How to live forever—a primer

When my husband announced that we were part of the new Chicago Wellness program, I grumbled. After all, this city-wide initiative would require me to skip breakfast the morning of my scheduled blood draw. Instead of diving head-first into a jar of Nutella, I would be hungry, grumpy, and several milliliters shy of my normal blood supply. I like my blood. We’re kind of attached.

My staunch opposition wavered as my husband, Joe, explained the $50 monthly charge that would be applied to all rebel forces unwilling to shed their blood in the name of medical testing and actuarial science. I thought about putting together an insurgent group to fight the evil empire and destroy the mighty Death Star, but then my husband reined me in with reminders about “reality”and not listening to “the voices”again.

Still, my inner conspiracy theorist remained. What if my avowed enemies (the fashion people who keep adding Spandex to jeans) got ahold of my now-public blood? They could plant it at crime scenes. I would be framed for some heinous act simply to keep pear-shaped women believing that Spandex jeans are actually their friend.

But then I considered that $50 again. That’s 12 jars of Nutella.

I scheduled my blood draw while my son Joey was in preschool.

The nurse was very nice with her clipboard and paperwork. She took my blood pressure, stuck me with a needle, and asked for my height and weight. I didn’t even lie, mostly because I didn’t trust her not to actually throw me on a scale if I tried to get away with 135 pounds. I left feeling good that I had done my part to give the city an accurate representation of Nutella-eating Chicago mothers who indulge in a little Mike’s Hard Lemonade now and then.

I forgot about the whole thing until I received my official wellness report a few weeks later. Every participant is assigned a number (0-100). A zero means you are in perfect health and you’ve probably eaten nothing but twigs and berries since you were 2. A score of 100 is a sign to get your affairs in order and quickly bid farewell to loved ones.

I flipped through my various readings: low blood pressure, low cholesterol, low glucose, low triglycerides. And then I saw my health score: -20. That’s NEGATIVE 20.

I’m practically immortal.

My listed wellness “goal”for the next screening is to stay between 0 and negative 20. From what I can decipher, the city of Chicago has just green-lighted my highly suspect diet and exercise regimen. For those looking to improve on their own numbers, here is a little insight into what comprises a score of negative 20:

Breakfast: ½ jar of Nutella or one large bowl of Cocoa Puffs

Snack: Pot of coffee with the new Bailey’s flavored creamer

Lunch: Leftover Little Caesar’s Pizza from last month (unheated)

Snack: Can of Red Bull

Dinner: Whatever is left on the kids’ plates when they are finished (nuggets, Macaroni& Cheese, hot dogs) with one Mike’s Hard Lemonade (cold)

Snack: Count Chocula treats

Exercise: Weekly tennis lessons spent mostly retrieving errant balls and talking to moms about where milk is on sale

Fruits/Vegetables: Strongly discouraged

If the Chicago Wellness people want to contact me for speaking engagements and diet-planning expertise, I am available. I’m also thinking a book deal might be in the works along with a multi-year spokeswoman gig for Nutella. I could be the new Jared.

Seriously, this whole thing does make me appreciate the role of genetics in overall health. I have two living grandmothers in their 90s. Every time I remind my husband of the longevity of the women in my family, he looks nervous. There will be no reprieve from me or my many voices.

Yet if I drop dead suddenly, please inform the cops to take a good, hard look at the Spandex manufacturers of America.

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