Tuesday, April 16, 2013


   I once was a caregiver for a very old woman, visiting her daily to help tend her basic needs. On my first visit with her, after a conversation where we'd been discussing the latest news, she said: "Well, I learned something new; I won't die today!"
            While helping her bathe, I'd informed her that it was too bad she wasn't born a giraffe, because they can use their 21-inch tongues to clean their own ears. Animal kingdom trivia that I’d picked up on Facebook, but a fun fact all the same, and enough to reaffirm her belief, she told me, that any day we laugh and learn, we live.
I added this to my holistic plan to help her maintain optimum health, and made it a point on subsequent visits to give her the skinny on something new and entertaining and with all the fun I could muster. We called it our “New Day” moment, and it became part of our routine.
"Marie, did you know that moths have no stomachs?"
            "Why, no!  Hooray!  Another day!"
            Or, responding in kind, she’d ask me: “Did you know that my father was a bootlegger?” 
            “No, I didn’t! Ah! Another day for me!”
            Now, your average scientist might say there’s no proof that a new tidbit of information administered daily, however tidbitty it might be, will insure longevity or guarantee another day on earth, but your average scientist is also responsible for fake hair-in-a-can and bacon-flavored dental floss, so I might be the more credible source here, and I do like thinking that I helped Marie make it past the century mark with good humor.
            Facebook is my favorite method of finding that new life-extending fun fact of the day. Yes, I confess to frequenting this online social network, communicating with “friends” I’ve never met, and sharing stories that might otherwise have gone on untold and unheard.
            Today, I learned in a post from friend Kenneth that goats in Morocco climb trees. Presto. Another day well-earned, and Marie would’ve loved that one.
            As the timeline of Facebook newsbits from my contacts scrolls by, I always look for the juiciest offerings: something I can use to impress the postmistress later that day and put me in solid with another secured 24 hours. 
            “Say, have you seen the tree-climbing goats of Morocco?” I’ll ask, handing her the slip for a package delivery.
            Obviously impressed with this, she’ll hand me my bundle and respond: “Sign here.” Poobah. Little does she know that I just gave her sunrise insurance. You’re welcome.
            I don’t hold with those who say that Facebook is the home of the humdrum --- another sign of these times of detachment and lazy embellishment of the real. Without it, today I wouldn’t have learned about gravity-defying goats in Northwestern Africa and stopped worrying about tomorrow.
            Let’s learn and live what’s happening right now:
            My friend Carole wished us all a good night, sending along big parenthetical virtual (((Hugs))) and promising to see us all in the morning. She must’ve seen the climbing goat article, too.
            Friend Chris has just posted a clip of a song that is driving her crazy because she just can’t get it out of her head. I’ve now learned that I can’t, either.
            Friend Heather wants to know why she’d ever consider getting a dog, when she has a cat who thinks it’s a dog, and posts a picture proving it. Not exactly a fact worthy of granting me another day, but I’ll put it in the bonus column of new minutiae as a backup.
            Friend Marcie has just announced that elephants are the only animals that can’t jump. This has unleashed a flurry of debate, with like-minded friends citing non-jumping hippos and rhinoceroses and sloths.
           Friend Barry informs us that due to his hard work through last fall and winter, he now has enough firewood to last all summer.
            Friend Alesa has posted a sign proclaiming: “If the food you eat can go bad, it’s good for you.  If it can’t go bad, it’s bad for you.”
            Friend Jackie reminds everyone that “It doesn’t matter how big and tough you are.  When a two-year old child hands you a toy phone, you answer it.”
            Recently, my seven-year old grandson Myles beat me at chess. Really, he did, even when his kind heart offered to let me cheat: “If you want to move your rook, I’ll look away and pretend I didn’t see it.”
            Now, on his grandmother’s Facebook page, I’ve just learned that yesterday he beat her at bowling.
            That new knowledge alone will see me through the rest of this day, but this morning I still wish that we had tongues long enough to clean our ears.
            You should be fine and live well until tomorrow, however, now knowing which animals do.
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Senior Wire News Service syndicated humor columnist B. Elwin Sherman writes from Bethlehem, NH.  Copyright 2013, all rights reserved.  Used here with permission.
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Gayle Carline said...

Wonderful post. It reminds me of something I heard Willard Scott say. "When you're green, you're growing, and if you think you're ripe, you're rotten." I try to stay green and growing.

P.S. I've always been a little suspicious of the "only animal that can't jump" factoid. Maybe they just don't want to jump.


Thanks, Gayle: Agreed. Funny, but there's an article just this morning about an elephant who crushed a tourist's car (and partially-crushed the tourist).


The car looks like there must've been, if not an outright pachyderm pounce, at least a bit of a hop in there.

Thanks for the comment!