If there were a real Fountain of Youth, would you drink the water?
This prompt comes at a great time, because I’m just about finished with Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins, and I’ve been thinking about longevity for a while now. It’s no secret to me or to anyone observing my daily habits that they are bad ones and that I will probably die early of I don’t change my ways, or at least my diet. In Jitterbug Perfume Doctor Wiggs Dannyboy espouses during his seduction of Priscilla, the genius waitress and amateur perfumer, that people die more from bad habits than from anything else. His view on death is thus: “The universe does not have laws. It has habits. And habits can be broken.”
Whether such a fountain or perfume or method of staying young forever exists is not the question here, so I won’t dwell on that. But would I want to stay, as I believe Bob Dylan wished for me, “forever young?”
I can’t answer this question without carefully weighing all the facts. I’ve never been old, so I can’t say with conviction that I would and would not want to be old. Then again, a lot of the old people I know hate being old. But is that because being old sucks, or because they also had bad habits when they were young and are now suffering the consequences?
I have a lot of questions about life, and there’s a lot I don’t know. If I could stay young forever, but see the world and grow wise, that would be awesome. But if I just stay the same for a thousand years, like a sparkly Twilight vampire who never seemed to mature past adolescence, then the answer is no thank you, give me a cane and wrinkles, I can take it.
I have this vision of my boyfriend and I sitting on the stoep in our matching recliners, grumpy as shit, purposely forgetful and terse, but secretly kind to the grandchildren who come to hear stories of back when we were wanderers. That’s if I can change my bad habits in time.