(Slow day at the office...)
Speaking of obits, this from New Yorker magazine. Supposedly, all of the death references are true.
by PAUL SIMMS
Issue of 2004-07-05
Lord? Please don’t let me die in a funny way.
Like being beaten to death with a shoe. Especially not my own shoe. And, if it absolutely has to be my own shoe, I’d rather not be wearing it at the time.
Or like choking on my own fist during a bar bet.
Perhaps I should clarify a little. I do know that I’m going to die someday. (Maybe soon! That’s Your call.) And I know there’s nothing funny about death—at least, that’s the current thinking from this side. I’m just asking to not die in a way that leads people who don’t know me to e-mail one another news items about my death. For instance:
Please don’t let me get so fat that paramedics have to come to my house and cut out a wall to remove me but then bang my head against a load-bearing pillar in the process, thus killing me.
Please don’t let me die on or near or—perhaps worst of all—because of a toilet. (This includes a urinal or a baseball-stadium-style urine trough, in addition to a standard commode.)
Please don’t let my death in any way involve one of those giant inflatable rats that union protesters put up outside non-union job sites. Or a blimp of any kind. Until I see some evidence to the contrary, I’m going to have to say that my dying because of just about anything inflatable would be something I’d rather avoid. A hot-air balloon, I guess, would be O.K., but only if I’m actually in the balloon at the time. At least that would be kind of rugged and outdoorsy. What I’m trying to say is: if someone else’s hot-air balloon falls out of the sky and smothers me while I’m lying in a hammock reading Hot Air Balloon Enthusiast magazine, I’m going to be a little pissed.
I apologize for that language, Lord, but I’m just trying to be honest with You.
A vehicular accident? Fine. Bring it on. I understand that, statistically, there’s a pretty good chance of that happening anyway. Just please don’t let it involve a moped. Or a go-kart.
Also, I’d prefer not to die in a head-on collision with someone who—against all odds—has the same name as me. Or anyone named, for instance, Roger Crash. Or Ed Oncollision. Or Jennifer Safedriver. I could go on, but I think You get the point.
I’m sure You get this one a lot, but: please don’t let me die during sex. Unless the technical cause of my death is a heart attack or a stroke. If I have to die during sex, please don’t make the cause of death any of the following: extreme dehydration, a previously undiagnosed allergy to fruit-scented or “massage” oils, dermatological complications arising from severe rug burn, or anything involving the use or misuse of any object best described as “foreign.”
Please don’t let me die in a way that allows the Post to run a small item about my death on page 12 or 13 or so under the headline “dude, where’s my corpse?” Or “dumb and deader.” Or “dead and deader.” Or “the house of sand and dead.” Or “j. lo’s latest nuptials postponed due to lethal tent-raising mishap.”
Please don’t let me cut my own head off while trying to revive the lost Scouting pastime of mumblety-peg.
I would have to consider any fatality involving a prolapsed anus, of course, absolutely beyond the pale. I mean, come on, Lord.
Also—and I’m not trying to split hairs with You, Lord—when I ask You to not let me die in a funny way, I also mean please don’t let me die in a noteworthily ironic way. Meaning: whether my death is “ha-ha” funny or the other kind of funny, neither of those is what I’m in the market for. For instance, please don’t let me go on a Sleepwalkers Anonymous Outward Bound-type retreat and sleepwalk into a canyon or gorge in the middle of the night.
And, if You deem it necessary (or just amusing) to take my mind before You take my body, let’s try to keep the progressive dementia noble and epically sad rather than comical. For example: please let the last face I recognize be the photograph of a long-lost high-school girlfriend and not one of the plucky toddlers from the animated show “Rugrats.” In my final moments, let me awaken—apparently lucid—in the pre-dawn hours calling out for a kiss on the forehead from a dead great-aunt rather than from the mustachioed black bartender on “The Love Boat.”
Or from the actor who played him, for that matter.
Even if I don’t die in a funny way, I’d still rather not die on the same day as some other person who does die in a funny way. Because I don’t want any version of the following conversation to occur between my friends:
Friend One: Did you read his obituary?
Friend Two: Yeah. Nice piece.
Friend One: Very nice.
Friend Two: He would have liked it.
Friend One: That he would have. That he would have.
Friend Two: Did you see that other obituary about the banana wholesaler who actually slipped on the—
Friend One: Yeah. You couldn’t make that up!
Well, that’s about it, Lord.
Actually—as long as I’ve got You, let me just mention a few final ways for me to die that may or may not seem funny to You, depending on Your sense of humor.
I would rather be burned beyond all recognition than burned almost beyond all recognition, especially if the pictures are going to end up on the Internet.
If some kind of rare organism eats away at my body from the inside, please let it be microscopic. Or just slightly larger than microscopic. Let’s put it this way: if it’s big enough to have a face, that would be too big.
Thank You for Your time, Lord.
(Also: Ted Lange. That’s the name of the actor who played the bartender on “The Love Boat” whose name I couldn’t remember before. I Googled him for You, Lord. Which has got to count for something, right?)