyesight is out of sync.

Oh boy. This is not good. Here it is my birthday and I've had an “event” as they say.

It figures. All my bad habits have caught up with me. It's all downhill now. I'll end up needing a caretaker.

I wonder who we'll get. Probably some hairy-knuckled giant who will say, “Time for your bath, little bubba.”

Sure, I know heaven is about the free beer and all, but I'd just as soon pay for it a while longer – and leave a nice tip – if I can go just another few. No, wait. That's it, I'll give up drinking everything that even whispers alcohol and quit smoking.

Yeah, no more cigarettes for me, and no more cholesterol-bomb breakfasts. No more Kraft Singles. Ditto Velveeta, Peanut M&Ms, ice cream and fried anything.

And I'll eat nothing but green leafy vegetables – steamed, even. I'll go into restaurants, assuming that I'll be able to get there under my own steam, and I'll say, "I'll just have the small salad. No croutons, no dressing, no bleu cheese on the side."

And charitable giving. Yep, that's going way, way up. If I don't need a nurse, I'll give that money to charity.

"What are you muttering about?" came the wifely voice from the entrance to the kitchen.

"Yeah, uh, well, the truth is ...”

"You do realize that you're glasses are missing a lens?"

"Oh yeah, I knew that. Okay then, so it's down to my super big birthday special breakfast. Happy birthday to me!"

"Ugh,” she said. “I don't know how you eat that stuff. It'll kill you one of these days."

"Not me,” I replied. “See, the key is not to worry about stuff like that."

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