By Mark Rosenthal
For years, I have harbored a dirty, little secret. A filthy, tiny secret. A disgusting, minuscule secret.
I will probably die.
I know what you are thinking. “What manner of madness is this!? You can’t die! We still haven’t gotten your thoughts on currency manipulations in foreign markets!” Fear not, noble reader. My thoughts on that subject were written long ago, and have been kept in a tungsten lock box to be opened only upon my demise. Also in said lock box:
- A copy of Europe’s Wings of Tomorrow (the album that DOESN’T have “Final Countdown” on it)
- A gold coin imprinted with twin snakes (for Charon the Ferryman)
- A photo of myself dressed as Meat Loaf (for the shits and/or giggles of all my afterlife friends).
At the time of this writing, I am 34 years of age. I am overweight. I smoke half a pack of cigarettes daily (but I’m cutting down, I swear). I treat all-you-can-eat buffets as mandatory challenges to my testicular fortitude. Let us face facts: I’ve had a good run. Everything from here on out is gravy. Also: I drink gravy.
If I make it to 40 with all my original parts, I will consider that a pretty significant defeat of God. If I am not more machine than man by 40, that would be the equivalent of dunking on God, hanging on the rim too long, getting T’d up and then clapping really annoyingly while he shot his free throw. For all you non-sports fans, it would be as if I built a time machine, went back to 1969, and released Abbey Road before The Beatles, then clapped really annoyingly while they shot their free throw.
Not that it would help. Everyone knows John was the smart one, Paul was the cute one, Ringo was the funny one, and George was the 97% career free throw shooter. He was also the first Beatle to dunk in concert. True story.
Returning to my point: when I die, my body will have to be disposed of. As a rule, society generally doesn’t allow bodies to just pile up. Thanks a lot, Plagues. The real question is how? How should my former flesh vessel be taken care of? I’ve thought about this at length, because I like to be prepared and, more importantly, I had already written the title to this piece. And frankly, I refuse to believe there are corners I cannot write myself out of. Take that, intersecting points.
As such, here are my preferred methods of corpse disposal. I know this seems ghoulish, but remember: it’s MY body, and believe me when I say I will treat it with the utmost respect.
1. CREMATE ME AND PUT MY ASHES IN PEPPER SHAKERS
Simple. Elegant. Classy. This is the “velvet smoking jacket” of body disposal scenarios, by which I mean it pairs well with a Cohiba Esplendido and a snifter of 20-year Calvados.
First, dump my body in a fire. Any fire will do, really. Sure, you could spend ALL THAT MONEY and have a REAL Funeral Director toss me in a REAL crematory, but I’m not fancy. I don’t put on airs. Any actively burning fire is acceptable. Once my ashes have been secured, simply divide the remains into 2 Mil resealable bags, or “coke baggies.”
After that, it’s as simple as eating breakfast at Denny’s or lunch at Denny’s or dinner at Denny’s and depositing a small amount of ash in the nearest pepper shaker at Denny’s. Make sure to shake it up a little, so I’m thoroughly mixed in with the pepper. Voila! My dying wish is fulfilled! And all it cost you was a meal at Denny’s. I recommend the Moons Over My Hammy®!
Seriously: if you do this at an IHOP, I will haunt the shit out of you.
2. DUMP MY BODY IN AN ACTIVE VOLCANO
Extreme! Aggro! Assiduous! This is the Point Break of body disposal scenarios, by which I mean it will be directed by a strong female in Hollywood and then pointlessly remade fifteen years later.
In this scenario, it is important that I am NOT cremated ahead of time. This is not to be a scattering of the ashes. This is to be an entire body dumping. I want my whole, unspoiled body (assuming I haven’t been mauled by pandas, of course) dropped from the sky into a bubbling cauldron of magma.
Don’t be a dickhole and drop me on a dormant volcano. I’m not paying you to drop me on a cold ass mountain. What payment, you ask? Look behind your ear. Why, what in the world could that be? It’s a SHINY NEW NICKEL! Now that payment is rendered, seriously, don’t be a dickhole. Find a wide open pit of lava and drop me in.
Seeing as commercial airlines would likely scoff at opening any part of a moving plane to allow my body to be dropped, you’ll probably need to requisition a flying contraption in an extralegal matter. I recommend stealing a helicopter. If years of playing Grand Theft Auto have taught me anything, it’s that if you hide long enough or spray paint your vehicle, the military will just forget you existed and go home.
Quick reminder: when I die it will be the future. How far ahead, I cannot say, but be prepared for the existence of Sky Police or Jetpack S.W.A.T. Teams or dragons. Also, please make sure that nastiness with the panda does NOT happen. I would prefer not to have to explain that I was killed by an evolutionary dead end.
