He's often referred to as my "102 year old boyfriend", but now Sal is correcting people and letting them know that he is in fact, 102 1/2 years old. And he's not really my boyfriend... because he has a 91 year old girlfriend who, in all the years we've dined together, has never joined us-- That's Sal's call, not mine, by the way.
We have lunch together ever other week, each time taking turns "treating" the other to a cup of soup and splitting a pastrami sandwich on rye bread. Lunch is early-- 11:45 am, but since Sal always arrives at 11:30, so I do too. It's early for lunch, but somehow we always manage to polish off our meal and chat together for nearly 2 hours.
Sal is never short on conversation because in all honesty, he's far more active than I am-- Taking in usually 3-4 evenings of music concerts or other live performances a week, and often having as many as 4 more business related meetings ranging from Boards of non-profits that he's active on, to meetings at two different major universities in our area, as well as various other organization gatherings that he's involved with. In fact, at each lunch I have to make our next lunch date to get on his calendar before it fills up.
This lunch's main topic of conversation involved a world renown physician who'd recently wined and dined him in an effort to squeeze a few donations out of Sal-- Cold hard cash for a research grant and the other for several veils of blood and countless scans and tests to learn more about his remarkable aging process. (If you met Sal you'd think he was somewhere between 78 and 80 years old.)
Sal was having none of it and tactfully declined on both requests. He'd already done both and, despite his fondness for the doc and his interest in aging-- after all Sal is kind of an expert in it himself-- he'd funded numerous "aging tests" for another doctor when he turned one hundred and he wasn't interested in getting poked anymore.
But this doc did not give up easily. His research study was quite different from the others. The main interest of this big-shot physician was to predict what Sal would actually die from and he kept on pushing for a positive response!
Sal thought that "sales pitch" was hysterical.
But he had no interest in finding the answer to that question.... because Sal said he'd never know if the doc was right because.... he'd be dead.
Sal laughed some more but the truth was he didn't want to know what he could potentially die from.
It's a strange thing to have a conversation about death with someone Sal's age. I am keenly aware that every lunch is potentially our last, despite his excellent physical and mental health. I cherish the friendship and the meaningful conversations we share, but talking about death with him made me a bit sad.
Sal could tell I was getting a little choked up by the topic so he explained his thinking, doing his best to to make me laugh as hard as he was. Apparently this doc is an "expert" in people over the age of 108 years old and he wanted Sal to be a "member of that club". But, after detailed conversation, Sal discovered he wasn't at all interested in joining the club because the 108 year olds the doc was researching were, in Sal's mind, "old" and not all that "with it".
In fact, Sal was telling me, he didn't want to ever get "that old".
I can't say as how I blame him about that last statement. Neither Sal nor I are interested in a long life if it is not a full and complete one, but I still wasn't laughing.
So he told me about the time he was in college and three of his law school buddies decided to drive his old Model T automobile up to Mammoth Mountain. Problem was that 3/4 of the way up the "big rubber band" snapped and the car would no longer move forward, only backwards. Apparently back in the day the cars had three of these "rubber bands"-- forward, reverse and stop. So Sal had his buddies push the car while he steered and turned the car around so they could drive up the rest of the mountain in reverse.
That I laughed at, even though he'd told me the stories years ago. Several people within earshot of our booth laughed too.
But in all seriousness, we did talk about the potential benefits to others if Sal took the tests. He felt he'd "done his part for science" and even donated the hefty tab for the last round of in-depth testing he'd participated in. With those tests, Sal did not want to know the findings saying life was good-- Why mess it up with things that might stress him out.
Sal's "keep stress to a minimum" attitude is one of the reasons he's doing so fantastic at 102 1/2. Although I still didn't laugh, I was smiling at his wisdom.
Welcome to www.TheFiftyFactor.com - Joanna Jenkins
Photo Credit: © freshidea - Fotolia.com