Monday, July 11, 2005
The Dark Chuckle
Early this morning I read a story about a fellow who slipped on a subway platform and fell in front of a train. He was, of course, pulverized with extreme prejudice. Because of the myriad miracles of modern technology, these nasty tales are brought to our attention at the speed of light every single day. It's not so much withering as it is numbing. Still, the ignominious end of this guy struck a nerve with me. I could have easily have met such an end countless times, with trains, buses, inexplicably angry people with weapons, etc.
But there is always an asshole nearby who says something to make it worse. If I'm killed in such an accident I really hope that nobody sees it. And if it has to be seen by anyone, let it be a poet or a painter or some such gentle soul. Perhaps not a musician, though. I wouldn't want the end of me put to music by a band like Gwar or 'N Sync (that about covers both extreme ends of the spectrum). More than likely, however, the comment on the nightly news will be made by a rube, yokel, jackass, or boob.
The witness to the afformentioned tragedy was, I think, a yokel...it's tough to say. And what did he say? "It's really horrible, he never saw it coming." I'm harshly critical of what this guy said for a couple of reasons. For one, it's a cliche. And for such a unique and horrible tragedy! I can tolerate banality as much as the next fat person, but some moments require thoughtful consideration. It reminded me of the scene in the movie "Titanic," when Kathy Bates says, "You don't see that every day" as she witnesses the epic demise of a big, floating thing with lots of people on it. I'm the only person in the theatre who laughed at that line in that context, which doesn't speak highly of me. But I digress.
And isn't it a blessing that he never saw it coming? I'm happy for him. Otherwise, his last words might have been, "What the f---!" Or perhaps he would have just said, "Fuck!" Personally, I'm working on something to say in advance, in case something happens. My favorite is, "Life's too short for fat-free pretzels!" That may be too long, though. One word is practically best. Something mysterious like "Rosebud!" would be good. Or British, "My word!" Perhaps an ode to "The Simpsons" would be most appropriate; you can't do much better than, "D'oh!"
But like everything else, it all comes back to movies, as in "Caddyshack." How can you beat a guy yelling, "Rat farts!" just before getting hit by lightning. And that may be the best route to go. To provide one final chuckle, albeit a dark one, to the shocked and horrified crowd.