Joe Pisani: Bonus secrets on how to become a super-geezer

Donna Grethen illustration for metrosexuality column
Donna Grethen illustration for metrosexuality columnDonna Grethen / Tribune

When I reached the supermarket checkout, I began looking for a last-minute something-or-other to toss in my shopping cart. Mentos? Slim Jims? “Soap Opera Digest”? “The National Enquirer” expose on Meghan and Harry?

I miss the glory days of supermarket tabloid journalism when the “Weekly World News” enticed us with headlines like “Aliens Elected to Congress!” and “Is JLo Dating Bat Boy?” and “Elvis Spotted at McDonald’s with Hillary (Bill enraged).” Sadly, that legendary newspaper folded. Where’s old-fashioned investigative reporting when we need it?

Then, I spied a special edition of “Time” titled, “The Science of Living Longer.” I couldn’t resist. “Time” is almost as good as “Star” magazine.

Every geezer I know, and even geezers in training, love reading about secrets to a long, prosperous, healthy life. I have my own library of longevity with titles such as “Live Longer,” “Healthy Aging” and “50 Secrets of the World’s Longest Living People.”

I recently bought my wife “Younger Next Year,” which explains how to “live strong, feel fit and be sexy until you’re 80 and beyond.” (She won’t read it until she’s 90.)

As a special bonus, I’ll share a few secrets with loyal readers: Snack on apricots and almonds, do deep breathing, put yogurt in fruit smoothies, get a pet, and eat lots of salad. As an extra-special bonus: You can add years by walking 250 steps for every hour you’re sitting ... but don’t walk into heavy traffic. One last tip: Research shows if you laugh up to 15 times a day, you’ll add eight years to your life. No fooling.

Ever since I turned 50, I’ve been interested in longevity. All of us want to think we have another 50 years to enjoy retirement, even though it means eking out an existence here in Connecticut, which has the second highest tax rate in the nation.

Baby boomers want to live longer, but the last thing Millennials want is for Baby Boomers to hang around. And I’ll bet my Social Security check the Zoomer generation doesn’t want us to linger either, since they’ll be paying our Social Security.

The good news is more geezers are becoming super geezers. Last year, there were 90,000 centenarians in the United States, and in 40 years there will be 603,000. Demographers say 100 is the new 80.

My father-in-law — may he rest in peace — always told me, “The first 100 years are the hardest.” He knew what he was talking about because he reached 90 despite the cigars, homemade vino and red meat. Or maybe because of them. His mother lived to 99, probably because she didn’t smoke cigars.

I recently read a story about a 105-year-old Indian track-and-field athlete, Man Kaur, who holds quite a few world records. She started running at 93 and lives on a diet of nuts, lentils, soy milk, kefir and wheatgrass juice.

When centenarians are asked their secret to a long life, they often give an outlandish explanation like a shot of Jack Daniels for breakfast, a stogie at bedtime, an icy dip in Arctic waters, and regular, or maybe irregular, sex. But let’s not go there.

To get the truth, I called up an old, really old, friend — Father Philip Brady, who is the retired pastor of St. Margaret Mary Parish in Shelton. He’s turning 103 this year. I’m sure he doesn’t drink wheatgrass schnapps, so I figured his secret to long life had to be prayer.

“What’s your secret?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” he said. “My father died at 60, my mother at 54, and yet here I am ... approaching 103.”

“Well, what about prayer?”

“It always helps.”

I guess it wasn’t in the family genes. Some of us have lousy genes, so no matter how much Jack Daniels and wheatgrass juice we drink, we’re not going to reach 100.

The best advice I’ve heard is from a 15th century monk named Thomas a’ Kempis, who lived to 91.

“Your time here is short, very short, so take another look at the way you spend it,” he said. “What’s the use of having a long life if there’s so little improvement? Every morning, imagine you won’t last till evening, and when night comes, don’t promise yourself a new day.”

Try to be a better person tomorrow than you were today. That’s the best reason to keep on living.

Joe Pisani can be reached at