Eric Kaldor

I’m Dying. Now Leave Me The Hell Alone.

Beating The Odds…

At this point I’m beating the odds.  The average American male life span is seventy seven years and I’m deep in my eighties and overall I feel pretty good.  But in America once you’ve lived eight decades—they won’t leave you the hell alone.

Want proof?  Here is the list of letters (all of them unsolicited) that I got last month: The Neptune Society, Burial at Sea, The Eden Mortuary, A Jewish Cemetery, The Forest Lawn Cemetery & Mortuary, a non-denominatial resting place.  That famous final resting place that takes up a large swath of The San Fernando Valley which could be used for public parks, schools, home etc. also sent me a 4 color brochure which must have cost a fortune.  The Mountain Society was more discreet.  Their letter head had the outline of a stately peak deep in the Canadian Rockies which, after cremation, would be my final resting place.

I say no thank you.

In addition to  these kind offers I gets solicitations from lawyers who want to update my will, prepare a living will or just go over my will so that anything I have left (and I’m trying hard as hell not to leave anything) does not go into probate.

They make probate sound worse than death itself.

And on top of these epistles which are going to make my demise better, easier and fairer to my descendants (whom as I mentioned I don’t care a whit about) I constantly get daily reminders about my failing faculties.  Over the last month and a half I have received letters offering me a free hearing test, a glossy brochure that rivaled Forest Lawn showing me the smallest, unobtrusive hearing aid, a letter with a discount on prescription glasses, two letters from hospitals extolling their expertise in replacing hips and knees.  A warning about the onset of diabetes and a Health Update from the biggest chain of hospitals in California.

I also must include the letters I get about various contraptions. In the last thirty days I have received pamphlets about motorized scooters, wheelchairs, devices to help you get out of the bathtub and bed, reading lamps with magnifying glasses and canes with easy grip handles and no skid tips and, of course, walkers.

And I also get magazines. (Lots of them.)  Every month there is a “glossy” from AARP with loads of advice on how to delay disease and death.  You’d expect that from The American Association of Retired Persons.  But what gets me are the newsletters I get from my unions and guilds I belonged to when I was a working stiff writer and actor.  Unions which I whole heartedly support.  Unions which give me a pension.  Unions which I still take an active part in.  But unions who constantly remind me of my impending death.  On the back of their monthly magazines they carry pages outlined in black and in a curly cue font listing all the members who kicked the bucket in the past thirty days.  I try not to but I always peruse the list.  I always find people I worked with, people I wished I worked with, and people I liked or disliked.  I look at their age when they passed.  I figure how much longer or shorter they lived than I have lived….And I’ve come to the inescapable conclusion that there’s no rhyme or reason for death.  People I’ve actively detested sometimes crack a hundred and some great guys and gals go in their fifties.  It pisses me off.

Incidentally, I categorically refuse to go to memorials or funerals but those those reminders keep coming too.

And now for my final gripe.  I’m talking about the solicitations I get from retirement homes.  Everybody looks so fucking happy—grown men and women are grinning like idiots over their lusty full of health laughing white haired mothers and fathers who seemingly are in the prime of their life.  There seems to be no pain, no decrepitude and certainly no death in these holding facilities.  It’s such crap.  And along with the grinning inmates these institutions give me lists and lists of amenities they offer.  There’s Gourmet dining (which I know includes only pureed stuff that is easy to chew), outings to gardens and museums (I’ve seen them all) workshops in how to use a computer  (I know how) arts and handicrafts (I have no interest) weekly variety shows (I cringe when I think of ninety year old broads singing ‘That Old Black Magic’) but despite all these misgivings one day I checked a retirement home out.

My working days were in television and I was getting monthly missives from The Motion Pictures and Television Hospital and Retirement Home asking me when I was coming aboard.  Finally I felt it was time to pay them a visit.  The Motion Picture Home is just off Mulholland Drive a few miles east of Malibu.  It’s an idyllic setting and its’ grassy lawns, well kept grounds, large movie theatre (where the studios show their new releases gratis) heated swimming pool, well stocked gym, airy dining  room and small but efficient and immaculate living quarters are all first rate …and all in all it’s one of the better places to go and die.  And I support them wholeheartedly but if only they’d stop sending me mail—-I’m not ready yet…and when I do I know how I’m going to do it.  Auto-asphyxiation.  That’s my route.  Hanging myself in the closet while I masturbate.  They say that’s the greatest high you can get. (Ask David Carridine—if you could.)

But I’ll put that off for a while.  But when I pull (sorry for the pun) it off, you can do anything with my body that you want to…Forget all the burials in the mountains or at sea.  Forget the earth burials—or  scattering my ashes to the winds.  I suggest leaving my withered old body where you found it—in the closet with a rope around my neck, my hand on my crotch and a smile on my face.

JoePa Could Throw Two Sewers

Let me take you back to Brooklyn, New York some sixty five years ago when Joe Paterno was a kid who could throw two sewers.  This is a remarkable feat passing a football the distance between two Brooklyn manhole covers.  I have tried to Google that distance but no stats are available.  Let me just say it was an astounding feat for us kids—most of us couldn’t get close to throwing a football one sewer….but what made it even more remarkable was there was another kid in my neighborhood who could do the same damn thing.  His name was Gene Rossides.  Gene played quarterback for Erasmus High while Joe Paterno was quarter backing for Boys High.  And when those two schools played each other it was super bowl time.  I couldn’t talk for a week after these games.  I was too hoarse.

Rossides was my man because he lived on my block and I idolized him and we both went to Erasmus High School.  Joe Paterno was the enemy who played for Erasmus’s nemesis Boys High.  But the two quarterbacks had a lot in common.  Both were first generation Americans as were most of us kids.  Both guys were small.  Imagine a five foot eight quarter back weighing a mere 145 pounds with arms like howitzers.

And both, besides being stellar athletes, were good students.  After high school they both attended Ivy League Schools.  Joe went to Brown and Gene went to Columbia.  And both brought football glory to their respective schools.

That’s what I like to remember about those guys….and I like to remember their cameradie though they were die hard opponents during the school year during the summer they often practiced together.

I remember both of them playing touch football in a vacant lot…sometimes I could even get into the game.  One time I caught a game winning touchdown thrown like a rifle shot by Paterno….

That’s how I want to remember JoePa.  A little guy with a rifle for an arm and a smile as wide as his face.

And that’s the Joe Paterno I will never forget.  Not the defeated old man hounded by the press, crumpled and disgraced (way out of proportion to what he had done or didn’t do in the Sandusky matter).  But I remember a guy who was a real hero, self effacing, humorous, bright and who would throw a bullet pass to little kids and knock them on their ass…and then he’d haul them to their feet and tell them, “nice going.” That’s the JoePa I remember—-a hero, a mench, a guy who could throw two sewers!


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