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Monday, February 24, 2003
READER EMAIL QUOTE OF THE DAY: "You're not funny, Pete."

Three articles today:

The Joys of Suicide [] Top Ten Things... [] 'Iraqi War Death Pool' Rebuttal


[ The Joys of Suicide? ]

More than once in my life, I've run headlong into a suicide.

One rainy evening, I was driving across a local bridge when I saw a man climbing over the railing. There he stood, perched, at the midway point on this bridge. He was looking down, and seemed to be contemplating some decision.

I was familiar with this particular bridge. A friend of mine had once jumped off it, hoping that, when he hit the dry river bottom below, he'd be killed.

He jumped feet first, breaking both his legs. One leg had to be amputated it was so badly mangled.

When I saw him later, but before finding out about his suicide attempt, I had asked him, "Hey, where's your leg?"

He told me he had lost it in a "skateboarding accident."

"Apparently, that was one hell of an accident," I said.

Later, I found out about the incident on the bridge.

Now, passing this latest jumper on the bridge, I slowed the car down and rolled down the window.

"I hope you know what you're doing," I said, "there's a trick to that, you know."

"What kind of trick?" he asked.

"Two words," I replied, "head first."

He looked at me. He glanced down into the darkness. He looked back at me.

"Say," I said, "I'm going to a meeting of people who know a lot about suicide. Would you like to join me? You can probably pick up a few pointers."

He got in the car. We went to that meeting. This would-be suicide even spoke to the group.

He said, "Hi, my name is Tom, and I'm an alcoholic."

My friend, Martha, committed suicide. She was fastidiously neat and tidy. Everything had its place. She spent a lot of time dusting the furniture and vacuuming the carpets. She owned several pistols and a shotgun. All were well oiled and in perfect working order.

I found her body one afternoon. It was sprawled on the floor, a shotgun lying haphazardly across the chest.

She had lost her head that day. First figuratively, then literally.

On the table above her, in perfect order, was a suicide note, a copy of her last will, and several items of jewelry she wanted her daughter to have.

The scene was a real mess, however, with blood and brain matter splattered everywhere. Things were not the way Martha usually liked them, that's for sure.

The last line of her suicide note read: "I am unclean."

Another friend hung himself. They discovered his body, dangling from the rafters, with his pants around his ankles. So, technically, this might've been a case of Auto-Erotic Asphyxiation gone terribly wrong instead. They say orgasm is "a little death." So, he must still be having one heck of an orgasm.

It has also been said that orgasm provides a "brief moment of serenity". I'm trying to find a little serenity in every part of my life. Sometimes, that can be difficult. Maybe I just need to have more orgasms.

My own father shot himself in the head. It happened the night his second wife asked him for a divorce.

During the last few years of his life, he had had two heart attacks. A radical change in diet and a lot of heart medication followed. But, in the end, none of that helped. He still died of a broken heart.

I once tried suicide. It was during the downward spiral of a failed love affair. In my youthful enthusiasm for drama, I downed a whole bottle of aspirin. It didn't kill me, but I *can* say that I haven't had a headache since.

It's been said that every dark cloud has a silver lining. But not the black cloud of suicide, pregnant with incomprehensible demoralization at the ready to drop buckets of the stuff on our heads.

By attempting suicide, it'll come down in torrents, not washing away the pain, just leaving us all wet.

No, suicide is not the answer. No matter what you might be thinking right now. Thus ends the 'Public Service Announcement' paragraph of this story.

Now, go out and live a life of playful opportunity.

[ Top 10 Things NOT to Say to a Depressed Person ]

10. You're just not a morning person, are you?

9. Gee, how bad can it be?

8. Cheer up!

7. But you're so smart, good looking and talented. Anyway, a lot of people are worse off than you.

6. Get over it, already!

5. Try thinking happy thoughts.

4. Eat some ice cream. You'll feel better.

3. Everybody feels out of sorts once in awhile. If you just got out of the house more often, you'd feel much better.

2. It looks like SOMEBODY got up on the wrong side of the bed today.

...and the number one...

