I spent my morning in the Firestone waiting room, getting the oil changed in my wife’s Mitsubishi. Lest you think I’m not a man for letting some lackey change the oil in my wife’s car, well, suffice to say, it works best for us. Fini. And, if you think there are lackeys, we need another conversation.

So, I’m in the waiting room with this older gentleman, older than me, anyway, and, out of the blue, he says, “Ya know, I’m a blue-eyed Black man.” 

We all label ourselves, and this was his label. He waved me over to his chair, pulling the skin away from his eyes, and wanted me to look. Sure enough, they were as blue as my Scandihoovian grandpa’s. He said he was in the store the other day, needing help to grab something off the top shelf. He asked a girl nearby if she would help, and when she came over, she looked at him and ran through the store, calling for granny. “Granny,” she yelled, running, “come quick. It’s a blue-eyed Black man. Both Granny and the girl were black and made a beeline to my new friend to check out this rarity. He said that his momma – he grew up in Florida – was as dark as anyone you meet. When she slipped out the door at night, you lost her three feet from the door. But his dad? Pure blue-eyed Seminole.

He was 95 and said people bug him all the time about what the secret is to living so long and so well. Heck, I wanted to know. The guy looked like he might be 70 and acted like he was 13. 

“Three things,” he said, holding up a finger for each one.

“First? You don’t trust nobody. I mean, nobody.” Then he told me about when his wife died, and his daughter came to visit and stole the secret stash from his boot to buy drugs. I wasn’t sure how this related to living long and well but nodded anyway.

“Second is that you love G every day, no matter what. Plain and simple as that.”

“Third,” and he leaned a little closer, like he had to whisper the secret so it wouldn’t get out. “The secret to living long is…” he paused for effect…”you don’t die!” He leaned back and laughed like this was the best joke he ever told or that I ever heard.

After he caught his breath, I wrapped it up for him. “So, you trust no one, you love G, and YOU DONT DIE!”

He laughed again. I’m guessing he always does.

So, all in all, it was a nice morning at Firestone, sitting in lousy chairs, bathed in light from the chip machine, not yet dead, and talking to a blue-eyed Black man. And living. And hey, I WOKE UP BREATHING. How about that?