3. BURY ME IN A BALSA WOOD COFFIN
We made it to the titular death scenario! Congratulations! By making it this far, you’ve won a copy of our home game: this very article you are holding with your eye gaze! Winner, winner, chicken dinner!*
This is the “comfortable shoes and movement clothes” of body disposal scenarios, by which I mean everything to follow can be applied to both body disposal and musical theatre auditions.
Everything here is pretty straightforward: instead of building my coffin from the finest of mahogany, construct it from the cheapest of balsa wood. Then bury it as shallow as legally allowed.
I’m a firm believer in the upcoming battle of Man V. Zombie. I’m also a firm believer that despite my girth, lack of athletic ability, and complete lack of martial weapons prowess, I will be able to hold my own against the hordes of the undead. However, if I happen to die before said apocalypse, I would like to be able to serve Team Zombie to the best of my abilities. That means having an easily escapable coffin and minimal amounts of dirt to claw my way out of. Nobody wants to be the last zombie out of the ground in an Undead Uprising. All the good brains will be eaten. All I will be left with is the people who rap out loud on the subway and probably a Real Housewife of WhoGivesAShitVille. Maybe two.
Good rule of thumb: make sure I am buried in one of those swanky cemeteries. Polished marble headstones, golden crypts, obsidian obelisks. The kind of place a beloved entertainer or an asshole who happens to be super duper mega rich might be interred. I’m serious on this. I will not budge. If I am seen bursting forth from the earthen crust of some low rent, no-mausoleum-having cemetery by all the cool zombies, I will just die.
I assume I will die with pants around my ankles, as I am not a fan of belts.
So there you have it. All the information required to dispose of my body should I perish. Be a doll and make sure one of my three final wishes are followed to a T. Or a Q. I’m not picky.**
*Reader will receive NO CHICKEN.
**PSYCHE! I’m MAD picky, son!
By Travis Marsala
… And I’m not happy about it either. I’ve had two swallows, a pigeon, and a canadian goose commit suicide against me this week. Poor birds. They have so much to live for. It’s a serious epidemic. Those are just the ones who DIED. I can’t even count the attempted bird suicides.
Just the other day, a full size albatross, you know that bird from the Rescuers Down Under movie? Well, one of those monstrosities of a bird flew through the window next to me! That’s right, through it! Shattered glass everywhere. Broke his neck - and NO! There weren’t two cute little mice riding on his back. I wish there were. I love that movie SO. MUCH.
That window, her name used to be Layla… Oh Layla… Sometimes I’d call her miss Bianca and pretend my name was Bernard. But she didn’t know that. She was so sweet. I suppose if I wanted to lose someone I love, it would be by an albatross crashing through her very being in a bloody mess of feathers and entrails.
Anyways, you’re not going to believe this, but I used to be a full grown man, I got turned into a pane glass window, and now I need help… before the next giant bird totally destroys a Walt Disney Animation Classic.
Oh… Oh… there go my kids. MARK! JESSICA! MAAAAAAAAAAARK! They can’t hear me! Why can’t they hear me?! Oh Jessica - you look so beautiful in your Rescuers Down Under themed velcro shoes… do they even know I’m gone? Why can’t they - whoa….
Did you see that?
Please tell me that wasn’t just me.
Oh God… please. You saw that shadow, too, right?
OH NO! IT’S AN ALBATROSS!
Help. I’m a Shattered Pane Glass Window…
As told to Adrienne Teeley
Guy Fieri here. You know why I’m upset. Yeah, it’s because of your behavior on Guy’s Grocery Games. Hannah, you’re a former friend and brilliant chef. Liza, you beat Bobby Flay on Beat Bobby Flay. Ron, you’re okay. I invited you all onto my show so America could watch you run through an enormous private grocery store, gathering ingredients to make a delicious dish. There’s plenty for everyone, but America loves it when you pull raw, prepackaged meat out of the hands of your opponents. That’s not what happened though, is it?
I can’t express the excitement I felt when I watched you all beeline it to the dry goods aisle. When you got closer to the pasta section, I genuinely thought things were about to get interesting. Three different pasta dishes! Who will make the best one? My heart sank when I saw Ron take a Velveeta Macaroni and Cheese box off the shelf, but I thought, “Well, I mean, it is Ron.” When Liza took a Velveeta Macaroni and Cheese box off the shelf, I was confused, but I had hope she could elevate the dish. Like… she did beat Bobby Flay. Then Hannah took a box of Velveeta Macaroni and Cheese off the shelf and it felt like someone gut-punched me right in the Hawaiian shirt.
Now this sounds petty, but I’m upset that nobody even bothered to use the Guy’s Grocery Games shopping carts to get the Velveeta Macaroni and Cheese. I love watching people careen around the store with their carts. I derived absolutely no joy from watching all three of you walk calmly to Aisle 6, grab a box of Velveeta Macaroni and Cheese, and return to your stations without incident.
