Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tough Subject

Tough Subject

A conversation with myself.

I want to talk about being dead.

Fat chance. Fuggeeettaboutiddt.

The problem is getting someone to listen, I think.

You think? You think.

Of course, I can talk to myself…

Oh, you can talk to yourself about anything. Especially if you have one of those Blue Tooths.

Yeah. What’s the origin of, “blue-tooth,” anyway? I mean, think of it: “Hold on, I can’t hear you, let me adjust the blue tooth in my ear.”

I don’t know. But talk about that, why don’t you.

Yeah. If somebody hears you talking to yourself about being dead, and nobody is around to hear what you intend to say on the subject, there are self-limiting rules other people have to operate under so they don’t come under suspicion that they brought the subject up.


Yeah. Because if you kill yourself, they will be guilty of something to do with it. Watch…whatever.

Is that why you think nobody talks about being dead?

No. That is why nobody talks about his being overheard talking to me about my being dead.

Well, accept it. Don’t talk about being dead.

So, what? So, nobody talks about being dead? I lose before I start?

All right, try it. Bring it up.

I will. “Hey, want to talk about being dead?”


That’s it? End of story? I can’t get in a, “No, listen, wait a minute, I got this idea that…”

“Did you hear me? I said, ‘No.’ I don’t want to talk about being dead.”

“Well, I have some really cool ideas, and I just thought I would point out that…”


The man doesn’t want to know what I’m pointing out.

Yeah. That’s what I’m saying. This could be the wimpiest guy you know, too. The guy to whom you could talk for 45 minutes about tying a double knot in your shoelaces, or putting too much milk on your Cheerios, or the meaning of Eternity. But, about being dead? He says: “What are you, crazy?”

“No. I just want to have a simple conversation…”

“No. No. You really are crazy. Go away.”

So, no matter what I want to say, no matter what, relatively exciting new idea I have conjured about it, or thoughts of making it creative, or uplifting, or even fashionable, nothing gets past or overrides the fact that I actually want to talk about being dead. I’m considered morbid, maybe even depressed. Probably a danger to myself.

Well, yes.

Nobody even wants to be seen with me, talking about it, not on a boat; not on a skiing trip; not while robbing a 7-Eleven Store; not even at a funeral. In fact, I bet, especially not at a funeral.

“But, aren’t you curious about…”


Nobody even believes I am actually curious about it. They think it’s an introduction to a joke they don’t want to hear. I could be losing sleep over it, probably more than I lose sleep over whether I took the garbage to the curb; or left the keys in the ignition of the car; and I really want to know what my friends think about it.
“No.” I get.

You know, many years ago, I worked part time at an ice cream distribution plant in North Lindenhurst with Henry Patrick McArdle. He sold insurance (which forbade him from working at the ice cream distribution plant. But he had seven kids, so he excused himself, and made up his own rule. For that alone, I would have followed him anywhere.). He had, “tricks,” for selling insurance. Like, he never discussed the life insurance policy’s premium with a teacher.

Hah? The premium?

Yeah. The amount you pay. He discussed the money that would come out of the policy in 150 years; or, the maximum amount the policy would cover the customer if he lost his leg on the job, say, teaching math to trapeze artists; or what the policy would be worth when the owner’s great grandchildren cashed it in; but he stayed away from the premium.


Because teachers were known by insurance people to be the cheapest customers on the planet.

Really. You were a teacher. Your minor was education.

I hear you. I’ve been conscious of tips ever since.

Anyway, he said, “Go to a bar with a happy hour: half-price drinks and free food from 4pm until 7pm. Teachers, as far as the eye can see. All teachers. At 7:15, they’re gone.”

I tested it out. Wow. It was years before I took food at a buffet. My in-laws in Florida were insulted.

But, similarly, McArdle said, he never discussed death, near-death, fear of death, nothing remotely about death, with an Italian.

But, isn’t that the whole point: insurance.

The business was life insurance. One mention of death, and the sale was history.
“What?” The head of the household would say. “Who you talking about? Me? Death? Get out of my house. Death? Look at this, here. I’m sitting here, in my house, and this guy is talking about me being dead. Minque. In my house!”

So, I don’t even approach the subject with my Italian friends.


