As I get along in years, I often hear the last line of this clever short story, and delight in the full story. I believe this piece reflects how Samuel Clemens believed we should live in old age, if we’re fortunate enough to get there, and the absurdity of living that long. Although brief, it’s packed with wisdom.
Mark Twain’s, “A Fine Old Man” from Sketches: New and Old
John Wagner, the oldest man in Buffalo – one hundred and four years old – recently walked a mile and a half in two weeks.
He is as cheerful and bright as any of these other old men that charge around so persistently and tiresomely in the newspapers, and in every way as remarkable.
Last November he walked five blocks in a rainstorm, without any shelter but an umbrella, and cast his vote for Grant, remarking that he had voted for forty-seven presidents – which was a lie.
His “second crop” of rich brown hair arrived from New York yesterday, and he has a new set of teeth coming – from Philadelphia.
He is to be married next week to a girl one hundred and two years old, who still takes in washing.
They have been engaged eighty years, but their parents persistently refused their consent until three days ago.
John Wagner is two years older than the Rhode Island veteran, and yet has never tasted a drop of liquor in his life – unless – unless you count whisky.