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Off the cuff: Live long and prosper

Today, The Daily Dose of the Good (and Not So Good) Words will indulge in a little popular culture indulged in this morning and mix it with a quote from Terry Eagleton read last night topped off an anecdote heard this afternoon in the hopes of making some sort of meaning. I will start with the last item on the list, the story told.

So while standing outside chewing the fat with my father, Daddy informs me that Florida is top of the class when it comes to new cases of HIV infection. Daddy painted a vivid picture of red dots representing new cases of HIV infection freckling Florida. We ain’t talking a light sprinkling across the nose of Florida, no Florida is speckled with thousands of freckles of infection. Daddy learned this during a training for work. Why he, a computer hardware man, had to go to this training is unclear but be grateful that he did, because soon you will be in command of a scintillating bit of infotainment to pass on to your friends and loved ones.

What to know where the some of the highest concentrations of new cases of HIV were on the map? You might think Miami or Key West, with the gay male population in mind, and perhaps the rates in those areas are rising. But Daddy thought that the most interesting highly freckled place was The Villages. For those of my faithful followers who do not know the Florida landscape well, The Villages is a series of “communities” planned with the swinging (as in Golf) senior in mind. Well, turns out that golf is not the only hole in one game in town. Unfortunately, these elders are not taking precautions when they score. Rising sexually transmitted infections rates (STI) show that randy seniors are not alone in ignoring or being ignorant of STI risk factors. Daddy said that offers to do workshops in The Villages about STI’s have been turned down. And HIV isn’t the only handicap that might affect their swing. Chlamydia and a super bug strain of gonorrhea also are playing 18 plus hole games.

Tangentially, I doubt anyone is creating abstinence only education with the senior set in mind. I suppose this is because the horse not only is out of the barn, it has been running round the fields for so long that no one would ever in a thousand years buy an elderly born again virgin. Oh, I forgot, abstinence only education is all about the purity (and control) of young women, and no one cares if old bags, I mean broads, I mean women much less their purity.

I am happy to hear anecdotally that seniors are still in the game; that they have stayed the course, so to speak. This bodes well for me though when I am an old woman I will not be playing anything even metaphorically connected to golf. But despite all my humor, I desperately wish they were not being so damn stupid about it. I am sure that most people do not want to spend their golden years taking even more medicines than they already do to keep the specter of AIDS at bay. For these vigorous (and prosperous) seniors- the kind most likely to be following the Prevention magazine check sheets and seldom having to choose between medically necessary procedures or prescriptions because they have enough money and insurance to cover the costs (at least for now)- to not be as well informed about their sexual health strikes me as foolish and regrettable. Making informed choices about one’s sexually health seems to me to be key to a long and healthy life.

Which leads me to the next piece in this muddle of a mess of a Daily Dose, Star Trek. I’m not going to go into much except to say that I left the movie feeling hopeful about humanity in general and my own life in specific. I left feeling that we might find a way to reach for the stars, perhaps not the actual stars in space, but some of those star like dreams of a better world for all, not a perfect world but a world that is a lot closer than we are now. I believed for just a moment that we, that I, might live long and prosper. Now, I am not mistaking that hope for reality, and the anecdote about the The Villagers is a reminder of just how damn far we’d have to go, but I think we need moments of starry eyed hope, which brings me to the quote from Eagleton.

Toward the end of The Meaning of Life, after arguing that “the meaning of life is not a solution to a problem, but a matter of living in a certain way” Eagleton riffs on the image of an improvisational jazz ensemble making music together as a possible model for this certain way of living. He continues:

Is jazz, then, the meaning of life? Not exactly. The goal would be to construct the kind of community on a wider scale, which is a problem of politics. It is, to be sure, a utopian aspiration, but it is none the worse for that. The point of such aspirations is to indicate a direction, however lamentably we are bound to fall short of the goal.

In closing, I offer up this hope that soon you set your sights on the stars, even if it is just for a little while, and that you- my faithful readers, and your family and friends and their friends and family and their family and friends, and on and on- live long and prosper in a improvisational jazz combo sort of a way.

Take care and keep on keeping on.

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