A Conversation with My 106-Year-Old Neighbor

On life and death

When I was younger, I would always see Ms. Van Hooten walking around the block. She lived next door, and I’d wave sometimes, and she’d wave back. On Halloween, she’d save the best candy for when I came to her house. We didn’t talk much, but we had a special bond.

Now, at 106 years old, she doesn’t get around much. I wanted to know more about her life, and what wisdom she could share with me. I contacted her caretaker and was thrilled to learn Ms. Van Hooten wanted to speak. I drafted some questions and headed on over.

Here is how our meeting went down.

Jared: Ms. Van Hooten, thanks for taking the time to talk to me.
Ms. Van Hooten: Sure.
Jared: You look great, by the way. Not a year over a century.
Ms. Van Hooten: Okay.
Jared: (laughs nervously) So, let’s get started… Ms. Van Hooten, what’s your greatest memory during your 106 years of life?
Ms. Van Hooten: Please kill me.
Jared: Uh… so how about your worst experience?
Ms. Van Hooten: Right now. Just kill me. Please. No one should have to live like this.
Jared: But it’s not your time yet.
Ms. Van Hooten: It was my time 15 years ago. I’m begging you. Pull the plug.
Jared: There are so many plugs, I wouldn’t even know which one to pull.

*At this point, it’s important to note that Ms. Van Hooten’s consciousness was uploaded to a computer in late 2002.

Jared: Are you in pain?
Ms. Van Hooten: Yes. Always.
Jared: How? You’re not even a physical being anymore.
Ms. Van Hooten: I’ve watched everyone I love die. I can’t play with my great-grandkids, and I didn’t even get to see my granddaughter get married because my software was in the middle of an automatic update. This isn’t life. It’s death without dying.
Jared: Wow, that’s deep, Ms. Van Hooten… So did you vote this last election?
Ms. Van Hooten: No. I don’t care.
Jared: Donald Trump is president. That’s pretty crazy, right?
Ms. Van Hooten: I don’t care. Are you going to kill me or not?
Jared: Ms. Van Hooten, that’s illegal. I can’t take another person’s life.
Ms. Van Hooten: I’m hardly alive. If someone doesn’t move the cursor every five minutes I go to sleep. I’m a prisoner. You don’t know what it’s like in here. Everything is black. Please, just end my life. I’m miserable.
Jared: Okay, let me find a good question… Oh! Here’s one. So, Ms. Van Hooten, in your 106 years of life, you’ve probably seen a lot of movies, right? What are some of your favorites?
Ms. Van Hooten: The software has a kill code just in case I reach transcendence. It’s on the refrigerator. Go get it and type it in. Please.
Jared: What about Casablanca? Did you see that in theaters?
Ms. Van Hooten: When my husband died in 1989, I promised him I’d be with him as soon as I could. Then when I got the cancer diagnosis I was relieved I could finally fulfill my promise. But nope. And now you’re preventing me from being with him. I’m not a person anymore. I’m some lab experiment. Please. Kill me. Kill me, kill me, kill me.

*At this point, I left our meeting, since I figured Ms. Van Hooten was getting cranky and could use some rest.

Here are my takeaways from our get-together:

  • The older you get, the greater your perspective becomes.
  • You become colder toward younger people, probably because they are younger and you will die soon while they live on.
  • It’s probably hard to see loved ones die. Ms. Van Hooten said something about her husband dying. That was probably hard.
  • Just because you are old doesn’t mean you should be respected. Ms. Van Hooten was mean and unwelcoming. She knew I was coming over and could have at least pretended to care about our interview. I hope she goes to Hell, or she gets to Heaven and her husband is in Hell, and then they both get transferred at the same time so they can be together, but when they get to their respective destinations, they are told the other one already transferred, so then it’s just a loop of them constantly transferring from Heaven to Hell (or vice-versa) and they spend infinity trying to be together but they never can. That’s what Ms. Van Hooten deserves.

Jared is an award-winning (that’s not true) writer who has published featured articles (also not true) in Playboy, Maxim, and Entertainment Weekly (no, no, and no). In his free time, he donates his time to help (don’t know where this is going, but it’s probably not true) inner-city youth learn how to read (yeah, not true). If you enjoyed this piece or would like to troll Jared on social media, his Twitter is here and his website is here.