INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. - Take a 20-year anniversary of the Incline Village Recreation Center, toss in a Mark Twain birthday celebration, add wine and what do you get? A night of wine and wisdom.For those who chose not to buck the blustery weather last Friday I shall unveil some of Mark Twain's secrets of longevity here and hope they are of some use to you down the road...Ostensibly, I am an old man now at 177, and I have known a great many troubles; most of them never happened. When I was younger man, studying for the gallows, I could remember anything, whether it happened or not. But I am getting old now, and soon I shall remember only the latter. I have achieved my 177 years in the usual way; by sticking strictly to a scheme of life which would kill anybody else. You cannot reach old age by another man's road.We have no permanent habits until we are forty. Then they begin to harden, presently they petrify, then business begins.In the matter of diet I have been persistently strict in sticking to things which did not agree with each other's company, and letting them fight it out on the inside. Though this past Thanksgiving I stopped frolicking around with mincemeat pie after midnight; up to then I had always believed it was not loaded.As for smoking, I came into the world asking for a light, and will probably go out blowing smoke rings. I smoke in moderation today; I never smoke more than one cigar at a time. Oh, it has always been a rule of mine never to smoke while asleep, and never to refrain when awake. It is a good rule. I mean for me, though some of you know quite well that it wouldn't answer for everybody that's trying to get to be 177 years old.I have always bought cheap cigars -reasonably cheap. Ninety years ago they cost me six dollars a barrel. But my taste has improved lately, and I pay seven now. Six or seven. Seven, I think. Yes, it's seven. But that includes the barrel. These were manufactured in Hartford for the clergy. They make noise when they burn ... like a forest fire crackling. The good news is, fleas and mosquitoes take no interest in me whatsoever.As for drinking, I have no rules about drinking; when others are drinking, I like to help. I have found that a tumbler full of whiskey in the afternoon is a preventative against toothache. I've never had the toothache, and I don't intend to have one.Exercise? Exercise is loathsome. I've never seen any advantage in being tired. Whenever I get the urge to exercise, I go lie down somewhere until it passes away ... forgive me for saying so on these hallowed grounds.In closing I repeat and emphasize my maxim: You cannot reach old age by another man's road. My habits protect my life, while they would assassinate you! The main thing, the essential thing, is that we endeavor so to live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry. And that speaks to you, Mr. Galante.Thanks to the gracious staff at the recreation center and the folks at Tahoe Ridge Winery, we had the most sociable evening of wine & wisdom in recent memory...- Learn more about McAvoy Layne at www.ghostoftwain.org.
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