WASHINGTON — The other day, I had a tooth pulled. The dentist was skilled, and the extraction was almost pain-free, but the experience was not entirely pleasant. The bad tooth proved obstinate, and the dentist had to bear down. At one point my head was whipped back and forth like a mafia stoolie being slapped silly by his don. I imagine similar kinetics occurred circa 1889 in dentists’ chairs in Tombstone, Arizona, out around back near the brothels and blacksmith shop, where screaming was drowned out by the clang of iron and gunfights over wimmin.
Losing part of one’s skeleton in such a dramatic manner caused me to contemplate mortality, which caused me to consider how my experiences at this end of life might benefit you, the younger reader.
Tips for coping with old age:
Don’t ever look up a recent photograph of your high school flame. Even more important, pray that he or she never looks you up.
Don’t ever look at your skin with a magnifying glass.
Don’t ever allow yourself to wonder, even for an instant, whether a good poop is better than good sex.
Do not ever calculate your molar-to-crown ratio.
Cross “sleep with Sophia Loren” off your bucket list. Even at 84, she’s still way out of your league.
Don’t come straggling into the office one morning muttering, “First, gout. Now ague, biliousness, lumbago, Saint Vitus’s dance and dropsy. What’s next, apoplexy?”
Don’t lift with your back. Or your legs, for that matter. Lift with some danged pulley system involving fulcrums and levers and inclined planes, or, better yet, just hire some dumb lunk.
If you are a man, don’t fight baldness! Embrace it — a lot of hot movie stars are bald. Unless, of course, you aren’t black, in which case you’ll look just like Elmer Fudd or Joe Garagiola. Embrace that, too, I suppose.
Never update your Facebook photo — even if you actually know how.
Never ask anyone “Who are you?” in case it’s someone you owe money to, or your daughter.
If you are walking out of the house and realize you are not wearing pants, don’t just assume it is a dream. Check.
You don’t have to sign text messages: The phone says who sent it.
Before you go into the next room, always write down why you are going into the next room.
Never pass a toilet without using it.
Always adopt a pet identical to the dearly departed one. That way people will think you are younger because a pet can’t be that old.
You know how sometimes you put something down in an unusual place and think, “I’m never going to remember where this is”? Well, you’re right, you won’t. Put everything on the toilet seat.
No more noogies. Face it, once and for all: Nobody likes them.
Stop yelling at people to get off your lawn. You live in an apartment building, for crying out loud.
Don’t say “For crying out loud” every time you complain about something.
Pick an attractive pharmacist. This is the only person you will be seeing a lot of.
After their 12th birthdays, your grandchildren will no longer think your thumb is their nose. So just cut it out.
Never dance like no one is watching. Actually, never dance.
When you have had a tooth removed, don’t ever allow yourself to even consider just leaving the gap rather than spending $3,000 for an implant, because you can’t take it with you.
Gene Weingarten is a nationally syndicated columnist who appears in The Washington Post.
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