Listen, I’m not a monster. Velveeta Macaroni and Cheese is really good. And I’m not denying how easy it is to prepare. Literally all you do is pour the orange cheese product from the silver pouch onto the pasta you’ve cooked. But that kind of meal has no place on Guy’s Grocery Games. You guys know that. Watching three people make Velveeta Macaroni and Cheese has got to be the most boring thing I’ve ever done on or off television.
Ron, you overcooked your macaroni. While that should be something that you’re past at this point in your career, I have to thank you. It was the only distinctive feature any one dish had over any of the other dishes.
This next issue is on me, but it doesn’t make it any less vexing. All of the plates on Guy’s Grocery Games are white. When you plated the Velveeta Macaroni and Cheese, it became impossible to tell which dish belonged to which contestant. Well, that’s not totally fair. Ron, we could tell which one you made. Regardless, it all made for incredibly boring visuals, and was really confusing for me and the judges.
The judges have to be applauded. They got really creative with synonyms for “cheesy shells.” Ron, obviously you were sent home due to your inability to properly cook pasta. Liza and Hannah, we could not distinguish your dishes enough to make a final decision, and to be honest we kind of lost track of whose plate was whose, so we called it a tie.
As you know, the final challenge is for the remaining contestant (contestants, in this case) to gather as many items from my grocery list as possible. Even though I was put off by your performance thus far, I wanted to make it easy. Every item on my list could be found in the produce section. I didn’t even add weird vegetables that you had to guess on. Just carrots, lettuce, and red russet potatoes. Imagine my dismay when you both walked your carts back to Aisle 6, evenly split up the remaining boxes of Velveeta Macaroni and Cheese, and returned to the front of the store. Well, obviously neither one of you got any extra money for this. You could have made serious cash by just throwing a few vegetables in your cart. I don’t understand how you both picked Velveeta Macaroni and Cheese over $20,000. Did Velveeta put you up to this?! Or do you just hate me?!!?!?!?!?!!!?!?
Due to our rigorous filming schedule, we don’t have time to reshoot this episode. It will air on June 17th at 9PM EST. You’ve tarnished my name and the sterling reputation of Guy’s Grocery Games. Maybe even that of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, too. I haven’t been so upset since 2003 when my best friend, the lead singer of Smash Mouth, accidentally dropped a plate of flamin’ hot chicken kabobs on my favorite pair of boardshorts. I hope you’re happy.
Guy Fieri, rolling out.
By Sarah James
Sometimes, as I’m feeding her or petting her or tossing one of her many toys, it occurs to me that my cat will die. I don’t encourage this thought but, alas: I can’t stop it. It’s like when you realize your grandparents have sex, or how many calories are in a steak burrito. I don’t want to think about these things which horribly makes it impossible not to think about them. I have a cat, and one day I won’t.
I can’t control it, but I still feel guilty for this thought. Not because I think the powers of my brainwaves will kill her (although my brainwaves have singlewavedly kept many airplanes in the air, so they are potent) but because I feel I should be enjoying every moment she is alive.
I know, logically, that most cats have many moments of life, but during my squishy impressionable youth I had a lot of bad cat luck. Two of my childhood cats died in rapid succession. I grew up thinking it was difficult to keep cats alive.
The first was my uncle’s girlfriend’s cat, and he gave it to us after she dumped him. He couldn’t bear to look at the cat anymore. Poor cat. It wasn’t her fault. Then she got feline HIV and died.
I remember telling my mom after Katy died that I’d seen her around the house. I remember seeing her round the corner from the hallway into the kitchen, her tail flicking then disappearing, but the time I caught up with her she was gone. My mom said I was imagining things, because Katy had gotten feline HIV and died. I don’t think I was imagining it. I have a good imagination and I like to think I could come up with something better than “my own dead cat.” I think that maybe because I was so young, I had a connection to another realm that has since closed off in my age. The other realm being cat heaven. I was four.
We got a cat to replace Katy and named him Maxwell. He died at eight months from feline leukemia. Someone at my school had human leukemia and she had gone bald, so I thought Maxwell would go bald too. He didn’t. He just died. I was six. I didn’t ever see Maxwell’s ghost. Too old.
When we got my next cat, I didn’t want to name her because I was scared she was going to die. This is why her name is Kitty. When Kitty lived over a year, I was shocked. I thought it was rare for a cat to live so long. I was ten.
Now I have another cat (Lucille) and I’ve learned that keeping cats alive is relatively easy. In my personal experience it is easier than plants. You give them food and a little box for poo and everything’s pretty chill.
But one day it won’t be. Someday Lucille will get feline pneumonia or feline Alzheimer’s and someone will recommend that I put her to sleep. That I end her suffering, or some other euphemism.
