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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Why more people are dying to become the oldest living person on earth.

He might look like Anthony Hopkins
"So where do you see yourself in 100 years?" Methuselah was asked in a job interview, or so the story goes.

"Oh, same old, same old." 

 Methuselah holds the record at age 969, according to the Bible. It is said that he didn't look a day over 900. He actually lived from Adam to Noah. But first people had to live longer or where would we be? With more than 7 billion people on earth, we gotta die sooner... or else.

 At this moment Jeralean Tally, born in 1899, is the world's oldest at 116. There are only four living who were born in the 1800s. Ages of record proportions are verified by the Gerontology Research Group which tracks such things.

Longest lived since the mid 1950s when verifiable records were tracked is Jeanne Calment, a chain-smoking French woman who made it to 122 years, 164 days. Take that Surgeon General. She probably liked snails too.

The average tenure for that title has slipped...  from one year to just seven months. For Gertrude Weaver who died last April, her reign was just four days. Fame is fickle. On the brighter side, with every death of the world's oldest, we all move one slot closer to the brass ring. Before her death, Weaver did acknowledge that she had completed her bucket list.

Biggest benefit by being the oldest person: No peer pressure.

Science tells us that a baby born today could reasonably live to age 150 because of all we now know. Question is, would anyone want to do that... especially if she were a Cub fan? And I do say she because it is the women who have the longevity edge, theorized because they have two X chromosomes--the second being like a back-up--and men only have one chance at it.

All of this is speculative, of course, but things such as war and famine and lack of potable water have a way of changing expectations. The Syrian civil war has dropped that country's life expectations from 79.5 years to 55.7 years.

Maybe Benjamin Button had the right idea. He died at 0 in poo poo pants after being born a shriveled-up old man. "Hey Ben, you look younger every time I see you."

The very long lived are called antediluvians.

After Methuselah's 969 came Noah who made it to 950. Adam was 930 and Seth was 912. Eve was up there in the 900s, so it is said, but she gets extra credit because she had 56 children--33 sons and 23 daughters--all of them after her 100th birthday. Talk about late in life babies... or not.

Humankind however are pikers. The world's oldest tree has lived almost five times longer than Methuselah and is still racking them up. It grows 13,000 feet up on California's White Mountains. At 4,768 years it has more rings than Zsa Zsa Gabor and Liz Taylor combined. Then feel sorry for Mormon founder Joseph Smith who had to buy 28 of them.

Will Rogers had a good plan for longevity:  "We could certainly slow the aging process down if it had to work its way through Congress."

And it is Rita Rudner who gives a hint as to why women live longer: "My grandmother was a very tough woman. She buried three husbands and two of them were just napping."

But it is George Carlin that has the best attitude: "So far, this is the oldest I've ever been."

At my last physical, the doctor said I'd live to 75. When I told him I already had, he said "See, I told you so."

Good luck on your journey but remember, it's not how long but how well. Be nice!

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