Adorable 100-Year-Old Wishes He Maybe Banged More Friends' Wives

Illustration for article titled Adorable 100-Year-Old Wishes He Maybe Banged More Friends Wives

At 99 years young, Los Angeles resident and lawn bowling aficionado Fred Fox is feeling his age — he needs pills so he can digest food properly. He can't feel his legs. His feet are all tingly. He has to piss every two hours through the night. But none of that adds up to the regret of wondering if he maybe should've gotten more tail? Like, from his friends' wives?


I say this with nothing but genuine affection, because this short profile over at LA Weekly of Fox as he nears his 100th birthday (July 14), reflecting back on a life lived well, is chock full of solid, DGAF-but-totally-does advice about how we should all be so lucky as to conduct our lives.

Lesson #1: Find Your French Horn

Fox was born poor — a dressmaker's son in Brooklyn — but his father wanted him to play violin to make a better life for himself. But Fox wanted to play another instrument:

He'd gone to a party where he saw a live band for the first time and fell in love with the trombone. "That slide!" he recalls now. "Oh boy! That really got me."


*wipes away tears*

But his parents felt the trombone was "a cheap instrument," likely that it was far less prestigious than the violin, at least in a dance band context. Luckily, his music teacher stepped in with a brilliant solution:

"Teach Freddy the French horn. Because even if he plays it as badly as he plays the fiddle, he'll make a living at it, because there aren't very many of them."

"And he was right," Fox says now.

*wipes away tears*

Lesson #2: Milk It

The French horn went over like gangbusters. By 18 years old he was playing for the Minneapolis Symphony, then the Los Angeles Philharmonic at 21. He wrote the so-called bible of brass playing, Essentials of Brass Playing and still earns royalty checks. He played the French horn until his teeth fell out.

Lesson# 3: Don't Get Complacent

He did well thanks to the French horn, but did he rest on his sweet French horn laurels? No, he got rich off managing income properties for a living, like something out of Rich Dad, Poor Dad.


Lesson #4: Duh, True Love

He married a trumpet player named Frida who was impressed with his French horn wail if you get my meaning, about which he says, "Point being, it was the French horn that did it."


*wipes away tears*

Lesson #5: Travel

He camped throughout Europe in the 1950s, hiked around South America. Taught (music I presume) in Finland.


Lesson #6: Learn Important Lessons From French Horn

He had a son who does not play music also, for which he is grateful, because:

"To make a good living at it, he'd have to be in the top 10 percent of them. You know, better than everyone else. To make a good living as a dentist or doctor, 50 percent will do you very well." The "musician thing," Fox says, ought to be done only by those who must. "Otherwise don't do it. That's why."


Lesson #7: Don't Dwell

Fred Fox still drives himself around and buys his own groceries and plays lawn bowling, but his secret to longevity is all in the mind.

When people inquire how he stayed alive so long, he tells them not to let the terrible stuff linger in your head. From there, it migrates down to your body.

"The body is my dumb servant," he says. "Keep it relaxed. Be nice to it. Keep it feeling good."


Lesson #8: Devise Cute Analogies About Life Philosophy

Anyone can say something true, but who can say it with an adorable old-timey analogy?

The castle is your mind. Build a moat around it. "Outside, it's bad. But inside, living is great. Anytime I have a thought that's a nasty one, instead of chewing on it, I mentally spit it out."


Lesson #9: Don't Be a Sadsack

Fred Fox's grandchildren barely even talk to him, which is sad, but is the guy with the moat and castle analogy going to let it make HIM sad? Nope.

"So what? I never see them. They never talk to me. They're so busy with their computers. They don't stop by and say, 'Grandpa, how was it back when...'"

But he plans to solve that problem, too. Next time, he'll point to a grandkid and say, "You. Twenty minutes. With me."


*wipes away tears*

Lesson #10: Live Deliberately

I don't even know you but I know you're wasting your life right now because you're not doing it right, Fred Fox-style.

"If I made a mistake, it was done with total knowledge, and I can live with that."


Lesson #11: Know When to Cut Bait

People never know when to walk away! This is a well-honed life skill. Fox said his own father was a bit of a "sourpuss" who, even after seeing him rock the French horn (key to life), wrote Fox a letter saying he couldn't remember a single positive thing about their relationship. Says Fox:

"From that moment on, I didn't care if he lived or died," Fox says. "It wasn't anger. I was through."


*wipes away tears*

Lesson #12: Be Quippy

Fred Fox says things like:

What's so good about being old?


Sure, I've got wisdom. But I don't actually use it.


"You know what they say about those creatures who live forever? The bloodsuckers?" He makes a gleeful stabbing motion at his neck. "Many of them would love to die. Think about that."


When asked his favorite age, Fred Fox, comedian for the ages, says:

"Anything but now."

Lesson #13: Be Wise as Fuck, but Nonchalant About It

Fred Fox has no idea what happens when we die, but he figures we are basically living in an ant-to-human ratio when it comes to us and anyone or -thing that might exist to control our fates.

"To that ant, you're so large as to be incomprehensible and invisible, right?"

Yet he is still grateful to whomever/whatever gives him one more day.

*wipes away tears*

Lesson #14: Have No Regrets, or Maybe Just One Real Hilarious One

Fred Fox has NO REGRETS OK? Or maybe just this one:

"There were many moments when these wives were willing, shall we say. And I didn't. To this day, I ask, should I? I still don't know."


What can you do, Fred Fox? There is always probably another tomorrow.

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Wow. I read the original article at LA Weekly and the one here. This man has some really amazing things to say about life.

But the headline? Boiling it down to him wishing he'd banged more of his friends' wives?