Friday, September 28, 2007

Groucho Marx on the Subject of Age

In a recent excerpt on DelanceysPlace--Groucho Marx writes the opening words to his 1959 autobiography "Groucho and Me," and, as is his wont, instantly digresses into a pique:

"The trouble with writing a book about yourself is that you can't fool around. If you write about someone else, you can stretch the truth from here to Finland. If you write about yourself, the slightest deviation makes you realize instantly that there may be honor among thieves, but you are just a dirty liar."

"Although it is generally known, I think it's about time to announce that I was born at a very early age. Before I had time to regret it, I was four and a half years old. Now that we are on the subject of age, let's skip it. It isn't important how old I am. What is important, however, is whether enough people will buy this book to justify my spending the remnants of my rapidly waning vitality in writing it. "

"Age is not a particularly interesting subject. Anyone can get old. All you have to do is live long enough. It always amuses me when the newspapers run a picture of a man who has finally lived to be a hundred. He's usually a pretty beat-up individual who invariably looks closer to two hundred than the century mark. It isn't enough that the paper runs a photo of this rickety, hollow shell. The ancient oracle then has to sound off on the secret of his longevity. 'I've lived longer than all my friends,' he croaks, 'because I've never used a mattress, always slept on the floor, had raw turkey liver every morning for breakfast, and drank thirty-two glasses of water a day.'"

"Big deal! Thirty-two glasses of water a day. This is the kind of man who is responsible for the water shortages in America. Fortunes have been spent in the arid West, trying to convert sea water into something that can be swallowed with safety, and this old geezer, instead of drinking eight glasses of water a day like the rest of us, has to guzzle thirty-two a day, or enough water to keep four normal people going indefinitely. ..."

Source: Groucho Marx, Groucho and Me, Da Capo, Copyright 1959 by Groucho Marx, renewed 1987 in the name of Arthur Marx as son, pp. 3-4.

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Image: Groucho