Tomorrow! New podcast episode featuring a fab flip up from poet H.E. Fisher and comedian Ellie Dvorkin from the second half of our “aMuse” show. Subscribe on iTunes, AudioBoom, or right here!

H.E. Fisher and Ellie Dvorkin

First, read this personal essay from (wow) 2007, which how our own Kelly Jean Fitzsimmons first met author H.E. Fisher! We are all in on:


I had my annual checkup. Every year, the experience gets increasingly arcane. I’m like an old car: the more miles, the more servicing. I have parts I never knew existed and none of which can be ordered from the manufacturer to be replaced. It becomes a game of maintenance. From a medical perspective, middle age seems to be all about getting into the best shape possible in order to reach the inevitable in one piece. In other words, my job is to stay healthy until I croak.

To achieve this goal, I was told to lose weight, cut my bad cholesterol in half, and lower my blood pressure. The physician handed me a list of foods to stay away from. It included every food that was white, or had salt, sugar, or fat.

Here’s what remained:

  1. Broccoli.
  2. Romaine lettuce.

A few years back I read a fashionable book that was written to help people lower their cholesterol. The author suggested that readers reduce their intake of carrots. Has anyone in the history of cardio infarction ever had the notation in their medical records: CAUSE: CARROTS? Are there people out there blaming their ample midsections on these lovely orange vegetables?

In any case, I did what the doctor said. I don’t eat cheese or red meat anymore. I’ve switched to whole wheat pasta and rice. I try to stay away from carrots. I limit my sweets. I drink decaf with fat-free milk, and green tea. I exercise. And I smile. A lot. Not because I’m so proud of myself for taking care of my body. I am proud. But that’s not what’s behind this ample grin. It’s that I have a plan. A plan that is called Gluttony at 80.

My plan is simple. Stick to a healthy lifestyle – eat well, exercise, meditate, watch Oprah, take my meds. And then, when I turn 80, blow it all to hell.

First up: cheesecake. One from Juniors of Brooklyn, the other from Venieros in the East Village. Next, pastrami on rye with mustard. The real stuff, nothing derived from a turkey. Whatever vein-clogging part of whatever animal it’s made from, that’s what I’m eating. So long as it’s greasy and smoked.

Bread is on the list. Any kind and a lot. With butter.

Anything vegan is out of the question.

Just to make sure I really enjoy myself, I’m going to put myself in the position of having the munchies. Therefore, I will also re-introduce non-prescription drugs into my aged life. I figure I might as well make it a lot of drugs. I haven’t quite worked out how I’m getting them, but my hope is that I will have college-age grandchildren or even greatgrandchild upon whom I can call to hook Granny up with some good shit.

Now, because I want to eat anything when I turn 80, but will simultaneously desire to retain my slender and fabulously toned physique, I will resume smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. Maybe two. And this time, I’m going for broke. Marlboros. Nothing with reduced nicotine. I will be the de facto poster child for mid-century cigarette campaigns. The Marlboro Nana. My wrinkled face shall grace billboards and magazines all across the country with the words GRANDMA SAYS, “SMOKE!”

The suburbs aren’t conducive to high-end, top-shelf enjoyable gluttony. They’re too judgmental. This plan does not include lectures or sideways looks. Therefore, I am going to have to move back to Manhattan. A nice doorman building on the East Side so that there will always be someone there to help me carry up the groceries and recreational contraband.

Gluttony at 80 will allow me to take certain liberties. My email will be set to a vacation response saying, “I am out and won’t be returning.” I will advise my accountant to roll my retirement savings into fast food conglomerate investments. I will commission a glassblower to create a lead crystal bong with a platinum bowl. I will host a soiree at a gallery space with a single piece of art: a 65 inch flat panel LCD HDTV featuring a continuous loop of one of those insurance commercials in which a geriatric white couple wearing matching velveteen jogging suits power stroll along a sun-dappled wooded path in a perfectly manicured public park, just to hear my guests comment, “How ironic.” At the end of the evening, I will hand out goody bags filled with food made from processed sugar as well as gift certificates from reliable head shops in New Paltz.

Good health requires hard work and dedication, and alas, relinquishing a certain number of temptations. It seems to me that by 80 we all have earned the right to reclaim at least a few of the things that float our boat. Octogenarians should be able to say, “I’m with the band,” and be handed an all-access-pass to life’s pleasures. Until then, I’ll watch my weight, eat well and exercise, always with a smile on my face.