With a Little Luck You’ll Live Long Enough to Breed Flies in Your Attic

These flies didn't live long. We caught ours with sticky fly paper. Photo by Barbara Newhall

These flies didn’t live long. We caught them with sticky fly paper. The vacuum cleaner works better. Photo by Barbara Newhall

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

Back in 1987 old age seemed a long ways away. Strike that, old age seemed like something that would never happen to me. Here’s a story I wrote in 1987 — thirty years ago — for the Oakland Tribune. The kids were three and six, Jon and I were a lithesome 46, and apparently I didn’t expect to live past 72.

Check it out. It’s kind of a sad story, one about friends who didn’t get their full 72 years. It’s at “A Case of the Human Condition: Death Is the Only Guarantee.”

A Case of the Human Condition: Death is the Only Guarantee

Live Long and To Heck With the Squeegee

Except I did live past 72. And old age still seems a long ways away — even though apparently I’ve definitely arrived at the elder years. Of which, btw, there is a heck of a lot nice to say. With a little luck, at this life stage, most of my age mates have checked some or all of life’s must-do boxes. Marriage — check. Kids — check. Career — check.

And now they’ve got the time and the wherewithal to jet off to Antarctica or Belize. Or  babysit grandbabies three days a week. Or help found a hospital in Uganda. Or write a thriller. Or refurbish school libraries. Take up yoga. Start a publishing house. Make gorgeous paintings.

Yeah, yeah, nothing is perfect, especially during the getting-on years. My husband hasn’t nearly as much hair as he used to. And neither do I.

Our house is aging along with us. The bedroom windows won’t close. That once pristine glass shower door is now hopelessly caked with soap scum and minerals. Nobody bothers to use the squeegee, not even me. And this past week a plague of flies swarmed into the garage from  — where? Through new crack in the ceiling? From a dead rat in the attic?

That said, here I am, solidly into my 70s and well past the point that I once considered to be old, old, old. So old that I would most likely be dead by now.

But, as it turns out, I’m not dead yet. I’m not too old to drive down to the hardware store to buy fly paper and a swatter. And, when those options fail, which, of course, they mostly do, to get out the vacuum cleaner and suck those varmints into oblivion. With a little luck, you too will live long enough to breed flies in your attic.


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