Nearly 15 years ago I took one of those quizzes on a website that sold life insurance. It was called “How long will I live?”
At the end of the test they informed me that, everything else being equal, I could expect to live to 83, which sounded better to me when I was 48 than it does today. So I decided to take the test again, on another site that was also selling insurance. That result said I could expect to live to be 87. Then they added: “Congratulations on your life expectancy, which is 2.9 years more than most. BUT, this also means you will spend hundreds of thousands more in retirement. Take care of this problem today by buying an annuity from us.”
That last part made me wonder how accurate the test really was, so I looked for another, less commission oriented site. My search led me to the “Poodlewaddle Life Clock.” With a name like that I was confident in getting fair and accurate results.
The first thing Poodlewaddle asked was my age. After giving that, they told me I’d make it to age 74.67. That disappointed me because, like I said, when I was 48 I was told I’d live to 83, and I’ve always been under the impression that the longer you lived, the longer you could expect to live. But, I pressed on, hoping to add years as the quiz went on.
Next they asked me what country I live in and when I told them U.S., my expectancy shot up to 84.67. I was curious and entered Australia, and my number became 85.52. Then I typed in Afghanistan, and it plummeted to 62.79; probably due to some of the job descriptions over there.
Next I typed in that I am a guy, and of course the number fell, to 82.51. Curious again, I changed to female and the number shot back up to 86.86.
Then I told them I had three grandparents who lived past the age of 80, and that got me up to 84.23. The only one who didn’t make it past 80 was my grandfather John, who I’m named after. But they didn’t take anything off for that.
Next, they asked about dad. The options were that he either lived past 80 or he died of a heart attack before 50, which is weird because he did die of a heart attack, at 51. So I checked the second option and my life dropped to 79.98. But then mom, who made it past 80, helped me out and I got back to 81.66.
Speaking of Mom, the next few categories could all be lumped together under the heading she would have called, “Drinkin’ and Smokin’ and Actin’ the Fool.” After answering all of those as honestly as I dared, nothing changed. No really, I swear.
Then came my height and weight, which is 6-feet, 4-inches, 244 pounds, classifying me as overweight, closing hard on obese. I take exception to that as I can still fit into a 36, just like I could 30 years ago. Maybe I was obese then. To move out of my overweight classification I would have to weigh 205. Fat chance.
A few questions more about diet and exercise and overall happiness and stress and they announced my final age would be 81.97, which, by my calculations, has me checking out in 2039, somewhere between the Ides of March and April Fool’s Day.
The lesson to all this, I guess, is that it’s better to be a stress-free vegetarian woman living in Australia than it is to be an overweight male pothead in Afghanistan.
But hey, at least now I don’t need an annuity.
Jay Edwards is a freelance columnist who can be reached at email@example.com.