I have known quite a few people in my circle of friends and family who did not live the â€śhealthyâ€ť way. My Granduncle John lived to be 101 years old, and every day of his adult life he had a bottle of wine with lunch and dinner (he made his own vintages from grapes grown on his property). Uncle John also ate chunks of gorgonzola cheese regularly, all the red meats he wanted, and washed it all down with desserts and coffee and powerful grappa (made from the detritus of the winemaking process). I know this seems out of the ordinary, but he lived his life the way he wanted with no excuses. Until he was in his mid-90s, Uncle John also used to climb a ladder to fix the roof, paint his house, and tend to his grapes and garden. Was he just lucky or did he know something we didnâ€™t know?
My grandfatherâ€™s secret (he lived until 88) was a glass or two of â€śhoochâ€ť before bedtime and the most putrid cigars anyone can imagine; another uncle (who died at 94) enjoyed unfiltered cigarettes well into his 90s (and he started smoking when he was 13), and various other relatives still eat pepperoni like bananas and drink wine or beer like itâ€™s bottled water. Do I advocate such a path? No! I donâ€™t tell people how to live their lives; I am just happy to see them live.
On the other hand I have known â€śhealth nutsâ€ť who are equally happy and contented. They eat their alfalfa sprout sandwiches and drink their green tea and jog ten miles a day. I am an equal opportunity friend and relative; I basically let everyone go his or her own way as long as they donâ€™t infringe on my lifestyle. When my cousin from California starts moaning about â€śall that cholesterolâ€ť and the â€śimpurities in my food,â€ť I just smile and walk away.
I know a few young women who are so conscious of their weight that they have started to worry me. I mean, will one or two pigs-in-the-blanket ruin their diets? Will one glass of wine? One dish of ice cream? The thing that worries me most is that this watching of weight can become an obsession and then descend into something far worse. I have also known a good friend who jogged daily, ate sparingly, never drank or smoked, and had regular medical check-ups. Although never sick a day in his life, he died in his driveway while putting out the garbage from a massive heart attack.