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The 2000 Year Old Man was actually born in 1950, when Carl Reiner bought a $138 Revere tape recorder, plugged in the microphone, and instead of saying, "Testing, testing," turned to Mel Brooks and asked, "Is it true that you were at the scene of the Crucifixion some 2000 years ago?" As Brooks' imagination took flight, the old man uttered his first remembrance of things past with a moan of "Oooooooohboy." And then: "I knew Christ, Christ was a thin lad, always wore sandals. Hung around with 12 other guys. They ...
The 2000 Year Old Man was actually born in 1950, when Carl Reiner bought a $138 Revere tape recorder, plugged in the microphone, and instead of saying, "Testing, testing," turned to Mel Brooks and asked, "Is it true that you were at the scene of the Crucifixion some 2000 years ago?" As Brooks' imagination took flight, the old man uttered his first remembrance of things past with a moan of "Oooooooohboy." And then: "I knew Christ, Christ was a thin lad, always wore sandals. Hung around with 12 other guys. They came in the store, no one ever bought anything. Once they asked for water."
Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks ad-libbed their first interviews between the miraculous ancient sage and the reporter covering his history-making arrival in the United States. The 2000 Year Old Man knew everyone from Jesus to Shakespeare, Cleopatra to Paul Revere. He was there when men discovered women, and he dated Joan of Arc. The feisty raconteur had been married several hundred times. He had 42,000 children — "and not one comes to visit me." The Jewish Methuselah had something to say about everyone and everything — from religion to soul kissing, from taxes to nectarines: "Half a peach, half a plum. It's a hell of a fruit!" Brooks never knew what Reiner was going to ask, and Reiner only knew that he would never get the same answer twice. Reiner calls it "writing with the mouth."
Most of the targets Reiner and Brooks skewered between 1961 and 1974 on record albums are still with us, including food, cigarettes, the power of advertising, selling America to Japan, neglected children, fear of homosexuals in the military, inadequate health care, fad diets, violent films and pretentious filmmakers. In this millenial update of the cult comedy classic, the 2000 Year Old Man offers his unique wit and wisdom on everything from the Mars landing to shopping malls; homeopathy to the invention of the infomercial; his own dietary secrets, from eating a swirl to his time-tested Seven-Day Diet; and pet peeves, from rap music to "If you know the extension, press one..." The humor of The 2000 Year Old Man in the Year 2000 is a hilarious antidote to the millenial literature of the '90s.
There is a lot to remember. In my time, I've experienced so many diseases, illnesses, and accidents that when I go into the doctor's office for a checkup and get that piece of paper that lists every disease known to medical science, I take a big black crayon and write "Yes" across it. I check them all.
But a medical history, I've learned, is of little value unless it's also accompanied by a personal history. At my most recent checkup, I got X-rays, fluoroscopes, MRIs, CAT scans ... You name it. Those doctors knew everything about me. Except they couldn't explain my healthy old age.
After every examination, they always asked, "What's the secret to your longevity?"
I was reluctant to divulge. It would only help them and hurt me.
If everyone lived till 2,000, Id never be able to get a room at the Ramada Inn. They'd all be taken.
But I decided not to be so selfish.
So on with my story...
I am a less-than-tall Jewish man with an Eastern European J.L accent and strikingly good-looking for a funny-looking guy. In public I usually wear a black cape and a black hat, and I lean on a cane for balance. In life, balance is good. I'm toldthat I bear an uncanny resemblance to Mel Brooks. In shopping malls, I get the strangest looks from people who think they recognize me from his movies.
I never saw his movies, but I hear they're very good -- I'll have to rent one. But I'm me, and he's he.
My full name is Benjamin, Ben Aaron, Ben Esau, Ben Solomon, Ben Alvin, Ben Sidney, Ben Lillian (the crossdresser) -- sometimes known as Ben Gay.
Or just say that I've been around. I was born in minus 37 and I lived in a cave with my parents.
It was Cave 76, a roomy cave with southern exposure and an unobstructed view of Cave 75.
Back then a cave was important. It went beyond shelter. It was part of your identity. Every cave was like its own individual nation. We had our own flags and our own national anthems. I'll never forget ours. My mother wrote it. It had such passion and pride. Let me sing it to you. Wait, I'll clear my throat. Here goes:
"Let 'em all go to hell, except Cave 76?'
Ha? Is that beautiful?
I still get a chill when I hear that song.
The inside of a cave could be dark, dank, and moist. But ours had two beacons of light and warmth-my parents.
My mother. What can I say about such a wonderful, loving, and caring woman?
She kept busy all day cleaning, cooking, and killing mainly chickens. On Friday nights anything with feathers was a goner. That woman plucked till dawn.
I don't know much about my father. He ate his soup and mumbled his prayers. Basically a quiet Jewish man. But strict. I can still hear him bark, "Candles out at seven!"
I can remember him raising his hand to us kids. But we were never frightened when he raised his hand. It was when he brought it down -- that's when we got scared. That's when we ducked and moved.
Everyone said he was a disciplinarian. But believe me, there was no arian* in that man.
My mother and father were typical Jewish parents. Proud and spiteful. When I was older and could afford my own cave, I invited them over for dinner. It was raining terribly that evening, but my parents wouldn't come in. They stood outside the cave getting wet.
"Come in, Pa;' I said.
"No, I'm all right here' he said quietly. "I'm fine."
They were getting drenched by the rain so I yelled at them, "Come in! Come in!"
"We don't have to come in' my mother said. "We can see you from here. We just want to look on you."
Finally I pushed them in and took their coatskins. Then I sat them down and brought dinner.
"No, we already had dinner' my mother said. "We ate some squirrels and berries on the way over. We didn't want to be a bother. We don't ever want you to do anything for us. Just think of yourself, darling. We are nothing."
I realize now they were only doing what all good parents try to do for their children -- fill them with guilt for the rest of their lives.
Excerpted from The 2000 Year Old Man in the Year 2000 by Mel Brooks Copyright © 2006 by Mel Brooks. Excerpted by permission.
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Posted December 14, 2000