public eye

In perusing one of the daily papers recently, I found myself wondering how we came to believe, apparently, that we would live forever if modern medicine could just get its act together and fix whatever ails us.

As evidence of this, there is the August obituary of Rosa Bouglione, of Paris, who died at 107 years of age, after helping to found one of the world’s greatest circus dynasties:

“Rosa Bouglione … the queen of the big top for more than eight decades, died Aug. 26 at her home in Paris. She was 107. No cause of death was given.”

It’s just a guess, and even though my medical knowledge is limited to taking whatever pill it is that keeps my veins from becoming like the storm drains around here and filling up with sediment, but it could just be that Madame Bouglione might have died of … BEING ONE HUNDRED SEVEN YEARS OLD!

I mean, the cause-of-death hangup here seems to suggest that if medical research was just a tad more advanced, she might have lived to 108 or 208 or even 508, except for some nagging little ailment that sent her swinging up to the Great Trapeze in the Sky.

And it’s not just Ms. Rosa either, I discovered, as I looked at various other obituaries for notable oldies.

One I spotted on the same page was about a 91-year-old woman “whose cause of death was not disclosed.” How about being 91 as a contributing factor?

After all, if age is not one of the accepted reasons for our expiration — and we’re not born with some variation of the ubiquitous consumer advisory stamp that says, “This body is best used by …” then we would simply go on and on until we died of …

“Billy Bob Simplex, age 239, died Tuesday of an acute attack of boredom at his home in Hogjowl, Maryland.

Family members said his last words were, “I’ve been watching ‘Wheel of Fortune’ reruns for so long, I know exactly which dang vowel to buy” and then dropped dead on the spot.

“The family rejected the suggestion by medical researchers that he might have made it to an even 240 if he hadn’t been sitting so close to the TV.”

It’s conceivable — to some, apparently — that he could have done much better than a mere 240, if only we could eliminate all those other nasty little unspecified causes that get in the way of our beating Methuselah’s all-time record of 969.

Even in that case, it’s a fact that religious scholars continue to search for clues about how and why he moved on to the great beyond.

So far, all they know is, “Methuselah, 969, died just before the Great Flood. No cause of death was given.”

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