My Really, Really Old Friend Franco

I think it’s great, but some think history sphinx.

My buddy Franco is not elderly. Norman Lear was elderly. Franco is ancient. He’s older than dirt – literally. He’s so old he still suffers from hearing loss from standing too close to the original Big Bang. But more noteworthy is that he’s the only person with 24 pairs of chromosomes (instead of the usual 23) – a genetic mutation caused by a very tempting apple his mother Eve probably shouldn’t have eaten. Well, she was warned, but that’s another story.

And on the genes of that 24th chromosome were pristine DNA strands that prevented Franco’s bodily tissues from ever aging; so he’s never gotten old. He’s like one big stem cell. In fact, when he submitted his saliva for genetic testing to 23 and Me, the findings revealed he was related to everyone, everywhere, all at once. As a result, he’s the answer to the question: Who’s your daddy?

Not one to let the rich premise of a preposterous story escape my clutches, I decided to ask Franco about his many and varied experiences, lo these many epochs. And he enthusiastically shared with me great and colorful historical anecdotes I’ve highlighted below:


Franco is So Ancient That…

  1. He rented the last room at the Bethlehem Inn on Dec. 24th, forcing Mary & Joseph to camp out in the manger
  2. Franco had a platonic relationship…with Plato.
  3. His favorite soup? ­– Primordial
  4. He came to America via the Siberian-Alaskan land bridge (that is, once he got his Bering Strait)
  5. He used to call Methuselah “Junior”
  6. When a young Alfred Nobel won a church raffle in Sweden, it was Pastor Franco who presented him with the first ever Nobel Prize
  7. At different times of his life, he’s eaten various alphabet soups teeming with cuneiform, Cyrillic or English letters. He didn’t care much for the Egyptian hieroglyph soup – “too many ankhs, not enough ibises.”
  8. It was Franco’s idea to humanize his tribal leader Atilla by nicknaming him “the Hun”
  9. Same thing with Vlad. When the murderous tyrant wanted to instill even greater fear in his perceived enemies, it was the fertile mind of Franco who came up with “The Impaler.” And it stuck, so to speak.
  10. In addition to his platonic relationship with Plato, he had a tactile relationship with Play-Doh. Oh, how he loves his homonyms.

Franco is So Old That:

  1. He was the actual iceman on whom Eugene O’Neil based his play “The Iceman Cometh
  2. In 250 BC, when he was walking by his friend Archimedes’ villa in Sicily, Franco heard the bathing mathematician exclaim, “Eureka, I have found it!” To which he immediately snapped back, “I didn’t even know you’d lost it Archie.” Little known fact: Franco was the first person to see Archimedes Screw.
  3. Franco was born on the continent of Pangaea
  4. He remembers when the Nile wasjust a river in Egypt
  5. He has cut down trees in the Sahara Forest.

        Audience: I thought the Sahara was a desert.

        Me: Well sure, now.


I Know, I Know, I Know, I Know…(Repetitive heading courtesy Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine”)

  1. He had a pet Microraptor named Dino
  2. His favorite Rat Pack member was Dino
  3. His favorite acid: amino
  4. His favorite cuisine: Filipino
  5. Where he once killed a man: Reno

      Exasperated audience: “We no. I mean, we know.”


Franco is So Old That:

  1. He remembers when the Rocky Mountains were called that Pebbly Ridge.
  2. He remembers when microwaves were just little tiny hand gestures you’d use to signal hello or good-bye
  3. When he was born you neededyour appendix
  4. He was at the Globe on the opening night of Romeo & Juliet
  5. That when he’s feeling groovy he shouts out, “23 Skidoo”
  6. When he sees a picture of Ethel Merman he smolders “hubba hubba.” I don’t know what this has to do with being elderly, but a funny line is a funny line.
  7. When I asked Franco what it was like making love to Catherine the Great he responded, “Umm, not so great. She said she loved me but only as a subject.”
  8. He knew Pythagoras when his theorem was just a concept. “Yeah, when I knew P-thag, he spent most of his time trying to apply his so-called theorem to Aphrodite’s toga.”


All Good Things Must Come to an End (except if you’ve got 24 chromosomes)

As my preternaturally perky friend Franco began sharing his myriad other historical encounters, I sat in awe while he described:

How he once shaved with Occam’s Razor when the 14th century philosopher left his shaving kit unattended.

He mentioned meeting Bernoulli’s Principal – not Bernoulli’s famous principle of fluid dynamics, but the actual principal of little Daniel Bernoulli, who went to the same school in Antwerp as Franco’s son Damien.

Back in Greece and after deflowering Helen of Troy to ignite the Trojan War, Franco told me of wandering over to Aesop’s villa where they regaled each other with moralistic tales. It was there the two broke over the concept of sour grapes.

Franco confided in me that he once trysted with Leonardo DaVinci during Franco’s bicurious Renaissance phase. He went on to say how he told Mona Lisa a mildly amusing joke while she sat for the famous portrait Leonardo painted; and that this may account for her enigmatic smile. While visiting Michelangelo’s sculpture studio on the other side of Florence, Franco was astonished to see all the famous people Michelangelo had gotten stoned.

A few years later, in what would later become Germany, Franco encouraged Johannes Gutenberg to press on with his invention. Gutenberg’s newfangled press was encouraged by Prince Leopold. Evidently the prince liked his prints. Gutenberg had an ink-ling his invention would be of biblical proportion.

Traveling to England, the peripatetic Franco helped Newton with his fig trees (the Fig Newton origin story). In fact, he was there when the brilliant mathematician was awakened from his slumber under an apple tree when a ripe fruit fell upon his noggin. Franco instantly saw how Newton understood the gravity of the situation. Apples to apples: Eve to Newton.


But at the end of the day Franco expressed his greatest regret, “While it’s true, my life has been a grand and eventful experience of the highest highs and the lowest lows, I never got to do what I really wanted to do – to direct.”

And finally, as my noble and philosophic friend Franco lifted his tankard of mead and proposed a toast, he proclaimed:

“To aging. Can’t live with it. Can’t live without it.”

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