Like an embarrassing memory of calling your teacher “mom,” I dwell on this moment, this decision. Whether or not I’ll be able to make it. Whether or not I’ll want to be there when it happens. It will hurt so much to see this tiny stupid thing who has brought me so much love and joy pass away. Die. But she has done so much for me that I feel like I owe it to her to be there. But she doesn’t know she’s done so much for me, so do I?She doesn’t even know she’s going to die one day. She is a cat, so she doesn’t often grapple with existential crises. I have to grapple with them for her. I think about this decision and it makes me cry.
My cat is from Chicago, although I put her in a bag and moved her to Los Angeles almost two years ago. My cat is now better travelled than some of my relatives. One time I asked my mom if she thought Lucille missed Chicago. My mom said that she probably didn’t remember it at all. That made me cry, too. I’m less clear on why.
I think it’s because Chicago was so important to me that I want my cat to remember it too. This is very dumb. It’s not like we could talk about it. Our conversations are largely based on her requests for me to throw things. Also I remember Chicago. And that should be enough.
But then again, do I remember Chicago? “What’s the zip code associated with the card?” a seventeen-year-old cashier at Ann Taylor Loft asked me about a month ago. And I had to think. What was my zip code when I opened this card? How can I remember the way my dead imaginary cat flicked her tail rounding a corner and not remember five numbers?
I went to Chicago about a month before that. Walking down streets I used to see every day, I realized two things: that I am so at home here, and I can never go back. That even if I moved back it wouldn’t be the same. Lives have gone on, buildings have been torn down and built back up into unfamiliar and awkward shapes.
I felt the push of time and the rush of it moving forward and forward. I hate that time passes. I hate that I can never seem to enjoy it while it’s passing, I’m too busy worrying about steak burritos, and the day my cat’s life will end. If I’ll be able to make the decision, if I’ll be able to comfort her at all.
I have a cat, and one day I won’t.
By Sarah Worzer
Deep breath in. Breathe out.
This saltwater is bizarre. I’d much rather be in a hot tub.
Pointing my toes toward the ceiling. Should my palms be facing up or down? Up. Definitely up. Yogi-style.
Closing my eyes.
Nope. Nope. Don’t like that. Eyes open.
Deep breath. Letting go of the tension in my muscles.
Floating… Floating… geez. Floated my head into the wall.
I don’t like this.
It’s fine. Focus.
Even with the earplugs, the whimsical woodland music is REALLY loud. Silence would be worse though. I’ll get over it.
Do people really like sensory deprivation? Being a baby must be terrifying.
My shoulders are tense. This is not relaxing. I’ll put my arms over my head. Yep, perfect.
Ok, relaxing now. I can do this.
Deep breath. In… And out…
There are a lot of waves in here. I feel a little motion sick.
And why am I floating around so much? This noodle is NOT helping.
I’ll use it to prop my head up on the side.
Ooph, there’s saltwater in my eyes. Where is that washcloth? There we go.
Back to relaxing.
Yep. Really bad for my neck. And so many waves.
Ooh, it’s been long enough– the lights turned off.
I don’t like this.
Which direction am I facing? If I move along the edge of the pool… found it.
This button is… How am I supposed to remember what that dude said when he explained this? He better not come back in here.
I hope there aren’t cameras in here.
The water is REALLY choppy now. Definitely motion sick. Ok, sitting up.
Focus. Be still. Deep breath.
People enjoy this. They do it voluntarily on a regular basis. There are regulars here. They pay money for this. This shouldn’t be so hard.
Counting my breath now. My heart is beating so fast!
I don’t think I’ve ever meditated for 60 minutes. Definitely no more than, like, 15 minutes.
But this is a new experience. Relaxing. Feeling weightless. Clearing my mind.
What if someone walks in while I’m floating in here? And I can’t hear them because of the earplugs and the music? Someone could come in, reach in this small salty pool and drown me! I wish there was a lock on the door.
And that I wasn’t naked.
Opening eyes. Propping up against the wall. Ready to defend myself from attackers. Eyes on the entrance.
Half-floating… I’ve got to be at least 20 minutes in by now.
Even with the lights on it’s too dark in here. What if I cross into the upside down by accident? That corner of the ceiling looks really ominous. Like it’s made for dimension-jumping creatures.
Too real. Sitting up now.
This is a personal-sized, lukewarm, salty swimming pool hell. I did NOT expect to have such strong feelings about this. I can’t imagine if this were one of those enclosed pod-things. I’d be FREAKING OUT.
Where’s my washcloth?
What if I’m totally wrong about my time estimate and I’m over my 60 minutes and that dude is going to come back in? Did my time start when I got in the pool, or when he closed the door? I should have taken notes.
I’m getting out now. I will not be eaten by a demogorgon.
Or murdered by anyone.
It’s not worth it.
My face is so salty.