With breathless anticipation, the shape of things to come


My wife Janet and I were out shoppin’ the other day, and no, I don’t like to shop, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do to keep your woman happy.

Anywho, we were walkin’ along when this young man walks up with some brochures in his hand.

“Excuse me sir,” he said, “may I ask you a few questions?” Now, usually I’d politely decline sayin’ somethin’ like, “Thank you, but I’m not interested.” Like I said, that’s what I would usually say, but not this time. The reason bein’ was that I was bored out of my gourd.

I hate shoppin’. I don’t mean I dislike shoppin’, I hate it, and I’ll usually do just about anything to get out of it. So when the young man asked me, I stopped walkin’ and said, “Sure. What’s up?”

Well, when I stopped Janet stopped, too. I looked at her. She was starin’ a hole through my head. I knew what she was thinkin’. She was thinkin’, “What are you doing, you idiot?” She thinks that a lot, you know.

“Thank you for your time,” the young man said. “It won’t take a minute.”

“Take all the time you want,” I said, and then looked and smiled at Janet. She didn’t smile back.

“Sir,” he said. “How would you like to get into shape?”

“Ha!” laughed Janet. I looked at her, not smilin’ this time. I looked back at the young man.

“In shape for what?” I asked.

“Uh… you know, uh… in better shape than you are now,” he stammered.

“Who says I’m not in good shape?” I asked.

“I do,” said Janet as she raised her hand.

“Nobody’s talkin’ to you,” I said to Janet.

“Look at me,” the guy said. “Wouldn’t you like to be in the shape I’m in?”

“No offense, buddy,” I said, “but you look a little wormy to me.”

“Let me ask you these questions,” he said. “Maybe it will help you decide,” and he looked down at a clipboard.

“Are you frequently out of breath?”

“Yes,” said Janet.

“He asked me,” I said.

“I was answering for you,” she replied.

The young man made a check on his paper. “Do you feel older than you are?” he asked.

“He is older than he is,” said Janet.

“Would you pipe down?” I said. The guy made another check.

“Hold on buddy,” I said. “Where is this all leadin’?”

“Sir, I’m just trying to establish if you are out of shape.”

“My shape is fine,” I said.

“Yeah,” said Janet, “if you’re a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day balloon.”

“Shut it,” I said.

“Sir, what if I could tell you how you could lose 20 pounds of ugly fat?”

“What are you going to do?” asked Janet. “Cut off his head.”

I glared at her. She smiled at me.

“No,” the guy said. “I represent a gym and we can put you through a series of tests to evaluate your needs, and then, not only recommend exercises, but what you should eat, and also a way of life to help you maintain your heath.”

“Look bud,” I said. “Why would I want to do that?”

“Sir, don’t you want to live longer?”

“Oh, you can promise me I’ll live longer?”

“Well, no sir. No one can promise that.”

“But I will look better in my casket, right?”


“And I’ll die healthy, too.”


“Look kid,” I said. “I like me just the way I am, even though you and my wife don’t. I don’t want to die healthy. There’s nothin’ sadder than listenin’ to people at a funeral home sayin’ stuff like, ‘I can’t believe he’s gone. He was so healthy.’ When I die, I want them sayin’, ‘I can’t believe he lasted this long. He should have been dead years ago.’ And another thing; I don’t want anyone tellin’ me what I should eat. I want to eat what I want to eat. In fact, if I had my druthers, I’d like my last dyin’ breath to smell like bacon.’’

“But what about your wife if you die early?” he asked. “What will she do?”

“Well, let’s see. Between the insurance, and all my junk she’ll sell off, she’ll make out like a bandit.”

“Yeah,” said Janet. “And I won’t have to work so hard keeping the house clean.”

“Keep quiet,” I said.

“So buddy,” I said to the young guy. “Peddle your propaganda somewhere else. I’m gonna walk right down there and get me a couple of chili dogs and wash them down with a great big root beer. If I die right in the middle of my meal, I will have died happy,” and I turned and walked away.

“Well, that was interesting,” said Janet. “I’m going to do some more shopping. Do you want to come?”

“Naw, I think I’ll sit down awhile. I’m outta breath.”


Special Sections