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If I Die Young and Freakishly December 23, 2010

Posted by Onely in Food for Thought, Just Saying., Secret Lives of the Happily Single, single and happy.
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My dad’s coworker died at 36 of a heart attack in his car after work. Security guards found him after noticing the car sitting, engine on, in a nearly-empty parking lot. People–me included–told the story in sad whispers: “In the car. With the engine on.”

If I die under odd circumstances (“odd” defined as “not passing away in a bed while asleep with a spouse holding my hand”), I don’t want people to harp on the details in a shocked or pitying way. If I go, I go with no regrets. (Except maybe that I never visited Dick Proenneke‘s house, and that my computer is full of revolting first drafts.)

As a Oneler who currently lives alone (“alone” defined as “with two cats”), any of my potential death scenarios–tripping on a cat on the stairs, choking on roast beef, cracking my skull on the bathtub–takes on an extra dollop of “Oh, geez, that’s terrible”: my body would inevitably have to lie there alone for a while before my office sends the dogs after me, or my mom calls the cops to find out why I haven’t phoned her in the last 24 hours to ask whether she thinks the two-week-old stroganoff is still good. Then someone would have to come and discover me, and the grapevine would vibrate with murmurs like, “And they had to break open the door! And there she was!”

Well, so what?

My cats may be hatching a plan to inherit my millions by strategically positioning themselves on the darkest step in the stairwell, but I love them anyway.  I don’t want my friends and family to feel a sad irony that something I love so much doomed me in the end. I want everyone to remember that I enjoyed every second with my spoiled little boyfriends (except, presumably, the very last one).

Same for choking on my grass-fed crock pot roast. I don’t want my loved ones–or obituary gawkers–to think, “If only she’d made veggie stir fry instead,” or “Well, she *was* watching 30 Rock at the time, so what do you expect?” I love my madness-free meat, and if it takes me out in the end, at least I’ll go while I’m sane.

Cracking my skull on the bathtub is more complicated, because chances are I’d be naked. In this instance, in addition to not wanting people to cluck regretfully at my clumsiness, I also don’t want them to pass judgment on my bare behind. My body is tough and miraculous, and I loved every one of those Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, especially the twelve-pack that I ate in the tub in 2007.

Love is risky. What you love can kill you. But it also keeps you alive.


Photo credit: Zen


1. Matt - December 23, 2010

Love this… especially the super-realistic picture. I feel like you’ve really indemnified yourself by putting your lack of regret on the record. Now I feel like I must also think up all the freakish ways I could die and ask people ahead of time to chill =)

2. Nicole - December 23, 2010

Love this (although of course not the idea of you in pain or distress!)

3. Eric Francis Coppolino - December 23, 2010

I am quite certain that the fear of dying alone is a principal reason people are obsessed with relationships. It is variously translated as “someone to grow old with,” “security,” etc. It is worth considering the role of death in our relationship values. In astrology, the marriage contract and death are handled in the same house — the 8th house, “Of Death, Dowry, The Substance of the Bride, &c”

4. Arlene - December 26, 2010

I am not sure if laughing is in order here, but that is what I am doing. I hope you don’t die soon, but if you do, I hope you do it while doing something you love, and that it hits you before you know it 🙂
My mother feared the refrigerator would fall on me when I lived alone. (I couldn’t figure out how that could happen) Your scenarios are more realistic.
Wishing you a long and happy life, and a fantastic 2011

5. eleanore - December 26, 2010

My single friends and I have calculated that if we die when we’re not dating someone, it’ll take 4 days before our bodies are found. Day 1: I’m just being irresponsible about not calling back/showing up. Day 2: They call and I don’t respond. Day 3: They start calling other people to see if they’ve seen/heard from me. Day 4: There I am…laying where I last was.


Matt - December 27, 2010

I think it might take longer for me, since I’m already notorious for not returning phone calls in a timely manner. Thankfully someone from work would probably wonder why I wasn’t there taking abuse, and try to get a hold of me =)

6. Critter - December 5, 2011

If I was to die at home I dont know when Id be found.I dont get visitors becuz Im alittle out of the way.One friend dont even like coming back where I live.People at work mite try finding me.If Im outside I reckon Id get eaten by a buzzard,crows or the dogs.I could slip and hit my head on a rock trying to cross the creek,fall off a roof ,thats happened once but I wasnt alone,or fall off a ladder with a chainsaw in my hand,or maybe when I get real old I mite just drop dead walking up the mountain.But this will not cause me to change the way I live.Iv lived with someone and now without.I like being without,surenuff.

7. Julie Vernon - November 28, 2012

I laughed not once, but several times throughout your tale! All that clucking about how we die is so, well…human. Fear of death is alive and well. I love how you’ve kept it so light and funny.

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