The Starter presses the trigger and sets off a loud bang; female athletes between the ages 90-94 race down the track for the 100 meter dash with the aim of becoming the gold medal winner at the National Senior Games. These agéd athletes seem to be—quite literally—running in the opposite direction of the Grimm Reaper. Which begs the question: Do they listen to Alphaville’s “Forever Young” during warm-ups? What would a nonagenarian look like on ‘roids? And most importantly; What is their secret to eternal youth?
Bill Gifford’s latest novel Spring Chicken: Stay Young Forever (Or Die Trying) may have some answers to our questions. The novel is an exploration into the science of anti-aging and describes some questionable attempts at keeping the death bed in a far-off guest room. According to Gifford, these athletic grandmas are succeeding at avoiding their dance with death by staying active. He argues that the secret to staying young is as simple as exercise, eating well and getting enough sleep. Before Gifford reveals his answer to fighting off old age, he explains past unsuccessful attempts at it and it becomes clear that society’s fixation with staying young dates back much further than Norma Desmond.
Gifford’s tongue-in-cheek humor is most obvious through his stories of ineffective solutions to aging. Our personal favorite failure is Professor Brown-Séquard who, in 1889, gave himself an injection of young dog and guinea pig testicales in hopes of living longer. According to Gifford’s comedic writing the answer to staying young is not by an injection of your late poodle’s huevos—god rest his canine soul—or extreme and dangerous procedures such as Human Growth Hormone treatment pioneered by Cenegenics and sold by a ripped septuagenarian named Dr. Life.
However, simply eating three squares and exercising seem like pretty painless steps for a society that has been built on the idea that beauty is only accomplished with a little bit of pain. Gifford found fault in many health remedies, but he didn’t mention Elixirs, which could very well hold the solution to humanity’s obsession with remaining youthful. This is why we have decided to take matters into our own hands and investigate the tricks to living forever. May 90 be the new 20 and retirement homes be replaced with juice bars.