Sunday, October 30, 2011

Bathroom Monologue: “I’ve always wanted to die. Always.” –Natalie Cortez, The Seventh Victim (1943)

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I’ve always wanted to die. What could be grander than to pull away the veil? There are other grand things. Earning your first dollar, getting married, fighting on the side that wins the war – but those all pale in personal comparison to the end. You can’t top the end. Nothing gets to follow it.

It wouldn’t be a noose for me, though. No sitting the garage with the motor running. It’d be a waste of my only demise.

I took one of those tours of the Empire State Building. Went up near the top, to the wide room with all the windows. My plan was to find a door outside and leap into the world’s most famous skyline.

The skyline was my undoing. Or, my death’s undoing. Because you know what you see from the top of the Empire State Building? Story upon story of people’s work. Cement, brick and steel laid so men could deal, sell and swindle. The sheer quantity of life that goes on in just one adjacent building is intimidating. And I realized that no matter how many feet I fell per second, my impact would be negligible. All those active lives would keep marching towards much bigger deaths than mine. All mine would have over theirs was flash. I hate flash.

No, suicide simply wouldn’t do for me. It was too closed a circuit. Too petty for a grand thing. Nor could I hire someone to kill me. Then it’d be a two-person affair, still too closed a circuit. No, I wanted to die a real death, and since death is the end of life, I had to live a full one in order to receive a grand demise.

So I earned my first dollar. It’s still in my wallet, and will remain there when I hit the floor. I got married to a wonderful woman. We got divorced, which is understandable because Unitarians have always been too much for me, but being too much for me was the same reason I married her. And I got married a second time. I worked at the steel plant that supplied our military in three wars that we won. You can say we didn’t, but the privilege of being American is we always doing enough damage to feel like we couldn’t have lost.

And I bought a piece of the Berlin Wall on eBay. I was in Ohio when gay marriage was legalized, and actually held the camera for one of the first couples that proposed. I watched the last NASA space shuttle launch with my granddaughter.

She probably won’t be there when it comes. I don’t want to be surrounded by mourners who’ll leach the emotion. My death is going to be all mine. But it’s going to be amazing, not because of how many feet per second I fall, but because of how high I lived. How I cannot wait for it.


  1. You story has really made me look at Death in a new way. It's not the end. It's the climax of your life :).

    Great stuff as always.

  2. This is unexpectedly positive, considering how it starts.

    I really like the range of your writing, I never know what's coming each week.

    That's why I'll be back!

  3. Craig and Peter have really said it for me. I kind of wonder if you had Steve Jobs in mind when writing this… love/hate him or the products he launched, there's someone whose death got a lot of attention.

    Verification word: rehinge — sounds like that's what your MC did here, rehinged his life.


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