Welcome to the Chubby Chatterbox Newsletter, where I’ll be posting favorites from the Chubby Chatterbox archives. In addition, my complete thriller Return of the Mary Celeste will soon be serialized here for those who have asked for something beyond a regular post.

My novel is based on a true event, arguably the greatest maritime mystery of all time. In 1872 the crew and passengers of Boston brigantine Mary Celeste abandoned their seaworthy ship and its valuable cargo, vanishing in the middle of the Atlantic. Speculation over their fate has never abated. History records that after the Mary Celeste tragedy no one from that fateful voyage was ever seen again. History is about to be rewritten…

Return of the Mary Celeste

Prologue

Tragedy struck the brigantine Mary Celeste on the morning of November 25, 1872. The hourly log was later recovered from the deserted vessel; At 8 a.m. the last notation was made. By 9 a.m. no one remained aboard to chalk the next entry.

Something had terrified Captain Benjamin Briggs and his crew, prompting the seasoned skipper to make a decision certain to affect not only himself, his ship and crew, but his family as well—his wife and two year old daughter were aboard Mary Celeste. Much ink has been spilled in fanciful and scientific attempts to explain the calamity that engulfed this perfectly seaworthy ship, yet all that is known for certain is this: in a matter of minutes Captain Briggs became convinced that the only way to save their lives was by ordering everyone into a hastily launched lifeboat. By giving the order to abandon ship, he also launched the greatest of all maritime mysteries.

On December 5, 1872, a month after leaving New York Harbor, Mary Celeste was found drifting on a calm and empty sea. The ship was in fine condition, perfectly intact with valuable cargo safely stored in her hold, but the crew and passengers had vanished. None were ever seen again.

Until now….

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As Old as You Feel?

May 2, 2016

I don’t think about my age very often but it’s undeniable that the years are stacking up; I’ll be sixty-four in November. Many people think I’m younger than I am. I often joke about possessing a disarming immaturity most people mistake for youth. It’s often said that you’re only as old as you feel, and lately I’ve been trying to do things to feel younger- like taking tennis lessons from Tina N., a good friend you might remember as being a master gardener.

 

One of the few advantages of being overweight is that fat tends to reduce wrinkles. My facial hair has gone grey but when I add a bit of color I can pass for forty-five, which annoys Mrs. Chatterbox who is often thought slightly older than she is. This reminds me of a family incident that occurred when I was a teenager.

           

My mother’s mother was born on Terceira Island, a Portuguese possession that’s part of the Azores archipelago in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean. We always celebrated her birthday on August 2nd, but this practice came into question when my grandmother received a disturbing letter from a department of records in Lisbon. A document had been found casting new light on my grandmother’s birth.

 

The old church on Terceira where Grandma was baptized had burned to the ground shortly after she emigrated to America, destroying the ledgers listing births and deaths on the island. The official record of Grandma’s birth was lost, until a letter from Lisbon arrived providing her with some curious news.

 

A copy of the ledger recording Grandma’s birth had been found in Lisbon.  A mix-up had occurred and Grandma was confused with someone else. We’d been celebrating her birthday on the wrong day every year (she was actually born on August 16th) and she was born in 1903, not 1900.

 

I remember saying to her, “Isn’t it great, Grandma? Instead of being seventy-two you’re only sixty-nine.”

 

In her thick Portuguese accent, she said, “Big deal; I FEEL seventy-two!”

        

How do you feel about your age? Does the number match your internal clock? Do people tell you that you look younger than you are? Older? As Dylan Thomas might have asked, “Are you going gently into that good night?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Comments

