Thursday, February 19, 2009

Death in Thailand

This is from a couple of years ago, when I was still optical-illusion-young as a Peace Corps volunteer:

Peace Corps had advised us to avoid the southernmost three provinces of Thailand at all costs due to the threat of sectarian violence. Terrorists is what we’d heard, I don’t know myself but I’d heard all about the cops and teachers getting shot and/or blown up, usually by someone “riding pillion” on a motorcycle, and some local people had experienced misadventure at the hands of the Thai military. Honestly, it all sounded good to me, death at the hands of terrorists that is, very romantic, and certainly it seemed to be my best shot at fame. All of my descendents for all time would recall with pride old Frederick who was killed by terrorists in Southeast Asia while serving as a fifty seven year old Peace Corps volunteer who had left his comfortable lawyer job in Los Angeles to devote himself to helping the poor, who then killed him. I’m sure that for several years anyway people would Google one thing or another and come across the story and most of them would think the whole thing was admirable. I would almost have paid to set it up.

The manner of one’s death is very important. Consider, if you die in a car accident, people will always tend to blame it on you. Oh, he must have had a sneezing fit, or, even better, he was always looking at some girl’s ass instead of the road. If you die from a heart attack, you shouldn’t have let yourself get that fat. Lung cancer? You dirty smoker, you. I think the best way to go is in a commercial jetliner crash, the bigger the plane the better. Not only is it fate, pure and simple, but it also tells people that you had places to go and the money to get there. Poor guy, I guess it was his time.

Well, whatever. I can’t decide whether I want an open casket or not. Closed, with an attractive photograph nearby is probably best. Embalmed, definitely, I don’t want no damn surprises. I know I want a funeral, and I know I want it catered. I think I’ll be wanting a band, too. Stand the coffin off in a corner, that’s a great idea I got from a Spike Milligan book I read one time. And please cremate me as soon as possible. I mean, give away some organs but please, I don’t want to be anybody’s science experiment down the line. Anybody who gets buried will eventually be revisited to make room for an overpass, or give physical evidence for some reason, or maybe even just for fun. Like for a TV show. “This was an average man in every way, the poor dental work indicates that he was a member of the lower working class, now let’s see what the facial reconstructionist has to say. Oh, he was ugly as well.”


Rory Cripps said...

JEEZ FRED! I'm sorry but I can't stop laughing! Whether you're serious or not, this is one of the funniest things that I've read in a long time. HA! and a double HA! If you're more than half-serious, then my apologies . . . and if you're not, my congratulations!

fred c said...

I did want it to be funny, and thanks for laughing, but I do think it's true.

It's human nature at a funeral to look for reasons that this particular death could not happen to you. "Luckily, I don't smoke . . . I'm not an alcoholic . . . I'm a good driver . . . I eat whole grain foods . . ." etc.

But the plane crash, all they can say at that funeral is, jeez-louise, I fly too (unless you were on some African budget airline, then you just got what you asked for).

And killed by terrorists while I was still a volunteer just for holding an American passport? Honestly, how else am I going to die a hero?

Anonymous said...

I always thought the worst way to die was to croak on the john, like Elvis, with your pants down around your ankles. How can the people at your funeral not giggle a little as they gaze upon your corpse?

fred c said...

That would be bad, but at least you'd be dead. My own fear is drowning in water cold enough to induce suspended animation. Like they drag people out of the ice water after a half hour or something and revive them. How long does it take to die? And what happens in the meantime?