Ruminations of a Red Dirt Hussy

May 21, 2012

O, death, where is thy . . . ouch! That stings!

I love those laughing baby videos on Youtube. And talking animals. Who doesn’t? But you know what?

No! Don’t guess! I’m fixing to tell you! Jeeze, people.

There are dead people on YouTube. Or nearly dead people. Now, that’s just sick, there, but I did look for a minute. And by a minute I mean two hours. Oh, yeah, like you haven’t done that.

It’s no different than you watching guys blowing things up, or drunk people falling down. Not that there’s anything wrong with that last one. Not the watching part. The falling down part. You’re really safer on the ground when you’re drunk. I’m just saying.

I know chances are good that I’m going to die someday. Known it since I was four years old. And even at four I was thoroughly and completely PISSED. I was in the back seat of my parents’ car when the concept of death smacked me upside the head, and after I determined that being PISSED would only eat at me, hurting no one but myself (because I was rational then. Before the crazy set in. Don’t ask me about that seismic shift, because I can explain that. Until you throw up.) So, once I realized I would only be hurting me, I said to myself, “Self, we just by-god won’t do it.” When you consider it, it’s the only thing a thinking four-year-old could say: I won’t. I won’t I won’t I won’t.

Who can argue with that?

I did spot a tiny flaw in my reasoning as time passed and I lived a life chock-full of shit I wasn’t going to do. Refusing to do something before I was told or in some way coerced to do it would be a waste of energy. I mean, it wasn’t like somebody was going to walk up to me or send me a letter or call me on the phone and say, “You! Over there. Yeah, you watching dead people on YouTube. Die!”

And from that I extrapolated this: Death is sneaky. Even when you’re doing something stupid like wearing roller skates and letting yourself be pulled behind a pickup, you would probably be completely surprised to wake up dead. (Not that I’ve done that roller skate thing. But don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.)

So my solution to that sneakiness was to constantly be on the watch for harbingers of death. You know, harbingers. Like those little alien-monkey things that always preceded someone’s death on Dead like Me.

I spent most of my young adulthood tempting death, practically inviting him. I don’t know why. Maybe just to get a glimpse so I’d know what he looked like when he actually came. Will cigarettes kill me? Got a light? How much tequila is in an overdose? I’ll have another double.

So, by doing what I ought not to do, I was getting the drop on death! He wasn’t going to sneak up on me. And it’s a man. You know it is. No woman could be so devious. Well, maybe that home wrecker Angelina Jolie. I know, right? Brad Pitt is a cretin.

So here I am, years and years after that discovery of my own mortality, and people, I am exhausted. Do you have any idea how tiring hyper-vigilance can be? You could ask any cat, but you don’t have to, because I’m going to tell you.

It’s like watching a Quentin Tarintino movie and waiting for it to making sense. Or staking out a serial killer’s white panel van with no windows (because that is their vehicle of choice, take my word for it) night after night after night (I have delusions of investigatory talent). Or watching for Jon Stewart to leave the building when he already knows I’m out there.

I really think this is what caused my ADHD. It’s not that I’m deficient in attention. It’s there, but worn to tatters, so I save it for important stuff. And it’s not that I’m hyperactive. I have to maintain a moving target.

I don’t know why I was so drawn to looking at those videos. Maybe for the same reason I read the obituaries . . . to make sure I’m not accidentally there. They were sad, though, those clips.

And where were those harbingers? There weren’t any unless you count smoking cigarettes, drinking booze, performing acts we’ve all clearly been warned not to try at home, or sprawling in the middle of the highway or on the train tracks.

But a lot of dead people probably didn’t do any of that, didn’t intend to be dead at all, and yet, there they are. Seems to me that if rejecting death really worked, somebody would have thought of it before I did, and refusing to do it would work whether you were watching for it or not.

Just to be safe, I’m going to go ahead and keep an eye out.



  1. Haha! When my aunt explained menstruation to my cousin, Sharon, and I when we were 4 years old, Sharon huffed, “Well, I’m not doing thaaaat!” And no amount of convincing on my aunt’s part could convince her otherwise. At 8 years old, after learning where babies come from, I remember telling my friend that no boy was gonna come near me with that thing. Well, we know how that turned out, and in spite of my early misgivings, I do have to say I’m so glad to have been proven wrong about it. Granted, that one was voluntary, whereas neither periods nor death are something we choose. But in my experience, hypervigilance hasn’t kept a single thing from occurring in my life but that which was meant to occur anyway, and its only contribution was the exhaustion you mentioned. Time to give it up. Or not, Jumpy 🙂


    Comment by Michelle — May 21, 2012 @ 2:12 pm | Reply

  2. Saturday I went with a couple of neighbors to a funeral home on the groudns of a cemetery to say visit to our 93 year-old neighbor who was “at rest” there. As we were leaving, I starting laughing and said “pheew, I got outta there alive — again.” My friend Teri said,”Yep, one of these days we will go in, but not come out!”
    I stopped laughing.
    I said, “what I think is sad is all the little doo-dads I have at home – precious Disney teapots and half-quilted quilt pieces that my kids will sell at a yard sale for a dime. They don’t watch ‘Antiques Roadshow’ like I do.”
    I guess the solution is to sell that stuff now and “down-size” to fit a nursing home table with 2 tiny drawers. That way, your kids won’t be saddled with contacting the Smithsonian or Getty Museum to donate your whistle collection or your great-grandmother’s tatting shuttle.
    Or leave them something to do that makes them cry.
    Love your post, Carol. You always make me laugh and ponder. And look up words in the dicitonary. Love, Lottie


    Comment by ponytail girl — May 22, 2012 @ 9:37 am | Reply

  3. I am on my first cup of coffee, so I can’t spell.


    Comment by ponytail girl — May 22, 2012 @ 9:40 am | Reply

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