Hardy Plumbing
April 27, 2011

How To Live A Long And Healthy Life


I don't jog.

The only time I run is when someone is chasing me, or if I'm late for something really important, like dinner.

I know running is supposed to be good for you, but I don't believe it. They say it builds up your heart and lungs – all I know is when I used to run my lungs hurt, and my heartbeat was way too fast. The way I look at it, your heart should beat like you're about to have an orgasm only when you are about to have an orgasm.

People don't realize the old joke is actually a true story. A guy in Queens who smoked three packs of cigarettes for 25 years quit when he finally started believing how bad smokes were for you. He turned a new leaf and started jogging every morning. One day he got hit by a truck and died – it was a Marlboro truck. I kid you not.

That's God's way of saying, "Don't get all green on me. Don't give up meat and start eating beans. Don't start recycling every piece of crap that passes through your house. Do not even think of reducing your carbon footprint, or I'll have to kill you."

In the old days we didn't use the word "run" literally. When we said, "I'm gonna run over to Tim's house," it meant we would drive there. The only exercise you did was bend down and touch your toes. If you could do that, you were good to go. (In fact, even if you couldn't touch your toes you were probably OK).

My dad used to say "I'm going out to stretch my legs." It meant he was going to the bar on the corner.

I played sports all my life and every school team required that we get a medical permission slip to be eligible. All of those exams – every one – consisted of a single test administered by a man with a doctor's degree: I would drop my pants, he would grab my gonads and tell me to turn my head left and cough. It didn't matter if a kid was rotting away with cancer, had scarlet fever, or was a leper. If you could cough, you could play. It was the singular measure of fitness.

"Hey coach! Hey coach! Today I had my medical exam and I coughed really loud!"

"Well, OK Rick, you're our new clean-up hitter!"

No one did yoga but yogis. No one knew Kung Fu except Bruce Lee. A few guys lifted weights but they were weird, because they always put oil on their chests while they were lifting. Here is a rule to live by I learned early-on: Unless it's Vick's VapoRub, avoid men who put oil on their chests. If you're not familiar with Vick's, it's like putting lighter fluid on your skin and lighting it. Our parents used to rub it on our chests when we had a cold and warn "don't touch it." We would of course, and then rub our eyes, pick our noses, and stick our fingers in our ears, effectively making us deaf, dumb, and blind for six hours.

Meat-Potato-Vegetable -- that was the American way. Vegetarians were weirdos. You became a vegetarian to get out of serving in the army.

Foreigners, people like Gandhi, didn't eat meat. But they smuggled hashish into this country by sticking a black glob of it right between their eyes. Worked every time. They said it was a "Prostration Mark." We used to call it "Lebanese hash." Whatever. And yes, in case you are wondering, prostrators are not allowed in the military. That was before "don't ask don't tell."

In those days the only day we didn't eat meat was Friday. I was never sure why. As far as I could tell, though, Judas betrayed Jesus in the Garden of Eden (which wasn't even organic), Jesus was crucified, but he came back in time to get his Easter basket and everyone was happy. Ergo, if we didn't eat fish every Friday there would be no chocolate bunny and Judas would be promoted to "assistant god" or something like that.

In those days frozen food was in vogue. We'd have fish sticks one Friday. We'd have clam strips another Friday. Sometimes we'd have the "fisherman's platter" which as far as I could tell contained no fish of any kind, and was something no fisherman ever ate. It was basically fried bread crumbs and French fries, and no one was sure what was what. This went on for years, until one day I said, "Ma, we live in Sag Harbor. Why don't we have real fish on Fridays?" It was the Big Duh Moment in the history of our family.

Here's what we have learned today: if you want to live forever, follow these guidelines:

1. When you wake up, at least try and touch your toes. Guys, grab your balls, turn your head to the left, and cough. Gals, you're on your own.

2. Don't run anywhere, unless someone with a knife is chasing you – in that case, run like hell.

3. Never eat beans, that was the creator's cruel inside joke.

4. Never exercise except for #1, unless you are Catholic, then you can try Pontius Pilates if you really want to.

5. If you want your Easter basket, better continue to eat fish products on Fridays just to be on the safe side.

6. Don't smoke anything that has been stuck on someone's face.

Follow these simple rules and you will live to enjoy a long and healthy life – unless you get hit by a Marlboro truck.

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