“With the lights out / It’s less dangerous / Here we are now / Entertain us.” — Nirvana
April 8, 2019
If you are reading this, you are too late. I am as dead as a doornail. Gone. Chances are, it was the lights-out event we talked about last month (“Truman Talks: Getting Older, Part 3,” Mar. 27, 2018). Chances are My Other Half wasn’t there. That, or the Bee Gees let us down. If none of that applies, then it is at least 2070 and I have taken a look around at who is left and at what medical technology can offer and decided to join the choir everlasting, except there is no choir. Is anything everlasting? Can I endure, at least?
As a mostly fully realized grown-ass adult, I vouchsafe that a little remains from my time on Earth. Things financial will need taking care of, and there are the pesky issues of death certificates and funeral arrangements to be made. Happily, I have mandated a simple funeral involving a gospel choir, international eulogy givers, and a headstone bearing the words “What you looking at?” and that my worldly goods and chattels go to two people, if they are still alive. Failing that, everything goes to the American Society for Retired Wrestling Midgets and Dwarves. Having held a craven aversion to little people my whole life, it is the least I can do.
For sure, the smell of my cologne will linger a while; a strand of my still-voluminous hair will doubtless be swept from a floor; my clothes will hang around until closet space needs making; my books will need careful consideration before they are scattered among those who will be grateful; and then there are the countless online subscriptions to be canceled. All of which will account for a few months, tops.
I am a father – always will be or have been. That counts for something. My DNA has been passed along, if that is how it works. I have read that joy and trauma can pass through the strings of DNA from one generation to the next, so our progeny truly are a part of us. Assuming my kid passes on their genetic code, I will endure in a physical sense. What do we leave in the world is the big question for me. The sound of my voice — or the weird-sounding guy I hear on recordings of my voice — is the shit everyone has had to put up with this whole time.
With no little hubris but simply a sense of the semi-permanency of the published word, I will endure through all I have written. Yes, the audience is small, but the following is fervent. Stories last, I have to believe. The stories, tales, and rhetoric I was paid to spout. No! The stories, tales, and rhetoric I spouted and, through some verbal terpsichore, I convinced others to pay me for. More than this are the stories passed down through the family — the oral tradition. I have been availed of tales of the wit and derring-do of my paternal grandfather and his very many brothers. Some of these tales are passed to my offspring, and they will pass along fewer still, yet some will endure. My life to date has many story-worthy episodes, some of which I can be sure have been passed along in various forms. Damn! I hope I got all the good stuff out there before the lights went out, for they surely did. I felt something fleetingly. You could call it pain or relief or just good ol’ fashioned for-fuck’s-sake disappointment that now was the time. I mean, I just wasn’t quite ready. So long as I wasn’t found with my John Thomas in hand, I probably went out on top, right?
So that is it. I have written my last chapter. You should know that I died hoping others would fail to stave off the compulsion to write good and bad in extremis about my life and me.
“When you walk through a storm / Hold your head up high / And don’t be afraid of the dark.” — Gerry and the Pacemakers by way of Rodgers and Hammerstein