I don’t get it. Here we are, spending a gazillon, bazillion dollars over the last century to find out what took place, or has taken place, or might be about to take place, 300-million-light-centuries to the left (?) of Zebulon. No scientist alive, or in uteri, or in our collective imaginations will discover it; or the other thing they’re after, the exact start-up date of the universe—like March 26,th two trillion years ago, times 12, minus a day or two—and we don’t want to talk about death.


Death, which no matter you shake it, is imminent, has already happened a bazillion, gazillion times; last fall, alone; in this county, alone; to leaves, earwigs and snakes, alone; to fish, communists and The Taliban; to paranoid schizophrenics, retired Jewish cops, and yet-to-be-designated Saints, alone; all over, every day, all day, and we don’t want to talk about it?

Right. Now, how about those Mets?


  1. Well, talking about the Mets is almost like talking about death; a slow, painful, can't the season just end, death.

  2. So.. let's talk about that thing..
    the unmentionable.. death...
    Seriously.. is there anything more natural and certain then death? I actually think our preoccupation with it is just as harmful to us as our preoccupation with the Passion- in that we miss the whole point of "living"; by being way too consumed with the worrying about getting to the "dying".
    If I have learned nothing from this up-down roller coaster of a life I have been on..
    it is that NOTHING is of greater consequence.. then that of wasting time worrying about how this will all end.
    I am thinking it is mostly because my own upbringing was so frought with losing so many beautiful people in my life at such an early age- (my Godfather, my first love at 19, my first baby, (still-born at 9 months;) my Mom, 2 months after my next child was born) It makes you so appreciate the value of life at a very early stage of your life..
    And I have found that God brings something very special to us to somehow get us through the tough times.. Its a good thing to look forward to.
    But its not that you get "accustomed" to losing them, you do, however, gain a different view on life and on life AFTER this one.
    My Mom used to ask me after my boyfriend passed away "Do you love him enough.. to let him go?"
    And my answer was always.. "No, Mom.. not yet" through many tears.
    But it wasnt UNTIL I learned to love him enough,( by his own example of love he left behind FOR me..) that I was finally able to find the peace I so longed for, and the life I felt cheated out of. It happened when he came back to me in a dream- looking beautifully normal.. and I asked him "Len, are you happy?"
    and he paused for a moment then, looking down as if REALLY thinking about it.. then he looked at me with these gorgeous ice blue eyes.. and he said so sincerely.. "Yes,baby, I AM happy.. I'm VERY happy.".. And when I awoke..
    I had the most beautiful sense of calm and peace.
    A couple of months later, my sister and his best friend had a baby boy.. And yes.. HE was the gift God gave back to all of us for the one he needed to take back for a bit. And this Lenny is a warm, brilliant, eloquent, loquacious, sociable, judicious, hard working, hard loving, genuinely caring about his kids and his job, being a devoted Dad and husband- and A High School principal of a school out in Eastport,
    He is a rare find- but also says he is motivated by a very special guardian angel.. His "Teen Angel"..
    They prove to us what God, & Jesus & Mary have told us all along.. the LOVE lives.. keeps on happening.. and fills these burgeoning souls with so much love that one day they will just burst around the hearts that are so deign to protect!So..look to the light, and not th darkness..
    no need for you to descend into th netherworlds..
    come straight out.. share some wine, share some talk,, tell us all.. "Peace be with you.."
    That we will KNOW you truly did have the key to every door.. and now the heart and soul to be TRULY free.. :)
    Youre foing great.. waiting with baited breath for the next saga of this kalaidescope life of yours.. and the fascination I have that you invite ALL of us to join you.. You are one of my favorite of God's great gifts :)
    with great regards,
    g. carey-
    finnegan lets begin -yet again :)
    While there is still time.. get together at the old Irish Pub funerals- and have an old fashioned mock-up wake to Paddy McGee as he stands propped up in the corner.. grippin' 'i pint 'o Guiness..
    and make the list NOW of the 5 People you will meet in Heaven- One of mine is to be Dolores, I hope shes not busy that day- I would love to show her my salem :)
    To sum up.. take that hhiiiiisssinsidious laughter of yours.. and use it often.. your eyes light up with thoughts,, and even with distractions.. as they work the room.. and marvel at the even-more freedoms you have now, then ever before.
    What a wonderful life.. as they all hang on your words..
    the stuff legends are made of :)