A motivational speaker once told me that it’s important to set goals if you hope to accomplish anything in life. He then asked me if I had set any goals for myself. I told him that my life’s ambition was to light myself on fire and die a gruesome death in a botched attempt to roller skate down the Eiffel Tower wearing nothing but a jockstrap. He didn’t quite understand the reasoning behind this lofty goal. That’s because he didn’t understand the idea of dying in style.
We’re all going to die eventually. It’s better to go out in a blaze of glory than it is to slowly rot away in a retirement home as your brain devolves into a pile of useless mush. Think about it. Would you rather be known as the guy who died in a knife fight or as the guy who died mumbling incoherent tales of his childhood while nurses wiped his crusty ass? Maybe you prefer the latter, but history has shown that dying with style has some serious perks.
It’s rumored that Elvis Presley died while sitting on a toilet. I guess this shouldn’t be much of a surprise. Elvis always did have an immaculate sense of style. After all, this is the same man who brought the sequined jumpsuit and blubbery beer gut to the forefront of the fashion world. The Pelvis was no fool. He knew how to live and he knew how to die: with his pants down.
As glorious as Elvis’ swan song may have been, I think it’s safe to say that he hung around a bit too long. He was already well on his way to becoming a running joke when the Grim Reaper intervened. The result of Presley’s tardy exit from the world was a disappointing yield in overrated-icon-who-will-be-idolized-for-the next-few-decades-due-to-an-early-death bonus points.
That’s in stark contrast to other popular figures like Kurt Cobain, Tupac Shakur, JFK, James Dean and Jonathan Brandis. These people didn’t live long enough to become embarrassments. That’s the key. You think it’s a coincidence that John Lennon is more popular than Paul McCartney? Lennon got out with a shred of dignity while McCartney went on to sing “Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time.”
There’s something unfortunate about the ravages of old age. They can turn the hippest, smartest and most innovative people into wrinkly bundles of senility. I suspect that this is why post-mortem popularity tends to favor those who perished while they were still young and pretty. We’re left to wonder what could have been instead of being left to witness the inevitable fall from grace that most folks experience as they grow too old to be cool and beautiful.
It was with this in mind that I first decided to die in a fiery roller skating accident. The only problem was my lack of celebrity. In order to achieve icon status, one must first be a celebrity of some sort. Knowing that I needed to cultivate a fan base, I decided to start writing columns for this paper. Within weeks, I had attracted dozens of readers who reluctantly tolerated my drivel each Thursday for lack of a better entertainment option. According to my calculations, this made me about as popular as actor Buzz Belmondo from the television series “Out of This World.” I was ready to die in style.
I promptly booked a flight to France and scaled the Eiffel Tower. I tied on my roller skates, set myself on fire and began my descent. Within seconds, I was lying on the ground in a pile of my own broken bones. As my consciousness began to fade, I decided that I’d succeeded in my quest for a stylish demise. Soon my image would be on posters on dorm room walls across the world. I cracked one last smile as everything went black.
Two months passed. I woke up and noticed that I was surrounded by nurses. Was this heaven? No. I’d survived the accident and was now paralyzed from the neck down. Right then I realized that I had acted foolishly and that being old, ugly and happy might not be so bad after all. I’d like to elaborate a bit on this discovery, but I should probably get going. My nurse needs to wipe my crusty asshole.
Daily Nexus columnist Nick Pasto recommends dish detergent for those pesky dingleberries.