"I might live forever," Uncle Spud said smugly as he laced up his jogging shoes.
"What are you talking about?" I asked.
"I've been figuring up how long I'll live if I do what the doctors and the health magazines tell me to do," he said.
"What do they tell you to do?"
"They say if I stop smoking and do regular exercise I can add as much as 10 years to my life," he said. "So I decided to put out my smoke and jog over to the insurance office to negotiate a better deal."
"Figure it up," he said. "They just announced that the normal life expectancy for a guy like me is 78 years. By quitting tobacco and jogging, I can add 10 years to that and push my appointment with Saint Peter back to age 88. All I have to do is let someone else be the Marlboro man - nothing to it."
"It's about time," I offered.
"And then," he continued, "Every morning I watch that foxy exercise lady in the slinky leotards do her workout on TV. She said if I would join in for just 15 minutes, five times a week, I could extend my life by five years. So, 88 plus 5 is 93. Isn't that exciting?"
"There's an added bonus to doing leg-lifts with the TV exercise lady, too," he said. "I've lost almost two pounds. My doctor told me once that if I dropped 40 pounds I might add a couple of years to my life. Everyone knows that the loss of 40 pounds begins with the first leg-lift, so I'm well on my way. Add two to 93 and I'll live to be 95 for sure."
"And there's a cute commercial on TV where this little kid is laughing and the narrator says laughing can add eight years to my life," he said. "I watch all of the campaign speeches on TV and just laugh my head off. Let's see, 95 plus 8 is 103."
"And then," he said again, "Someone reported recently that married men live four years longer than unmarried men. I've been married four times so that means I can expect to live 16 years longer than those guys in the bachelor herd. Add 16 to 103 and you get 119. Most herd bulls don't live that long," he giggled.
"You can't be serious," I laughed.
"Oh, but I am," he insisted. "And I'm not through figuring it up yet. I read once that eating lots of fruits and vegetables can add three years to my life. No problem there, I eat onions and Tabasco sauce on everything. Add 3 to 119 years and my ticket to enter the pearly gates just got pre-dated to age 122.
"And," he continued, "On TV I saw a commercial that said people who own pets add seven years to their lives. I've got an ugly dog named Buckshot who sleeps under the porch. Add seven to 122 and I'm up to 129 golden years."
"And don't forget," he smiled. "People in Utah live about three years longer than the national average. I'm a native son. Add my Utah bonus points to 129 and my pre-celestial fitting for angel wings is deferred to age 132. Is this a great state, or what?"
"And finally," he said. "Doctor Oz said I can add a dozen years to my life just for having good jeans. Shucks, I've got a pair of jeans I've been wearing since 1965. They don't make good jeans like that anymore. Add 12 to 132 and I'll see 154 birthday candles for sure."
"Don't cancel your life insurance," I warned him as he finished lacing up his jogging shoes. "A blind, deaf, and crippled-up old geezer like you out jogging is likely to get run over by a truck. Living to be a hundred doesn't take into account the hazards of being stupid."
"You've got to be optimistic," he said. And then his eyes lit up like Moses. "Good grief - that's it," he said. "A recent study in an English medical journal said that optimistic people are 50 percent less likely to die than pessimistic people. Let's see, 50 percent of 154 years is 77 years. Add 77 to 154 and I could live to be 231 years old. Get my insurance guy on the phone. I demand a lower rate."