Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Death becomes her?

The recent underwater death of "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin (Don't know who that is? Crikey!) has me pondering one of my favorite psychological issues: Mortality.

Irwin fell victim to one of those rules you pick up reading the kind of nonfiction I do: Water is dangerous.

A guy who wrestles crocodiles for a living gets killed by a stingray. By accident. This happens to almost nobody (unlike, say, those eaten by sharks).

So here's the thing, from my point of view, and I'm talking about life in general here, not the later Mr. Irwin.

I don't really care how I die. I'd like to die old, and in bed, and with a cute young blonde, but that's just a best-case scenario. I wouldn't mind dying a hero. Defending my family, saving a puppy, that sort of thing. There are, after all, decent ways to die.

The thing I really don't want to do is die in a way that makes people laugh at me after I'm gone.

You know the people this happens to. The Darwin Awards winners. The people who accidentally get crushed by the trees they're cutting down. The people who try to cross Interstates, drunk, at night and wearing black. And so forth.

There's one in the news every week. Somebody whose headline makes you laugh in the face of tragedy. ("Man killed by kitten," that sort of thing.) And I'm talking laughing at the victim, not with him. Because, after all, he can't laugh, he's dead.

You know, the late Civil War Maj. Gen. John Sedgwick, whose long and illustrious military career was overshadowed by his last words: "Don't worry, men. They couldn't hit an elephant at this dist..."

And speaking of last words, in the same vein, I don't want mine to be, to quote someone I know who didn't die, "Ow. Fuck."


jin said...

Yeah...I can see the headlines over here:

"Pastry chef burnt to a crisp while torching a ramekin of creme brulee....."


"Pastry chef slips while delivering a four tier wedding cake & hits her head on the corner of a marble butcher block. She died instantly covered in buttercream....."

I can think of way too many embarrassing death scenarios. I think that may be unhealthy. If I have nightmares you're in trouble!!!

Freak Magnet said...

I've pretty much accepted, and probably most people agree, that I will die in a car crash. No heroism, no embarassment, just a senseless car crash.