Arts & Culture » Juice

Dead calm



Face it. We're all going to die.

See? Who says Orlando Weekly doesn't bring you important news in a timely manner? I know this is a shocking piece of information, especially to those of you who drive like you think you're going to live forever, but it's true. We're all going to croak some day.

And don't come at me with "cryogenics." Suppose you have your head frozen and then some loathsome, stoned night watchman accidentally kicks the plug out of the freezer? Your face is going to look like a mid-November jack-o'-lantern. Not to mention the fact that you'll have to explain to The Guardians of The Light how come you're late.

Dying is something we all have to think about sometime. Who would want to live forever, anyway? Once you're 96 and unlikely ever to have sex or burritos again, what's to stick around for? Dollars to doughnuts, the thought, "Man, diapers and Boost! I hope this never ends!" never goes through anyone's head.

Grave diggin'

What brings this thought to mind is not some sudden, uncharacteristic depth or high-mindedness, but rather the recent spate of Dead Celebrity Fire Sales. Recently we've seen the personal effects of Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley sold for outrageous amounts of money, and more distantly, things that once belonged to Princess Diana and President and Mrs. Kennedy. People want to own the stuff that belonged to their icons and will pay gobs of money for them.

And while it's perfectly understandable that people want to hold onto those things, you have to feel a little empathy for the dead. There is an argument that once you become famous, your privacy is a moot point: People have the right to judge and haggle and diddle over your life and possessions because you are public property. This hardly seems fair. If a person is talented at something like acting or politics, instead of court reporting or insurance, and uses that talent, it's not really their fault that fame follows function. Marilyn certainly wanted to be famous, but how could she have known that decades after her demise, some guy named Tommy Hilfiger would end up owning her jeans? It's got to be weird knowing that some stranger has his hands in your pants -- and you're not even there to enjoy it.

Most of us will never have to worry about the guys from Christie's running around our houses putting price tags on our underwear. But it doesn't take fame to make you vulnerable to deep personal probing. All you have to do is croak, and next thing you know your collection of rumba panties is sitting out in the front yard on a card table. You don't have to be famous to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. Outrageous lack of fortune can find you humiliated just as easily. You'd think there would be literally enough dirt on you once you're dead and buried, but people will always be looking for more.

Everyone has some "What was I thinking?" moments. When you're about to pass on to glory, you should be reflecting on your happy life and the fun that awaits you, not thinking, "Sweet Jesus, what happened to that picture of me as a gladiator?"

Deceased and desist

As a corpse, you can't protect yourself. Even a really good ghost might not be able to scare the living away from wanting to wear the clothes and read the love letters of the dead. There are only a couple of things you can do to ensure that the loss of bowel control that is said to be everyone's final statement on this life is the most unsavory thing associated with your demise.

First, take any embarrassing impersonal articles in your home -- John Tesh CDs, creams for unwholesome illnesses, copies of Buttman magazine, membership materials for the Dr. Quinn fan club -- put them in a box marked "Stuff to give back to ...," and then write in the name of your most recent roommate or ex. That person will be left stammering in the doorway trying to convince your snickering flunkie, "It's not mine, I swear," and you will have gotten one-up on someone from beyond the grave. That's pretty cool.

Second, burn any poetry you wrote in high school. Trust me.

If this advice isn't enough, there is one other option: Just quit being embarrassed about anything. So what if you're discovered to have been a little weird, stupid, unbalanced, nasty or strange? What this will prove beyond a shadow of a doubt is that you're just like everybody else. If your life is fit for inspection across the board, you may not actually have been living it. Now that's something to worry about.


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