On Health:

To Grandma Ethel, the world was a very hostile place that conspired to break our bones, give us colds, and end life early and abruptly. My poor mother, Grandma’s only child, was forbidden to do anything risky, like ride a bicycle, swim, or roller skate.

I got off easy. As Grandma’s grandchild I only got warnings. For example, every time it rained, Grandma would call and tell me, “Don’t go out in the rain without your galoshes or you’ll catch pneumonia and die.” I may have been a budding pessimist, but I wasn’t ready to die, so I followed her instructions religiously. That was three decades ago; I haven’t worn galoshes since. Still, whenever I go out in the rain, I feel like I’m tempting the gods, especially because I can hear this little voice with a heavy Polish accent whispering, “People still die from pneumonia. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

"Early to rise and early to bed
Makes a male healthy, wealthy and dead."
—James Thurber (1894-1961)

"Doctors are men who prescribe medicines of which they know little, to cure diseases of which they know less, in human beings of whom they know nothing."
—Voltaire (1694-1778)

"The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don’t want, drink what you don’t like, and do what you’d rather not."
—Mark Twain (1835-1910)

"The cardiologist’s diet: If it tastes good, spit it out."
—Paulina Borsook

"After my dad’s heart attack he stopped smoking, cut back on drinking, and avoided eating fun food. When I told him, “Isn’t it nice that you’ll live longer?” he told me in a really disgusted voice, “You don’t really live longer. It just seems like it."
—Nina Puglia

Return to the Table of Contents.