Everyone knows that 27 is the rock-star death year. Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison — they all died at that very young age. Naturally, it made sense to assume that I would pass then, too. What's So Funny is to humor columns what Hendrix was to guitar: on drugs and fond of fire. And black as the desert night. But I am 28 now, and seeing as how the rock-star death shall no longer be mine epitaph, I decided that it was time to start living for tomorrow, time to take care of my temple of a body, crafted of the finest man meat by the mighty lord Zeus himself. And what better way to do that than the 16th Annual Spring Into Health Day at the Denver Botanical Gardens?
Truth be told, I got wind that Mayor Hickenlooper and Governor Ritter were going to be there, leading people on a fitness walk. So I figured I'd attend and then write an entire column in Deadwood-speak. "The Ambulators!" I would pen, hilariously. "What better way than a robust constitutional with the civic archimandrite to ply one's cerebellum, to exert one's physical sleight! After the walk, please stop by Hickenlooper's Lock N' Barrel for a Refreshing Tonic and Bowl of Bovine Testicles!"
So imagine my surprise when I arrived at the Botanic Gardens and learned that not only were Hickenlooper and Ritter not coming as promised, but the entire day was centered around old people! Undaunted, I immediately drew the conclusion that — similar to how George Bush feels about the blacks, as he calls them — the mayor and governor don't care about old people. Sure, there were reps there from both offices who made the appropriate excuses about how both politicians had other obligations, blah, blah, blah. But me and my geriatric brethren knew the truth: They don't think we're cogent enough to work voting machines, so why bother pandering to us? For shame. After the way we served our country in all those wars, consarnit! Screaming, screaming, prune juice, sleep.
Denver Botanic Gardens
Clearly out of my element, I walked into the main reception room and listened to a musical act by the name of Cliff Spratt that involved a xylophone, keyboards and bongo drums. I didn't know what to make of this act, so I looked to the reactions of the many participants bused in by RTD SeniorRide. Judging by the smiles, clapping and adjusting of oxygen tanks, Cliff Spratt was fucking killing it.
After reps for the event's many sponsors spoke — reps who ranged from the City of Denver to Senior Care of Colorado to the Colorado Lottery — Dr. Joan Borysenko, Ph.D., presented her keynote speech, titled "Minding the Body, Mending the Mind," in which she offered tips about healthy living and healthy aging.
The only thing I really took away from all the speeches, though, was that old people shouldn't have cell phones. When most people have a cell phone go off during a speech or a performance, they clamor to shut it off as quickly as possible, rightfully horrified at their social faux pas. With old people, this is not the case. They just let that sucker ring. I'm 87, goddamnit, I've earned the right for this entire room to hear my banjo ring tone! One dude just straight up answered the phone and started talking! How badass is that? Pretty much the only thing I'm looking forward to about getting old is the complete and total not-giving-a-fuck that comes with the territory. Seriously, it's over between me and pants once I hit sixty.
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As I strolled the beautiful grounds and watched elderly folk taking in their health walk, I decided it was a great way for them to spend a Friday, out of their houses, getting exercise. But then I saw Laughter Yoga, a course offered through a group called Denver Laughs. Scientifically, the two instructors claimed, there is no difference between fake laughter and real laughter. Then I watched a circle of people fake laugh for fifteen minutes. As a standup comic and humor writer, I can tell you that there most certainly is a difference between real and fake laughter, and if you think encouraging the artificial variety is healthy in any way, you are mistaken. How it worked was this: The people went around in a circle, attaching an adjective to their name, then laughing their septuagenarian guts out as they did a silly dance or something. Joyful Jane! Ha, ha, ha! Exuberant Emily! Ha, ha, ha! Merry Mary! Ha, ha, ha. I-Don't-Care-If-It-Doesn't-Start-With-an-A-I'm-Fucking-Baffled-to-the-Point-of-Actual-Sadness Adam!
Ha, ha, cry, leave.
Still, as I was walking out of the Botan, I admired these wrinkled warriors for getting their health on, and I couldn't help but hope that when I'm old, I'll have the energy to pry my swollen ass off my futuristic floating space chair and enjoy a beautiful day outdoors. But more than anything, I just hoped they'd still have ring tones in the future so I can interrupt some whippersnapper's speech with Salt-N-Pepa's "Push It."