Letter From Milo: Living To Learn

July 16th, 2019

You’d think that someone who had heart surgery a few months ago would know better. You’d think that the person would have learned a lesson. You would suppose that someone who came this close to riding shotgun with the Angel in the Sharkskin Nightgown, would consider changing his wicked ways.

Well, I had open heart surgery recently and the only change in me is that my body has a few more scars to show off at the beach.

Against all common sense, against all medical advice, despite the anguished pleas of my wife and children, Ol’ Milo is at it again. Yes, folks, I’m drinking, eating red meat, sneaking the occasional cigarette, toking on the occasional joint and, once again, enjoying impure thoughts. Yes, sir, the Bum Gene (see one of my earlier posts) is in full roar.

Now, the obvious question is: How fucking stupid does a man have to be to continue a lifestyle that nearly killed him?

The obvious answer is: Very, very fucking stupid.

A short while after coming home from the hospital, my good friend, I’ll call him Bruce Diksas to spare him undue embarrassment, came by to visit. He brought along a few bottles of wine, a joint and a pack of Camels.

“You look pretty good,” Bruce said, uncorking one of the bottles. “Got some color in your face.”

“Yeah, I feel pretty good,” I replied, though I was still sore from the surgery where they had cracked me open like a lobster tail, then sewed me up like a hog being prepped for the barbeque spit. “Should be as good as new in a couple of days,” I added, lying.

“Here, have a drink. You’ll feel even better.”

“Good idea.”

As we sat at the kitchen table talking about the White Sox, the economy, pussy, the criminal incompetence of the Bush Regime, and Bruce’s upcoming trip the Bali, it occurred to me that just a few years ago Bruce had undergone some pretty serious surgery himself. I won’t go into details, but he came through it with his flag waving high.

It also occurred to me that many of our friends are suffering health problems. Granted, most of my friends have lived rather checkered lives, overdoing just about everything there is to overdo. But the undeniable fact is that they are all aging baby boomers, living at the tail end of the great post-war bubble . If our lives were basketball games, we would be entering the fourth quarter. Although there is always the chance of overtime, the sad truth is that you can’t count on it. I’ve had good friends die in their teens, 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s. In one case a good friend died at the biblical age of 101.

They’ve died in all sorts of ways — car accidents, gunshot wounds, explosions, diseases, drug overdoses, jealousy, broken hearts, suicides and poor judgement. The common thread running through all these deaths is that, except for suicide, most people don’t have a say in the time and manner of their passing. It’s a lottery where the main prize is oblivion.

So, I suppose living into your 60s is an accomplishment of sorts. Although it’s a piss poor accomplishment, at best.

As Bruce and I started on the second bottle of wine, toked on the joint and lit up Camels, we smiled at each other, both of us aware of the game clock but happy to still be in the game and able to partake of some of our favorite vices. We clinked glasses and made a toast.

“To your health,” Bruce said.

“And yours, pal.”

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