Death Be Not Proud
Teddy sniffing glue, he was twelve years old. Fell from a roof on East 29. Cathy was eleven when she pulled the plug on 26 reds and a bottle of wine. Bobby got leukemia, fourteen years old looked like 65 when he died. He was a friend of mine.---the late Jim Carroll, from People Who Died
I don’t watch CSI or CSI: Miami. Could I afford HBO, I wouldn’t watch Six Feet Under either. Hated Night Shift, Weekend at Bernie’s and Night of the Living Dead. Mainly because all of them feature deceased persons in prominent roles. And I don’t take kindly to the dearly departed.
Why, you ask? For openers, call them corpses, cadavers or stiffs, but they all reek to high heaven. (Imagine how different The Sixth Sense would have been if the kid's signature line were, “I smell dead people.”) And once the mortician gets done with them, they never bear much resemblance to their former selves. Whenever they’re present, people grow all hushed and reverent. Moreover, live persons lie through their teeth when corpses are lying around. When’s the last time you heard a completely candid eulogy? Whitney Houston’s interview with Diane Sawyer was more honest.
That’s not all. Stiffs are so rigid they make Al Gore seem limber and relaxed. They’re slovenly and seldom make a meaningful contribution to conversations unless it’s a seance. In which case charlatans are bilking loved-ones out of thousands. Cemeteries they loll about in waste valuable real estate. Funeral processions tie up traffic. The deceased spawn crimes from necrophilia to grave-robbing.
Of course I jest lest I break down in tears. It’s some kind of defense mechanism I use to deal with a topic I find most touchy and disturbing.
You see, I like The Basketball Diaries’ Mr. Carroll have also seen an inordinate amount of untimely death and mayhem among my associates and acquaintances. It started when my best friend Billy and I were involved in a fatal car crash at age 16. His pulse stopped on my lap. Three years later, my new sidekick Peter got shot dead by his own brother. Dave fell off a fishing trawler and drowned. Amy died much like Sonny Bono in Vermont. Ali got beaten to death and thrown in a sewage treatment pond. Sandra’s head struck a telephone pole as she hung out of a car window, gone. Frank hung himself in despair. In a crack-induced stupor, Diane stumbled in front of a bus in New Orleans. Michelle got strangled by a water-skiing rope in a freak accident. My soccer teammate Sarah perished of a heart attack on the sideline after securing victory by scoring two goals. Nigel slept through a fire that swept through his house. Several others overdosed versus suicide; sometimes the ME is hard pressed to distinguish. And my dad, an incomparably brilliant man who succumbed to cancer in his prime.
My clique’s surviving members’ progeny hasn’t fared any better. Hopefully it’s not one of those sins of the fathers deals, but who really knows? All I do know is that nihilism isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Whew! BITTER! And YOU"RE stll alive. Go figure!
by nancy at December 7, 2002 9:20 PM
Yeah, sounds a little shellshocked. That's a lot of death in immediate associates and family for one person.
I've been lucky, only one funeral in the past 10 years, and that was a grandmother who lived to her mid eighties... That in itself was enough to put me off the dead people as humour and/or props for awhile.
Although I have to admit I found weekend at Bernies funny at the time (I was about 16 when it came out)...
by Jason at December 8, 2002 1:14 AM
That is some funny stuff.
"Six Feet Under" is NOT a good show, so you're not missing anything there.
My problem with people who die is that they always decide to croak when I'm extremely busy.
by douchenation at December 15, 2002 2:58 PM
Life can be so morbid, yet so beautiful. Your article touches home for myself, I have lost a lot of people close to me by some tragic accidents or suicide. I have to say that I did like Six Feet Under though, especially the last episode. I thought the way it closed was the best I have ever seen. I do agree that most of the shows were a bit hard to get through though. As far as Jim Carroll, I read one of his books then saw the movie Basketball Diaries after that, and his life was like the life of most beautiful souls, over too soon.
Peace to ALL.
by Michelle at August 26, 2005 7:42 PM