1. ** S M I L E **

[ 'Iraqi War Death Pool' Rebuttal ]

Originally published as part of the "(DE)PRESSING FOR WAR" column (Feb. 19), 'Iraqi War Death Pool' got the largest response of any piece yet appearing on this web log.

Was it satire? Yes, in part. Is it a real contest? Yes, most definitely.

It was my reaction to hearing three people say, in as many days, "I've really got to get cable TV, so I can watch that war on CNN". All three said this in an almost gleeful tone.

My reaction? War is not a video game. It is not a Reality TV show. This is not "The Surreal Life". It is real life and, in real life, people die. Sometimes in very horrible ways.

Some thought my column was an attack on the brave men and women who will be fighting the War in Iraq. It was not. Far from it, in fact.

If anything, it was meant to be a way to bring the immediacy of what is about to occur to the forefront. Yes, I *could* be like other anti-war protestors, and march until I'm blue in the face. Ultimately, making little - if any - difference, as America gears up to get its war on.

Case in point, from PBS' "Washington Week" (Feb. 21 broadcast), panelist Gloria Borger (CNBC; US News & World Report) stated, "I actually asked a top White House adviser this week about whether the protests had come up in conversations with the president at all, whether it was raised as a matter of interest or discussion or anything, and he said, `No, not once.'"

So, I still try to do my little part for the anti-war effort, as futile as that may be, but, in the words of Michael Jackson (in his 'Thriller' video), "I'm not like other boys."

Hence, the articles of "(De)Pressing for War", amongst others.

In response to the 'death pool', it's been suggested that I, instead, "rip on George W. Bush and the powers-that-be."

I've done that. Two prime examples would be, "It's Pearl Harbor Day, Let's Get Bombed!" (Dec. 4, '02) and "Pro-War Supporters Call for Immediate Action" (Jan. 25, '03).

For all the good that did.

Time and again, I've made the point that I don't think Bush has made his case for bombing the livin' bejesus out of Iraq.

First, it was Osama bin Laden hiding under Saddam Hussein's bed in the palace. Then, it was ingredients for a nuclear arsenal hidden under the bed. Lately, it's been chemical and biological weapons under there.

Remember when you were a kid? It was late at night. You were scared, because you thought there was a monster hiding under your bed. Mom and dad made a nightly ritual of checking but, guess what, there never was a monster, was there?

Bush's protestations sound very similar to that, except now it's becoming an international nightmare.

One person who emailed me wrote: "I'll tell you what - run your death pool, and enjoy yourself. Have a good laugh. And do try to keep out of the back of your mind the images of a grieving widow, fatherless or motherless children."

Guess what? Those are exactly the images that were in the FOREFRONT of my mind when I wrote "Iraqi War Death Pool."

It is exactly those images that I hope my column evoked in the readers.

Others are also ready to take the toll. The WWE's "Iraq Body Clock" is set up to tally the cost in human life (on all sides), and cost in U.S. dollars, King Dubya's Folly will exact. (See hot-link to the site under "Sites of Interest", along left side of this page.)

As an aside, of the "death pool" entries received thus far, nearly 75% think the first American casualty will occur on Day 1. This says less about the troops who, in my opinion, are definitely "fighting trim", than it does about the state of the U.S. and world-at-large in general. A sense of fear and malaise seems to be permeating every aspect of our lives. What with terrorism, the situations with Iraq and North Korea, a sagging global economy, and all the rest.

Maybe I did play into that sense of fear and paranoia. Don't blame me for what I've spun; it's a little trick I picked up from my hero, George W. Bush. Please note heavy sarcasm in that last sentence. Thank you.

One must realize, sometimes my columns are of the "funny, ha ha" type. In other cases, such as with "Iraqi War Death Pool", it's more of the "funny, sad" variety of humor. Discerning readers can, hopefully, tell the difference.

And so, the clock continues to tick.

Right now, it's morning in America. Wake up and smell the corpses, people.


posted by Pete 10:50 AM
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