Sage Advice for Men


Sage Advice for Men

(Women are encouraged to snoop.)

By Wendell Abern, Photo by Karen Gonzalez

Dear Readers,

         I am writing this column shortly before my 86th birthday.

         And, like you, I have heard the phrase, “Getting old ain’t for sissies,” many times. And of course, bad health can contribute to such a murky outlook.

         But, assuming you’re in relatively good health, just think of how beautiful life can be if you exploit your age!

         For example, I believe that being an octogenarian gives me automatic license to dispense sage advice under the guise of age experience. Great fun. Especially when I don’t know what I’m talking about.

On Eating Properly:

        I intend to send a copy of this column to my internist, Dr. Darby Sider, at the Cleveland Clinic. She is a great doctor, one of the best I’ve ever had. But whenever I talk about my diet, she puts her hands over her ears.   

        As for eating properly, we all make a big deal out of what to eat and what to avoid eating; how much we should weigh; when it’s okay to snack and when it’s not.

          When puzzling over these critically important issues, I implore you to heed a phrase I have come across in several thrillers: Occam’s Razor.

         I have no idea how or why this phrase originated, but Occam’s Razor espouses a philosophy that makes great sense:  When faced with a problem that has several different solutions, the simplest answer is usually the right one.

         Simplicity. The key to almost any question. When considering all of your eating options, I highly recommend you adopt my simple approach: Devour whatever gives you pleasure;

         If you want to weigh less, eat less; if you want to weigh more, eat more; ignore all dieticians; meat at all meals is mandatory; vegetables are unnecessary; eating fish once a year is fine … eating it twice in one year raises eyebrows, but is acceptable. However, if you eat it more times than that, you could be accused of liking fish.

         See? See how smart you can sound when you’re 86 years old?

To men (and all of you snooping women):

         Guys, we spend our lives trying to understand and make peace with women. Forget it. When it comes to male/female relationships, we’re not in the same league as women.

         Flirting. No contest. Women can flirt with a look, a smile, a toss of the head. It’s part of their DNA.

         We, on the other hand, always have our mouths going. Frequently, after saying something dumb, we will then say something that make matters worse. And in case you think you’ve mouthed off stupidly a few times in your life, wait‘ll you get to be 86,

         As self-proclaimed president of NDO, (Nation Dumb Oafs, Inc.). I reprise here an incident I wrote in a previous column.

         About three years ago, I was at a duplicate bridge game (lots of players) and found myself at a table with two female opponents I’d never seen before. The one on my left was quite attractive. Fortyish. Blonde. Nail polish I’d call Streetwalker Scarlet.

         We all chatted for a few moments. Some innocuous nonsense. Then I smiled at my left-hand opponent and said, “By the way, did you know that eighty-three is the new forty-six?”

         She grimaced. Then my right-hand opponent said, “Oh c’mon, Grandpa, Are you really hitting on my partner?”

         I blinked a few times and bumbled, “Uh, well, uh, I – I was kind of hoping she had daddy issues.”

         I did not play very good bridge that day.

         The key to proper flirting: when in doubt, keep your mouth shut.

         Lust. Consider how many times you’ve fallen in lust. Happens all the time, right? It’s okay. It’s natural. Not only that, if you’re over 70 and still experience pangs of lust now and then, you should brag about it.

         Otherwise, lust is very easy to deal with because, if acted upon, it either gets accepted or rejected.

         Love. Falling in love, however, can be dangerous. At any age. If you know for sure the woman feels the same, fine. Blurt out your undying devotion.

         But if you are not sure of her reciprocity, remember: she’s a woman. She already knows, Romeo! She knows all about your feelings and doesn’t want to hear about them.

         Men of all ages should remember Cardinal Rule Number One when it comes to women: when in doubt, keep your mouth shut.

                  On Keeping Fit.

         Personally, I am philosophically opposed to physical exercise. Makes your muscles ache all over. Gives you leg cramps at night. Activates your craving for Twizzlers.

         For those of you scoffing at my laconic lifestyle, I encourage you to consider the advice of Satchel Paige. Yes, that Satchel Paige. The one who became a Hall of Fame pitcher for the Cleveland Indians.

         And who happened to be one of the greatest philosophers of all time.

         Paige published a document called, “Six Rules on Staying Young,” that should be part of the curriculum in any philosophy course at any university in the country. Rule number three: “Avoid running at all times.”

         Absolutely correct. Running is exercise. Avoid it. If for some reason you’re overcome with a need for some kind of exercise, eat a Milky Way instead. Then take a nap.   

For Anyone Over Fifty:  Handling Children and Grandchildren.

         An unavoidable phenomenon occurs at this age: adult offspring assume the role of parent, Suddenly, you’re treated like a teen-ager and hit with admonitions you doled out decades ago:

         “Do you think you should be driving in this rain?”

         “Just take a sweater or jacket with you and stop arguing!”

         “You really shouldn’t have another drink.”

         Occam’s Razor again: Take the simplest route and agree with everything they say; then do what you want.


         In closing, I would like to paraphrase an axiom that appears on a poster in most bridge clubs: “You don’t stop living your life because you get old; you get old because you stop living your life.”

Cantankerously Yours,

Wendell Abern

Wendell can be reached at