From chopsticks to cemeteries to living wills

By October 21, 2011

“What are you doing with the chopsticks?” my wife asked.

“Improvising,” I said. “How else do I stir the sugar I’m putting into my cup of hot tea?”

Is it just me or does anyone else question why oriental restaurants don’t include spoons with their table settings? Oh yeah, they’ll give you a fork, a napkin and a pair of chopsticks, but never a spoon.

During a recent lunch date with my wife and youngest daughter our conversation touched on several topics besides chopsticks.

“What did you like most about our trip?” my daughter asked.

She was referring to our recent mini vacation to Hollywood last month. Our drive to Southern California included my father who was visiting from Florida.

We compared our footprints with the legends at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, took a celebrity homes tour, and did some casual shopping. The truth is, while my wife and daughter shopped one morning, my dad and I visited the Hollywood-Forever Cemetery.

Like any other normal human male species, we’d prefer visiting dead people than poke our heads through dress racks or waiting outside women’s resale stores.

“I really liked walking through Hollywood-Forever” I answered. “It was a real thrill seeing the gravesites of such famous people as Fay Wray, Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Rudolf Valentino.”

“Who was Rudolf Valentino?” My daughter asked.

“He was film star long before your time or mine.” I replied.

I went on to explain that Valentino appeared in 37 films before his death in 1926 at age 31. The official ruling was blood poisoning caused from a perforated ulcer. Some say it was drugs.

According to the autobiography of Palo Negri, one of his romantic starlet trysts, Valentino was taking a drug (likely illegal) to combat his receding hairline.

“Have you considered a living will?” My wife asked.

I’m not sure if this question was prompted by an earlier discussion about my 96-year-old grandmother, Valentino’s premature death or receipt of my annual Social Security benefits letter.

She obviously found my benefits statement. You know, the one Uncle Sam mails out annually, forecasting your retirement benefits. She’s seen my statement, I thought. And realizes I’m worth more dead than alive.

“Decide how you’d like your living will to read before I return from the restroom,” she pronounced, leaving my daughter and I left to ponder the meaning of life.

“Could it be your mother knows something about my health that I don’t?” I asked my daughter. “I’ve complained about some back pain recently but didn’t think it was life threatening.

“If anything happens to me I want you to do whatever it takes to keep me alive. If you suspect a heart attack, use the jumper cables in the trunk of the car — just keep me going,” I advised her.

“If you can’t find those, forget mouth to mouth,” I continued. “Climb on top of this table, leap into the air and land directly on top of my chest. This might provide the jolt I need.”

My daughter looked at me perplexed and said, “Why do you really think mom wants you to consider a living will? Where did that question come from?”

“I don’t know,” I replied. “Maybe she ate one too many egg rolls.”

Returning to the table, my wife asked what my decision would be in the event some untold tragedy occurred requiring a life or death decision.

I pointed to our daughter and told her she would arrange everything.

“That’s a lot of pressure to put on the shoulders of a 20-year-old,” she told me. “You really should write your instructions down.”

Making our way to the car after lunch, I pulled my keys out, walked to the rear of the vehicle and opened the trunk.

“What were you looking for?” My wife asked when I climbed in behind the wheel.

“Just checking to see if we have any jumper cables,” I said, smiling at my daughter sitting in the back seat.

“Way to go Rudy,” she whispered back to me.

Richard Esposito is the publisher of Village Life. Contact him at [email protected].


Richard Esposito


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