Ten years after 1,003 Great Things About Getting Older was published, one of the elderly authors still lived -- Ann Hodgman. Working solo, she put together her own collection of tidbitty advice for old people that ranged from useless to wrong to the desperate flailings of a senile mind. Of her previous writing team, I'm still not sure who the sex offender or the murderer were, but Ann was definitely one of the stupid ones.
1,003 Ways to Stay Young seems to have been written in a world where pretending to be a baby is the highest form of comedy. How it got to our Earth is unclear, but whatever interdimensional beasts brought it to us are assholes. At least 300 of the suggestions are "jokes" like this:
Every childish behavior Ann could think of makes an appearance in the book. Not eating vegetables, not cleaning your room ... behaving like a baby is apparently a convincing way to show off your youthful vigor. When Ann Hodgman accidentally craps into her diaper, the other people in the assisted living center are like, "Well, la dee da! Look at Miss Teen USA!"
Without the other three writers to help with all 1,003 witticisms, Ann ran out of ideas somewhere in the teens. She started filling space in her manuscript with literally anything. This came from a long, long section where Ann rewrote single lines from nursery rhymes with references to old people and their imminent death. Why? Because this book was written by someone who stopped making fresh brain cells long before irony was invented. Her sense of humor is so old, it died of Spanish flu.
After three pages, the nursery rhymes stopped rhyming. And this would be fine if there were no consequences, but every time Ann Hodgman types, a pediatrician has to explain to a mother that there's no scientific explanation why her baby no longer smiles -- it's simply as if some dark force peeled the joy from it. Ann swings and misses at cute on a supernatural scale. If she tried to tell her grandchildren about a new puppy, her mouth would wordlessly spray diarrhea.
Yes, this is tragic, but you wouldn't be funny either if Death sat in front of you all day, watching you chew. Ann Hodgman's idea of a joke is random letters placed near the word "wrinkles," and her idea of advice is biting shapes into the flesh of the living.
Ann's solo attempt at writing a book is so awful that I kind of miss the rapist.
Ann Hodgman is the reason parents can no longer administer home schooling directly to a child's brain with a hammer.
Ann really rode that train of logic all the way to the end. I wonder if thinking that hard wakes up the raccoons that made a nest in her skull.
At some point every elderly advice author has to deal with the tough issue of whether or not to touch poison ivy. I wonder if this is why convalescent homes have bingo halls and not science labs.
To Ann's credit, if you were a dying dementia patient with only one teaspoon of cerebrospinal fluid left, you wouldn't know how to do medical research either.
Ann is still waiting on some test results, but I think she's onto something. Before this, her only concept of respiratory health was turning her gaping mummy mouth away from incoming locust swarms.
Everyone feels young when there's a clown closing in on them. Plus, after all that birthday cake, a clown attack is a great way to shed a few ax-shaped chunks of pounds.
That doesn't sound right to me, but Ann's the one who stayed awake through her last 22 clinical deaths, so I defer to her judgment.
Wait, what? You have to explain to your readers about touching poison ivy and now you're daring them to skitter into traffic and dodge cars? Is Ann actually some kind of amalgamation of government agencies trying to get out of paying Social Security checks?
Out of 1,003 pieces of advice about staying young, only about four mention sex. This isn't one of them, though. Astroglide is how Ann gave herself a hysterectomy. The moment her reproductive system spotted a lubricated hole, it squeezed itself through and scuttled into the night. Villagers jabbed it with torches for hours before it stopped screaming.
I think an elderly man who tells everyone how much he loves Justin Bieber is what you call "lead suspect," not "youthful." This book should have been called 1,003 Reasons Stupid Dingbats Should Hit Backspace. The editor was worse at his job than the vampire hunters Ann Hodgman keeps defeating.
If you want your reader to feel young, maybe try sentences that aren't made entirely out of words that no longer exist.
You might be right, Ann, but the life cycle of your mouth flies can give us a pretty accurate assessment of when you died.
Despite all the embarrassing ailments of the elderly, it's hard to picture anyone with self-esteem low enough to buy something called Easy Crosswords for Seniors FOR DUMMIES. These crosswords are so simple that the solution section is just a reminder that candy is fun. It respects that the reader was educated before the invention of five-letter words, and if you tear out the pages and use them to line your bird cage, that alone solves over half the clues.
These books for and by the elderly have taught me so much about them. I now know that they suffer from both humorlessness and bladder control problems during sex -- a combination that, to me, seems paradoxical. More than that, it's taught me that no matter how feeble-minded and fluid-squirting we become in our twilight years, we'll always have a job waiting for us in book publishing.
For more of his literature-themed hilarity, try Your Best Friend Robot and the Chamber of Spectacular Death or 5 Baffling Perspectives on Boning.