It was a beautiful day in Chicago. I was listening to the birds singing while I was having my lunch on my favorite park bench.
An attractive couple sat down next to me. They obviously had been crying because they were both wiping their red eyes with a tissue.
“What’s the matter?” I said, compassionately.
“It’s cruel, what’s happening,” said the woman.
“What’s happening?” I said, thinking about all kinds of disasters.
They both finally turned towards me and stared.
“Look darling, it is an old person, an ancient!” the woman screamed.
Was she talking about me?
“Hey you, you’ve frightened my wife. I thought you old people were all invisible!” the man said, glaring at me.
“I’m sorry, can I be of any assistance?”
“No, there’s nothing you can do. My wife and I are both turning 40 this year.”
“But, we all go through it. I once turned 40. It’s funny how time slips away.”
“I don’t believe, YOU, once turned 40,” said the woman.
“I did, I kid you not.”
“People like you have always looked old to me.”
The man looked at me, sadly.
“You say it actually happened to you? Turning 40?”
“Absolutely. It happened about a year after I turned 39.”
“Tell me, what’s it like? How did you feel?”
“I don’t really remember.”
“Oh, it was so painful, you wiped it out of your memory.”
“No, it just passed.”
“How could you forget something that traumatic?”
“Easy, people turn 40-50-60 and beyond very quietly.”
“Are you telling us this has been going on for a long time?”
“Yes, for centuries, I believe.”
The woman stared at me in disbelief.
“Then why hasn’t anything been done about it? How come the ‘powers that be” let it happen?”
“There isn’t anything that can be done, except finding the mythical “Fountain of Youth.”
“No! Stop! You’re depressing me,” the woman shrieked.
“You’re born, then the birthdays start passing, you might make it to 80 or so and then KAPUT!”
“What do you mean, KAPUT?”
“I mean KAPUT, broken, finished, all over.”
The man looked shocked. “You mean actually dying? Like in the movies, but for real?”
“How can a person make plans?” The woman said.
They both went silent and then the man grinned.
“You’re trying to scare us. You’re a real joker. It’s a joke, right?”
“I’m afraid not, but you have a lot of time left.”
“Then we can make vacation plans?”
“Yes, go ahead.”
Having made them happy, I got up and left.
As I was walking away, I heard him say: “I still think he’s a joker.”
She said: “Who?”