Saw a movie the other night where Denzel Washington demanded kidnappers give him Proof of Life that the person he was trying to ransom was still alive.
Still alive. Or as Monty Python would have it “Not quite dead yet.” Has a nice ring to it, yes? But what if we haven’t been kidnapped or Denzell Washington is wreaking vengeance in some other movie? How then do we prove we are not quite dead?
Not talking about the old hippie doobie dodge of “Oh wow, man, maybe all of this is just a dreeeeem. Like, man, everything is so groooooovy and I’m so hungry I could eat a raw VW micro bussssssss.”
It used to be if you thought you were dead you could look for your name in the obituary page of the newspaper—that is, when we still had newspapers. Today you can Google your allegedly dead ass with a Boolean search operator (they make excellent dates) plugging in “Your name AND dead OR dead-more-or-less.” (We all know people who are dead from the chin-dimple up but who are still alive, so to speak, from the barbed-wire neck tat down.)
Amusingly, sometimes proof of death is easier to find than proof of life. You can ask for a copy of your death certificate at the county clerk’s office and they will give it to you without thinking twice. In some states, without thinking once. But ask for your “still alive certificate” and the clerk slowly moves a foot over to the loon alarm and stomps it good. It might be simpler to just check out the cemetery, the ultimate plot against breathing.
Life being so doggone hard, it’s amazingly easy to fool yourself into thinking you’re dead when you’re not. Recently I saw a guy standing in front of the frozen french fry case at the Giant. His head kept nodding just slightly. It wasn’t as if he’d been ordered by the mean supply sergeant to get crinkle-cut foo foos and when he found them his body rewarded him with a little shot of dopamine.
This was no crinkle-cut dopamine nod. This reeked of how the hell did I end up here in front of the frozen food. I was supposed to be president by now, and some loser shlump would be buying my vegetables…
Ten minutes later I came back and he was still there, head-a-bobble. Behind him stood a growing line of former presidents-to-be, each one not-to-beed along life’s heavily mined path and now waiting their turn to nod at cold, lifeless, foo foos.
…and I could have been a wealthy rock star but I foolishly used my guitar as a bat during a softball game at the company picnic when I was bombed and I never got a new guitar even though I’d learned the G, C and D7 chords and was working on the F and I could sing ‘Oobla di, oobla dah’ and all that talent went down the toilet, speaking of which I’m no longer in command of my bladder. Yup, I’m a goner.
If this had been a movie, Denzell Washington would have told the kidnapper to pound salt. He wasn’t wasting $10 million on some whining flopper.
The moral: if you are still alive but don’t always feel it, you need to start wearing one of those bracelets that says “DO NOT EMBALM.” Make sure it has your significant other’s phone number on it, because if there’s one thing that can bring you back from the sim dead it’s the cold, crinkly whisper in your ear of a single wake-up-and-smell-the-lighter-fluid word: cremation.
©Patrick A. McGuire and A Hint of Light 2013-2015, all rights reserved.