19 Comments
Yes, Steve, I have had people tell me that I look younger than I really am, but like your Grandma, I feel MUCH older than I really am! I am feeling some younger after my recent back surgery. At least I don't have to use a walker (for now!)to make me LOOK older!
By: Linda on May 2, 2016
I DO feel younger than my age -- mentally at least. Maybe I should take tennis lessons from a master gardener. I hear they make the best tennis teachers. My grandfather always claimed to be 3 years older than he was said to be. Whenever he told me his age, one of his 6 daughters would groan and say, "Every year, his two years older!" Turns out he was right. We have since found documents proving he was born in 1889 and not 1892. His daughters refused to believe it and his gravestone insists he was 91 and not 94 when he died.
By: Mitchell is Moving on May 2, 2016
I do feel much younger than my age and I am 11 months older than you. I am lucky in the sense that my family has the "never show your age" gene. My son is 40 and still gets carded. My grandmother was 101 when she died last year and people thought she was in her 70s. which given my age would be impossible. So while I look younger and feel younger ...I think one of the reasons people assume I am younger is that I have a very small athletic body. Because I work out a lot and am very fit, it gives the illusion of being more youthful than I really am.
By: Cheryl P. on May 2, 2016
People used to think I was younger. But not so much anymore, ever since my hair turned gray now fading to white. I blame that on my mother, who was prematurely gray -- she had gray hair when I was born..
By: Tom Sightings on May 2, 2016
I have always been told I look younger. Many people my age or older or even bit younger think of me as 5 or so years younger. Unfortunately, the much younger...not too sure. A couple of weeks ago I went to the local drug store and when i got my receipt and noticed they gave me the senior's discount! I am not 55 yet (will be 52) and was bothered by that but thrilled that I got a discount. ...no, I didn't correct her. I can't go by how old I feel. My pain is bad every day and many a 75 year old has walked faster than me but in my mind, I feel like I am a wise 25. Not stupid enough to do all the stupid things I did do but still dumb enough to think I can do all
By: Birgit on May 2, 2016
People always are telling me I look lots older than my age which will be 74 this October....I do ask myself how I got here so darn fast! I think it's a person's general attitude in life plus genetics! Have a great day!
By: Kathe W. on May 2, 2016
Sometimes people tell me I look younger than my 69.5. But I think they are lying and just trying to flatter me. I look my age. I am more agile then some my age and less than others. I could lose 25 pounds!!
By: Tabor on May 2, 2016
Facial hair adds year(s) for most men. I suppose it doesn't help much with hair growing in places that never had hair previously. LOL Good health helps you feel younger, and for many of us our memories fool us into thinking we can still accomplish tasks or activities we use to do.
By: Daniel LaFrance on May 2, 2016
Most of the time i just figure i am between birth and death, and that's enough to know about this age thing!
By: messymimi on May 2, 2016
I feel younger most of the time, but my knees are giving me fits and it makes me limp a little. But for the most part, I feel like I'm much younger than my 65 years.
By: Rick Watson on May 2, 2016
I have always looked older thanks to years of sun worship and some bad habits-smoking, etc. My fitness self however has always been younger which usually garnered me the almost compliment that I certainly am spry for my age. Then recently I lost 40 pounds on a heart healthy diet. Boy does that release the wrinkles when the fat dissolves.. Good thing I am not shopping for romance.
By: Arkansas Patti on May 2, 2016
Good question. I feel younger than my age. Now when it comes to looks that's another question. Looks and age are very subjective. Yes, there's a young person inside me! No old guy here!
By: redKline on May 2, 2016
My students peg me as 15-20 years younger than my actual age. L'Oreal is keeping my secret. My knees, however, beg to differ.
By: Val on May 2, 2016
How could you post my picture (with the cigar) without my permission?
By: fishducky on May 2, 2016
Hmmm....not sure how old I look, but let me tell you - all those people my age certainly look old! Off topic: I knew your family came from the Azores, and I've always known where they are located, but tonight I googled some images. Now I'm curious - have you ever visited there?
By: Pixel Peeper on May 2, 2016
I don't know if I feel younger than my age. how is 66 supposed to feel? I know when my mother turned 60 she declared that she was old now and didn't have to do anything and then she didn't. and got old and feeble. I swore not to do that. so I'm still (almost) as active as I ever was. I could do without some of the wrinkles and crepey skin.
By: Ellen Abbott on May 3, 2016
Like other boomers I'm mystified at way the years have rolled on. A big part of me still feels like a kid, though convincing the body about that is another matter. Good to hear you are taking tennis lessons. It's a great game. I started playing after our move to California and am probably in better shape now than I was in my 50's!
By: Tom Cochrun on May 3, 2016
I have often surprised people when I tell them how old I am. But lately I've begun to feel my age. Drat!
By: Bruce Taylor on May 3, 2016
"... a disarming immaturity most people mistake for youth..." Describes me to a T! Plus the being overweight (no wrinkles) & dying my hair. Just the other day someone told me that I could pass for someone in their 30s (I'm 52) - but since she's a good bit older than I am, I took that with a grain of salt. Ha!
By: The Bug on May 4, 2016

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