One of the many responsibilities I have as Keeper of the Olds is making sure that they are still healthy and in [mostly] working order. And, in spite of the fact that they treat their livers like amusement parks and eat according to the four food groups of caffeine, sugar, red meat, and cheese, they are both in better health than they have any right to be at their age.
Since I live with them, I am well aware of my limitations. I no longer try to keep up with them in most ways. For example, I know that I cannot drink their coffee, for I have a human heart that will stop working with that amount of caffeine flowing through it. They are both proud that they stopped putting cream in their coffee years ago, but since I believe they could put heavy whipping cream in what they call coffee and still only turn it a dark, murky brown, I give them no health benefits for this.
I also do not eat the same diet as they do much of the time, because I eat very little red meat, which they believe should be eaten at least once a day. I also refuse to eat what I define as “cute” meat. This includes lamb and veal. The Olds, on the other hand, often drive past fields of darling baby animals in the springtime and remark on how delicious they look. Perhaps if I could drink more than a tablespoon of Irish whiskey at a time, I too might be numb and dead enough inside to feel absolutely no empathy for God’s most adorable, fluffy creatures.
Since they are from rural Ohio and had me when they were about 14 years old, the Olds are not actually that much older than me. My sister, though, was born when they were around 35, and she cannot keep up with them either. The Olds like to visit her, because she lives in Chicago and has an excellent wine shop around the corner from her house. Usually, about 36 hours into their visit, I will receive a phone call or a text from my sister, explaining that she is lying on her bed unable to move and believes that she may be dying. Her head is pounding, her stomach is a sea of discontent, and in general she feels as though she has just been on a three day bender with Henry VIII. This is because she tries to keep up with the Olds’s vacation schedule when they visit, which is even more shocking than their regular schedule. It goes something like this:
1. Wake up. Drink nine cups of coffee so as to achieve same effect as one cup of their homemade brew
2. Go in search of breakfast. In Chicago, this usually means doughnuts from Glazed and Infused. Go look at their website. I will wait here for you.
[Did you see those things? They are unholy, unless your religion is doughnut worship, in which case, they are a collection of gods made of sugar and fat]
3. Talk about where to have lunch.
4. Look up menus of lunch possibilities on the internet
5. Go to lunch.
6. Possibly, do some sight seeing or shopping. Meaning, they usually end up at the wine store buying all of the French wine they cannot get at home.
7. This is exhausting, so they either go back to hotel or my sister’s home and nap for two hours.
8. Wake up, realize is 4pm, meaning is 5pm in Indiana and therefore they may start drinking
9. Start drinking cocktails
10. Get ready for dinner
11. Go out to dinner, usually at excellent and often quite expensive place. Have enormous dinner with proper wines and post dinner brandy, port, or Irish whiskey.
12. Olds: return happily to hotel. Sleep the sleep of the innocent for a full nine hours.
13. Sister: stumbles home and tries to stay alive
14. Next morning: Olds bright eyed, bushy-tailed, and confused as to why sister and her husband are moving slowly and avoiding loud noises. Ask them loudly how they are feeling seven or eight times.
15. Repeat. For three or four days.
Then, they return home and say that they are worried that my sister is coming down with something due to her lack of energy and general greenish coloring.
It is at that point that I have to remind them that not everyone approaches life as though it takes place at a medieval feast with 15 courses and gallons of ale. They cannot understand why that is, and I suppose that is why they are in general, pretty upbeat. Either that, or they no longer have enough brain cells left to switch between different emotional states.
Because of their tendency to excess, I often worry about their cardiovascular health. That is why I like to do random spot checks on their hearts and their reflexes. I often have to change up my techniques to keep them on their toes, but generally, I conduct my spot checks as follows:
I wait until they have retired for the evening. Then I make sure they are finished getting up and down to get a drink of water, going to the bathroom, finding their teeth, taking their nightly meds, and all their other pre-sleep Olden activities. I can tell when they’re finally settled in because one of them starts to snore intermittently and the other one reads, passive aggressively turning pages with as much crinkling and rustling as possible because he’s trying to wake the other one up enough to stop her snoring. Once the rustling and crinkling dies down and the snore subsides to a steady buzz, I know that one of them is sound asleep, and the other one is engrossed in his book and starting to relax into a drowsy haze.
Then, what I like to do is creep up the stairs to their open door, stick my hands into their room, and CLAP as loudly as two hands can CLAP. Sometimes I also yell or whoop very loudly. It depends on how in-depth of a spot check I’m doing.
What is good about this method is that it enables me to check on their heart health, because one of them used to have atrial fibrillation. Usually, there is no episode of that, which is good.
It also allows me to see if their reflexes are still fast enough for them to be allowed to drive, because usually one or both of them scream and fling all four limbs into the air in terror. Also, it proves that their hearing is still functional. All of which I remind them, before running for cover, which I have to do very,very fast since they also still have pretty good aim.
And they read very heavy books.