In his book, A Salty Piece of Land, Jimmy Buffet has a heroine named Cleopatra Highbourne that is 101 years old. Cleopatra sails all around the Caribbean on a 142-foot schooner named Lucretia that is also over a hundred years old. Reading the book you meet Cleopatra in the first few pages. She sparked my curiosity, but at the same time I remember pausing for a moment to think that this might be a little bit ridiculous. I’m a big Jack Sparrow fan and I am not deterred by a little ridiculousness. I can see through to the truth. I’m such a Jack Sparrow fan that once I only narrowly escaped several chances of being locked up while doing my best impersonation. It was in Tampa, Florida during the Gasparilla Pirate Festival. I wandered through a crowd, lost and alone, infuriating mothers of little children, unintentionally antagonizing the police, helplessly trying to find my way from the docks to a parade reviewing stand.
Still, Cleopatra Highbourne has always seemed a little far fetched, until last weekend. Last weekend Kay and I hosted a party at our bed and breakfast, and among the guests were Annie and her mother, Ann Rivers from Chesterfield. Johnny Cash’s mother was a Rivers from Chesterfield. This should have been seen as a sign. It was a beautiful afternoon and as we enjoyed a cocktail hour it soon became apparent that Ann Rivers was very inspiring and quickly becoming the hit of the party. As cocktail parties are meant to do, ours became increasingly lively till the seafood gumbo was served. After we ate, I brought out a couple of guitars and Willie Weeks and I began to entertain. We all sang and laughed and after awhile the Rivers ladies got up and started going around saying their good-byes. As they were leaving, they were met by two carloads of police responding to reports of an out of control party. Their attitudes of authority were thwarted by Anne Rivers’ spunk. Besides, how often do you think they are met by a 97 year old lady when they raid a party? A lady only four years younger than the fictional Cleopatra Highbourne.
A couple of days later I was on the metal roof over a porch cleaning out gutters. Kay was sitting on the porch and heard the commotion as I fell and slid toward the edge. I had made a stupid decision and stepped on a slick spot. “You’re too old to be on the roof,” she fussed after seeing that I was all right. “How old is too old?” I replied. Getting old is not a problem. Staying smart, that’s the trick.