A few weeks ago I reached my biblical allotment of three score and ten, which means that I am now, as St. Paul wrote in his second letter to the Corinthians, “playing with house money.”
A friend called to wish me a happy 70th. I thanked him, and since I was now officially old and could therefore ignore all social niceties, I asked, “And how old are you?”
When he answered “81,” I’m afraid I let out a wee gasp. My friend graciously laughed this off.
“Hey,” he said, “age is just a number.”
Eehh, I’m not so sure about that. I’m new to the club, but this seems like the sort of thing that we oldsters train the voice in our heads to say in order to drown out the swooshing sounds of the fast-approaching swings of the reaper’s scythe.
Here are a few more numbers to add to that comforting din.
Being 70 years old means that you have completed 70 laps around the sun. Since each such lap traverses an elliptical path of 584 million miles, a 70-year-old will have traveled 41 billion miles through space, which is still not enough to get you bumped up to first class anymore.
You covered each year’s 584 million miles in, on average, 8766 hours. (The “on average” accounts for leap years.) This means that all this time you’ve been rocketing through space at 66,000 mph, making whatever it is that keeps President Trump’s hair in place all the more remarkable.
You’ve also been spinning around the Earth’s axis, which is a good thing, since otherwise you would have been darting and dipping through little barometric anomalies in the atmosphere like a Hoyt Wilhelm knuckleball, a reference which, if you’re 70, you understand. This would have been terrible for heartburn, which, if you’re 70, you have.
The Earth’s circumference is about 25,000 miles. There are 24 hours in a day. So the Earth’s rotational speed at the equator is a little over 1,000 mph.
(Note: though it has nothing to do with turning 70, the following is offered as a public service aimed at a very specific demographic: basset hound owners living at equatorial latitude.)
Since the Earth is rotating so rapidly where you live, and since your basset’s legs are so stubby, when your dog gallops to the west, by the time his paws come back down after each stride, the Earth will have rotated underneath him farther than the distance covered in that stride, so your dog will actually lose ground. So never—ever!—call to your basset when he is due east of you, otherwise he could run toward you and disappear over the horizon.
Assuming you’re in reasonable shape, your heart pumps at about 70 beats-per-minutes. By your 70th birthday, you will have had about 2.6 billion heartbeats, which will have pumped a total of about 182 million liters of blood through your circulatory system. And if you’re talking about a 70-year-old American’s circulatory system, then make that 48.1 million gallons, goddammit!
Every day a human’s body sheds about a million flakes of skin. By the time you turn 70, then, you will have lost about 25 billion skin cells. So while using the term “little old man” is ageist and could land you in legal jeopardy, calling someone a “littler old man” could not be challenged in court.
The number of times you’ve fallen asleep over the past 70 years exactly equals the number of times you’ve awakened, and what are the odds of that?!
Over those 70 years, baseball’s World Series was contested 69 times. Those who have felt it presumptuous to call it the “World” Series were mollified in 1992 and 1993, when the Toronto Blue Jays emerged victorious in the annual Fall Classic. (When the subject is baseball, one is required to write things like “emerged victorious in the annual Fall Classic.”) Then again, the reason there were 69 instead of 70 World Series is that a players’ strike ended the 1994 season in August, which was karmic payback for a bunch of foreigners winning the last two championships of our national pastime.
You blink about ten times a minute. Assuming eight hours of blinkless sleep a night, by your 70th birthday you will have blinked 245,448,000 times. Assuming your eyelids are a half-inch apart, they will have traveled nearly 2,000 miles. Cut that in half if you’re Clint Eastwood. Double it if you’re Carol Channing.
If it were removed from the body, the average person’s small intestine would be 22 feet long, but then he also would have been unlikely to reach 70, so I guess this is irrelevant.
The average person will have walked about 115,000 miles by age 70, but only if he had covered most of that distance before his small intestine had been removed.
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, a man named Charles Osborne hiccupped non-stop for nearly 70 years, totaling some 430,000,000 hiccups. Charles Osborne must have had a very difficult life. He also must have been a very annoying dinner companion.
I could go on, but my time is precious. That swooshing scythe is getting 86,400,000,000,000 nanoseconds closer each day.