Life Sucks, Then You Die


Really. It’s been confirmed. The latest proof is a recent Newsday article: “U.S. Life Spans Notch Up.” But it was hardly good news.

According to the study, the average man in the United States lives to be 76 years and two months, which is actually a slight increase after four years of decline. Folks, this is not good news, especially if you are 77, which basically means you’re going to die last year.

I am personally not that worried, because I have always lived my life in a healthy and productive manner, like the good citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah. I consider my body to be a temple. In fact, Temple Sholum in Flatbush is where I met Julie Cohen in 1965. Christ, I thought I was in Sodom for a while. But that’s another story.

Back then we thought we would live forever, even though we had the Vietnam War to look forward to when we turned 18. I went to Fort Hamilton for my army physical just like all the other guys. Just like Arlo Guthrie in “Alice’s Restaurant.”

I failed the hearing test on purpose. I failed the vision test. I failed all the physical exams, even though I played four sports in school. I limped around, bent over, and walked into walls. When it came down to the written test, I ate the number two pencil and got a zero.

I was accepted into the U.S. Army anyway.

“I’m deaf,” I said. “We don’t give a shit,” the sergeant answered.

“I’m dumb,” I said. “Of course, you are — you showed up today, stupid.”

“I’m gay,” I finally said. “We’ll beat it out of you,” he replied helpfully.

Then, I must have had a flash into the future because I blurted out, “I’m LGBTQ.” That got his attention, at least for while. “You must be good at crossword puzzles,” he finally commented.

I never made it to Nam. Thank god for Donnie Trump, who told me to say I had flat feet.

I don’t remember much of the 1970s. I believed I spent the decade smoking organic weed until one of my buddies told me everything we smoked had rat poison on it. Yeah, but it was organic.

You shouldn’t have to work more than half your life away. I should have roughly the same amount of retirement time as work time on the books. Even if I don’t count my time here at The Independent as work — something that I ponder long and hard during my frequent trips to rehab. I figure I should have about 42 years of leisure left, and that’s pre-adult diaper.

Here is something I learned from reading the article, and I am not making it up: The number one cause of death in my age group is suicide. Oh. You didn’t need to pass the army math exam to figure that one out. The number two cause? Cancer. And if you kill yourself because you have cancer, you get bonus points.

Women outlive men by almost four years. This drives me crazy. First of all, women spend their entire lives without doing the kind of manual work that breaks down and cripples a body, like hauling stone, working in coal mines, and betting on football games.

I find it particularly annoying that Karen has been practicing signing my name to stuff — like my checkbook. I heard her ordering the Cliff’s Notes to “A Widow’s Journey.” She must be in a hurry.

But the most disturbing thing of late is her beside reading, which includes “Widows Wear Stilettos.” I got in trouble just for asking if I could look at the pictures.

It’s all a crapshoot. When my grandmother died unexpectedly in 1949, my grandfather bought a plot of gravesites for the whole family. One by one, they were buried there: Enrico, and then his three daughters and their husbands, and assorted other blood relatives who made the “final cut.” By the time my last aunt died, there was one grave site left — for mom.

Yes, you read that correctly. No room at the inn for Little Rick. (Apparently, I had opted for the temple in Brooklyn but that’s a long story.)

My mom started crying softly. “I’m the only one left. I’m the only one.” I paused for a second and pointed out, “Well, that’s kind of where you want to be.”

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