Sunday, January 3, 2010

Bathroom Monologue: Responses to Check Out Time

I don’t know. It’s always been in me. Back in 12th grade this kid used to insult me every Precalc class. Berated my weight, the way I talked, that I didn’t watch the sports he liked. got leukemia. One day he came in and before even sitting down started yelling at me about how ugly my beard was. Middle of the year he disappeared. He was diagnosed with leukemia. Near graduation the Precalc class was full of rumors that he’d died. Girl who sat behind me every day leaned in to tell me with a somber expression, and I responded, “Good.” He’d been asshole! Why was I supposed to be sad? I was never going to run into him again, unless it was in an afterlife, and should be the same dick there that he was here, and he happens to re-die there and go to a post-afterlife, I’ll be happy again!

That hasn’t changed. When somebody I hate dies, I don’t suddenly revere them. It’s not even people I hate. Loved George Carlin’s early albums, but that dude made fun of JFK, Abbott and Costello just for being dead. He had a 12-minute bit on graphically funny ways to execute the death penalty. Don’t shoot me a look for laughing when the fucker dies!

I mourn, and not only for people familiar to me – I get that we project onto famous strangers, and even unfamous strangers. I felt the pang when Aleksandhr Solzhenitsyn died. I felt the pang when I walked over a dead rat in the road, flies eating its eyes. The mourning mechanism is in me. It’s just not always switched on, and there is no manual switch. I don’t think I’m alone in this, and I don’t think it’s healthy to pretend you’re sad, or at a level of response to a death you’re not. No somber cafeteria is actually populated by everyone struck in the identical state of desiring silence. There’s social pressure that may retard healing even more than seeing someone celebrating while you’re grief-stricken.

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