SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

A Fine, Old Whine
By Dave Kiffer


December 18, 2005

Ketchikan, Alaska - I've been thinking about wine and cheese lately.

Probably because they are the few things that everyone agrees get better with age. And as one ages one begins to appreciate such subtle distinctions because we don't live in a society that gives a lot of "props" for aging.

I'm thinking about age because of several recent events my life - none of which was another birthday. Those fail to shake me anymore. Besides, every morning when I wake up and stumble out of bed, my knees remind me that I am no longer a whippersnapper. My whip got snapped a long time ago.

Last week, I was engaging in some important social interaction with several of my son's pre-school classmates and one mentioned that she was going to go to Kindergarten at Houghtaling next year. Without thinking, I remarked that I used to go Houghtaling.

gif kindergarten

Brian Fairrington, Cagle Cartoons
Distribute to subscribers by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.

"Wow, Liam's Daddy, when was that?

"Oh - and there was a long pause as I realized what I had started - just about 40 years ago."

Actually it will be exactly 40 years ago next year, but who's counting?

"Is that a long time?"

"Well, yes."

At this point Liam chimed in - probably because he doesn't like it when I hog his spotlight.

"That's a lot, a lot, a lot of sleeps," he said. And the conversation then turned to the cool butterflies they had colored in that morning's class.

It is a lot of sleeps. If 40 years seems like a long time, well 14,600 sleeps seems like a really, really long time. I should feel a lot more rested after all those sleeps.

Along those lines I was discussing Schoenbar with a woman recently and she expressed surprise that I was an alum of that august institution.

"When was that?" she asked.

"About 30 years ago," I replied.

"I had no idea you were that old," she added.

Uh, gee, thanks. I think.

Another incident that got me thinking is the fact that this last week my mom became a great-great grandmother.

Now that is something worth celebrating. It's hard to imagine someone living long enough to become a great-great grandparent.

My own set of great grandparents were born around the time of the Civil War but my mother has condensed her great-great grandparenthood into a little more than 80 years. And no, she didn't have her first child in elementary school like some folks are doing today.

For example, if a 16 year old had a child and that child had a child at 16 etc etc etc., it would then be possible to be a great-great-great grandmother at 80, although I wouldn't recommend it. One of my aunts took a bit of a run at that, she was a great-grandmother before she was 50. That's probably the reason she didn't make it 60 - that and continuing to smoke even after she had a lung removed.

Since I started child producing in my early 40s, there is little chance that I will live to see my great grandchild, let alone a great-great grand child. If I am still kvetching about this orb at age 100 heaven help all of us!

Which leads to the fourth thing that has gotten me thinking about aging. My once-a-decade physical.

I visited my doctor last week - hence forth to be referred to as the charming Dr. Hippocrates to hide any trace of identification.

Dr. H first asked me when my last physical was.

"Four or five years ago," I offered helpfully.

"No, 10," Dr. H said somewhat dourly.

"Must be a sign of aging," I replied. "I forgot."

Dr. H. asked me which bad habits I had a acquired in the last decade.

I confessed my continuing Coca-Cola habit, but noted I had switched to caffeine free in recent months. I admitted that still I did not smoke and rarely had anything alcoholic to drink.

gif Moderate Drinking

Moderate Drinking
Mike Lester, The Rome News-Tribune
Distribute to subscribers by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.

"You can drink occasionally," Dr. H offered.

My father would have loved that prescription, although for him occasionally would have meant no more than two six packs per day and even that would have been a significant cutback. My liver thanks me for not taking that route in life.

Then we discussed what things have been going wrong with my body in the past decade.

"My hearing isn't so good in a crowded, noisy room."

"Sign of aging," Dr. H. replied.

"I have trouble with really, really small print."

"Sign of aging," Dr. H. replied.

"My knees hurt going up stairs."

"Sign of aging," Dr. H replied.

"My wrists sometimes hurt for no reason."

"Sign of aging," Dr. H dittoed.

"I can't stand up for four hours playing the saxophone anymore"

Dr. H. pondered that one for a minute.

"Did you used to be able to do that?"


"Sign of aging"

I really didn't need to schedule a physical just to be told that I was 10 years older than I used to be. Perhaps, I should take up the good doctors advise and drink a little.

Maybe some Scotch would be in order. A nice bottle of Bowman single malt 46 year old Islay Scotch. Goes for just a jigger under $10,000.

Good thing someone still values the aging process.


Dave Kiffer is a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.
Contact Dave at

Dave Kiffer ©2005

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