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SEPTEMBER 22

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Life takes care of itself; it’s the getting old and dying that has me worried. We all know the routine: Stick it out until the body goes, or the mind goes, and then it’s off to some sterile nursing home to be forgotten except on alternate Sundays, when the family comes to visit. Meantimes, as nurses prod and doctors poke, one’s systems quietly go about failing—surrounded, for the first time since college or the army, by total strangers. It’s the loneliest life imaginable. All the more remarkable, then, is the way nursing-home roomies Louis Freed and Joe Torchio become Old Friends (friends who are old, that is). For their tale of extraordinary humanity amid dehumanizing circumstances, we have author Tracy Kidder to thank; he reads from Friends Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Olsson’s, 1200 F St. NW. FREE. (202) 347-3686. (Bill Gifford)