Can you Cheat the ‘Cheat Death’ Scale?

On the last page of the June 22 issue of Newsweek Magazine under ‘Back Story’ there is an interesting collection of statistics presented under the title, “Can You Cheat Death?” It rates life style choices and other factors’ influence on your ‘life expectancy’ on a scale of +10 to -15 years. For example, the very first entry states that if “You have a blood relative who has lived to be 95 or older” – well – Good Job! – because that’s worth an automatic ‘+10′ – ten years added to your probable life expectancy. My husband achieves that one. His mother is 96 and still kills at Scrabble, which, by the way, makes her a living testament to the second entry: “You regularly play puzzles like Scrabble or Sudoku.”: +5 years. Does that mean she’s going to live to 101?

Continuing with this “Cheat Death’ scale, here’s the third entry: “You’re a married man”: +5 years. Wow! Hey guys, marriage adds five years to your life expectancy! – a fine, deserving testament to all the good, hard-working women of this world! I mentioned this encouraging note to my husband, lauding the praises of my presence in his life. His reply: “Yeah, well, life just seems longer when you’re married. It really isn’t.” What a killjoy he is.

Well anyway, here we go, further down the scale: “You’re a married woman.”: +0 years. What? A big ‘Zero!’ – ‘Nada!’ – ‘Zilcho!’ increase in life expectancy if you’re a married woman? I’m assuming they mean heterosexual marriage here. That statistic is surprising, given, by itself, the increased amount of exercise a married woman can get just cleaning up after the average man. There actually is nothing on this chart about exercise. Probably because too much exercise can kill you, or drive you to an early death, or even make you want to die just to get out of exercising. But in any case, ‘marriage’ wasn’t defined in this chart, either. What if you are a woman, say, living in Massachusetts or somewhere, married to another woman – what with women being so good and so pro-life-extending, your union could likely increase your life expectancy by ten years. Two grown, good, hard-working women united in marriage, managing the household … Yeah!

One explanation as to why a woman married to a man gains ZERO extra time in regards to life expectancy might be because the average man is completely untrainable when it comes to doing laundry. Even if he does mean well. Take my husband, for instance. He knows full well how I want the laundry done since I have spared no opportunities to instruct him – like every time a dark purple stain ends up plastered to the front of my white t-shirt or white lint gets plastered all over my favorite black cotton-ribbed sweater. “SORT THE LAUNDRY! – Darks with darks, mediums with mediums, whites with lights, leave the DELICATES! and WASH TOWELS SEPARATELY!” I tell him all this in the nicest tone I can muster (deep breathing helps) ABOUT 300 TIMES, I bet, in our 28 years of marriage.

Left alone in the laundry room without supervision, however, and my husband’s infinite wisdom trumps my instructions. His mission: “Make the dirty clothes disappear.” You see, he doesn’t like ‘clutter’ and by scooping the whole pile up and tossing it into the washer he does make the clutter in the laundry basket disappear. What’s the point of loading up the washer with ‘whites,’ leaving five dark, smelly, dirty socks (there’s always an odd number) lurking in the laundry basket to assault your senses as you enter the house through the back door? Ugggh! So yeah, the laundry room looks great when I get home. “Thanks honey, now would you please make the clean clothes disappear so I don’t have to see the ruined whites or my black knee socks, now afflicted with a seemingly serious case of impregnated nits or some such foul thing contracted from the WHITE TOWELS!”

Also, our washer and dryer sit in front of double windows overlooking our back deck. My pet peeve is – I don’t like stuff placed on interior window sills – clutter! – on display in full view to the outside world. For example, ME, TRYING to relax in my chair on the deck, while looking through the laundry room window at the box of laundry soap and squirt bottle of ‘Shout,’ sitting there all cockeyed on the interior sill. I don’t like STUFF on window sills, PERIOD. My husband’s pet peeve, HE doesn’t like STUFF sitting on the dryer – like the box of laundry soap and the Shout. HE likes the washer and dryer surfaces clear of everything. So … he props the laundry soap and Shout on the window sill. When I pass through the laundry room and see them there – why of course I snatch them off the window and back onto the dryer – BECAUSE I DON’T LIKE STUFF PROPPED IN THE WINDOW! We have done this at least 500 times since moving into this house 9 years ago. Hey, who’s right here? I think I am!

We should both live five extra years because we regularly play each other at Scrabble. Except, my husband, in his unbridled ruthlessness, kicks my butt nine games out of ten and it makes me sore, losing so much. Stressful! Between that and the laundry debacle I might just lose five years life expectancy – because – to quote the scale: “You frequently feel stressed out”: -5 years.

But then being married to my 98-per-cent-wonderful (except when left unsupervised in the laundry room or playing Scrabble) husband keeps me safe from engaging in unprotected sex with multiple partners – which, according to the scale – if I did engage in unprotected sex with multiple partners then it would knock seven years off my life expectancy.

I guess I won’t start using IV drugs at this juncture of my life, either, since I see that would decrease my life expectancy by 15 years. That would maybe mean that if I started tomorrow I could be dead by the next day, given my age now.

… Unless we continue with Scrabble and my hubby ends up, for some unforeseen reason, taking over completely on the laundry. Then I might end up shooting myself up, dealing with the stress. Well, maybe I should opt, instead, for flossing my teeth non-stop. Because I see from the “Cheat Death” scale that daily flossing increases life expectancy: +2 years. I could make a life style change and start flossing, say, 20 times a day, just for good measure and maybe some extra added years. Cheat the ‘Cheat Death’ scale. I’ll be sure to leave the used floss on the dryer. You know, just for fun. Heck, why not try, at least, to have a little fun while I’m still alive? After all, even when you think the laundry is done, there’s always more dirty clothes.

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6 Responses to “Can you Cheat the ‘Cheat Death’ Scale?”

  1. Ruth Garrison Says:

    Hi Jody,
    You are so creative. I’m sure there are thousands of us out there who could relate with what you write. I laugh out loud reading your entries. I really think you should hold tight of your work and publish it the old ‘book format.’
    Some extra cash wouldn’t hurt.
    I sure miss you here in Augusta.

  2. Miss Karen Says:

    You can play scrabble with me and up your score by kicking MY butt. I’m forgetting words at lightspeed.

  3. joddy123 Says:

    How about we team up and help each other make words with our seven letters. I’ll help you get the ‘X’ on the triple and I’ll get the ‘Q.’ WE’ll both have fabulous scores. This experience should add at least a day to our lifespans.

  4. Miss Karen Says:

    You mean like “XQuuuse Me!?”

    • joddy123 Says:

      Well, since you’re forgetting words at lightspeed I guess I could accept “XQuuuse Me!?” Plus it sounds very polite. But we’d have to split the points for it because with both the X and Q in a single word on triple letters and on a triple word score, trust me, you’d score about 200 points – which would upset me enough to knock one good day, maybe 2, off my lifespan. Plus I’m not sure we’d still be friends.

  5. Random Visitor Says:

    Thanks for posting the date, and the entry. I was googling for the date of the article… Google gave me your entry, the date, and a chance to comment:

    …the reason women don’t get a +5 for being married is because a woman’s life expectancy (with or without marriage) is already +5.2 longer than the man’s… And yes, finding a great wife and sticking with her, can be a sensible man’s single greatest asset in life… especially if they earn two incomes but live on one, and retire way early!

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