Originally created 10/12/03

For a select few, life begins at 100

He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.

- Winston Churchill

I've got a new goal. I want to live to be 100.

I want to look back over 10 decades and refer to it as "My Century."

I want to be asked by young whippersnappers for my secret of longevity.

I want to look at them for a moment, then wink and say, "If I told you, sonny, it wouldn't be a secret, would it?"

I want to give 70-year-olds a hard time and tell them their music stinks and things were better back in my day.

I want to star in a denture commercial.

I want to outlive my enemies and read their obituaries with a certain satisfaction.

I think I can make it.

Once, while doing a story on fortune-telling, I had a palm-reader check out my hand.

She nodded appreciatively and said, "You'll live a long time."

And years ago, a doctor giving me a physical pulled out a piece of scratch paper and started plugging in factors for a formula he'd adapted.

He added them all together and predicted I would make it to at least age 83.

"And you'll live even longer if you settle down and get married," he said.

"Will that work?" I asked.

"Even if it doesn't," he said, adding his standard punch line, "it will seem that way."

I know the five major factors that experts say hedge your bets on reaching the century mark.

First, be a woman. They live longer. (I can't do anything about this, so let's move on.)

Second, be middle-aged now. By 2010, more than 130,000 Americans will be 100 or older. By 2050, that number is projected to be 834,000. (I'm on my way.)

Third, live to at least 85. Statistics show that if you make it to 85, that's a good indication you'll make it for 15 more.

Fourth, stay married. (I'm planning to.)

Fifth, take an aspirin and hope for good genes.

A long life is said to be about 50 percent connected to healthy lifestyle, 20 to 30 percent genetics, and all the rest is something else.

Probably luck.

Wish me some.

Reach Bill Kirby at (706) 823-3344 or bill.kirby@augustachronicle.com.


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