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January 11, 2014

As Time Goes By: There are many things I'm glad I didn't do in my lifetime

The Daily Star

---- — The other day, someone told me that there would come a time when I would consider looking at my “plus and minuses.” They intimated that I still had time to reconcile any deficits in my character before pleading my case to the judge in the hereafter.

There are a number of things that I am glad that I didn’t do, and one on the top of my list is jumping off from a bridge attached to a bungee cord.

I suffer from vertigo looking over the edge of a picnic table, so just looking over the edge of a bridge would bring my breakfast and my big toe up to be heaved into the atmosphere. Add to that would be the fact that the bungee cord would have a break strength of 370 pounds and I scale in at 371. Snap goes the weasel and splat goes the Geerken.

Tall buildings that sway in strong winds also bother me. I was thrilled to learn that, in a high wind, a tall building that I was touring would sway 17 inches out of vertical. My interest always lies with “How much sway equals no tours today?”

For example, if you had a heavy gust causing a deflection of 20 inches, would the building just keep on going? At what floor would it just snap off, or would it be ripped up by the subway?

I’m glad I never got the urge to swim the English Channel or the Straits of Florida. For one thing, I would probably end up swimming to Cuba the wrong way and sharks would be waiting off the coast of France for that famous sushi dinner, Geerken. I probably would be skewered. (In more ways than one.)

I’m glad I never went on a safari. I hate the thought of eating grubs and mealy worms for supper. (Fried or sautéed)

I tried to visualize how this might taste by eating spaghetti and playing “pretend.” I got half-way through a swallow when my gulp down met the spaghetti coming up. It was a spectacular collision that included blow-back through my nose.

The other thing I hate about a safari involves things great or small. The infamous tse-tse fly doesn’t thrill me at all. One bite and it’s nighty-night time.

This might not be so bad because a good night’s sleep is supposed to “cleanse the brain.” I know this is true because I wake with a clean slate every morning or as Diane refers to it, “No brain, no pain.”

Also there are snakes in Africa that are not nice. Plus there are few flush toilets and lots of outhouses. It would just be my luck to sit down and be bit by an asp.

The other half of the great and small involves elephant “scat.” (Don’t panic, poop by any other name is still poop.)

Elephants are big and it just stands to reason that everything else would be proportional. As a kid, whenever my father took me for a walk, invariably he would say “Make sure you do not step in that, Henry.” Now that clump of dog doo could be across the street, but I would find some way to step in it.

I asked Diane if we were on a safari in Africa and I by pure chance fell into a pile of elephant “doo” and was on the verge of drowning, would she save me? She looked at me and asked “Does elephant poop stink?” I said “I think so.” She said, “I’d let you down.”

I’m glad I never had to live in an igloo. Ice-cold weather and I don’t mix well, except when it is the bottom of a glass.

Anyplace that would congeal oil in the oil-pan of a truck could congeal blood in my veins. I have enough circulatory problems without adding to it.

How would you ever make love in an igloo? Think about it! Eskimos — they are happy to rub noses for six months. Rubbing noses just doesn’t cut it for me, and an ice cube mattress just adds fuel to no fire.

I’m glad I never went up in a hot air balloon. I can just picture me trying to set a new world’s record for a balloon crossing the Atlantic when half-way through the trip I ask “what’s that hissing noise?”

I am glad that I never had to live in a world without chocolate. Like the medical folk in “Harry Potter,” chocolate cures everything.

Warm chocolate chip cookies with a glass of milk naturally are the elixir of life.

As a kid, I loved Easter, because that meant a chocolate bunny was somewhere in the house. It was so easy to find — just follow your nose.

Chocolate and I go way back. This close association includes the fact that I drool uncontrollably when we drive by the “Hershey” sign on our way down to Myrtle Beach each fall.

I’m glad I didn’t become a piano player in a house of ill repute. When I was about 14, this was a secret desire of mine. I’m glad it never happened. With my luck all the women would just have become nuns and the piano was never tuned. It doesn’t matter; I can’t play piano anyhow.

As time goes by, I thought I had seen everything, until I saw an ad for chocolate-scented stationary paper made out of recycled elephant poop.


Henry Geerken is a three-time NYSUT award-winner writing humorous articles addressing retiree and senior citizen concerns. Geerken also writes for Sail-World, World Cruising Newsletter, regarding his many humorous sailing episodes through the years. He can be reached by email at ‘Senior Scene’ columns can be found at