Tuesday, April 3, 2012

"Thank you" will do nicely

I don't think anyone will hear my last words. I will probably be in the bathroom, water running, bubbles in the air -- that odious cheap perfume of the cheap shampoo I begged for, everywhere, in every steamed-open, gaping pore.

Or my audience will consist of cats. A faithful audience and not one to regret, however, I estimate that one of the three currently in residence suffers from a hunger so gnawing that he'd eat me within ten minutes of my surcease. Sure, he'd hold the chipped and sharp-edged round make-up mirror to my mouth, hoping against vapor. Lacking any sign of life, the felines know the ultimate test and Dobby will surely wave a mug of steamy dry-processed Haile Selassie from the Dara area of Ethiopia's Sidamo province under my deceased nose.

Yes, I have been dreaming of a trip to the Farmer's Market Coffee Pavilion.

If Fred finds me, I predict he will promptly take a nap -- after tossing a sheet over me, shooing away the cats, and shutting the door. If I am in the bedroom, he'll crash on the sofa in the library. Or maybe on the futon up in the Computer Turret, though that's a bit far to ask someone in the early stages of mild euphoria to travel.

Anyway, presuming myself, and my self, alone, to be my ultimate audience, what will I say, I wonder? I decided to practice this morning, though I stress to you, Dear Reader (You seem so far away, so dim... come closer!), that this is not theater. No "magic if," no method.

First, though, I laugh, because what I just said to you, I said to myself, as well, and realized how foreign, how divorced from who-i-am is the idea of no theater, no "magic if," no method. Because the first thing I did was the first thing I always do when beginning any inquiry: I begged the question.
Begging the question (Latin petitio principii, "assuming the initial point") is a type of logical fallacy in which a proposition is made that uses its own premise as proof of the proposition. In other words, it is a statement that refers to its own assertion to prove the assertion.
No, no need to get all Aristotelian on me, now.  All I mean by that,  is this:  Why do we say anything?  At any time, to anyone, including to our lone selves as sole interlocutors?  I am not begging the question; I am raising others.  Try and stick me, and in my dying moments, too, with a logical fallacy, will you?  If you applied yourself, I am sure you'd realize that what I'm actually guilty of is... Applied Circuitry.

Oh, I am cracking myself up, and I haven't even started yet.  You don't like "circuitry"?  Okay, use "circuitousness," instead, but it's an ugly word, and I mean that in the nicest way possible.

The first thing that comes to mind is that I will utter some strange neologism, or, as I just demonstrated, I'll misuse some established idiom -- not trying to be clever, just doing what I've always done, cavorting in the margin.  Most likely, whether neologism or perversion, it will come out garbled.  Gobbledygook. 

For some reason, I also think it likely that I will say "Who knew?" --  then give half a laugh, and croak.  Dying mid-laugh has a certain appeal.

What is certain?  Well, it won't be drawn out, or consist of the terribly polysyllabic.  One of the first things to go, you know, is the vital blood supply to the tongue.  So even if your brain isn't completely anemic, your mouth most likely won't cooperate much with complicated goings-on at the tail end of life.  In the bathroom, whiffing lavender suds, wondering who will clean The Manor now, and just generally at wit's end, I won't be inclined to recite the Krebs cycle.

Everything changes, of course, if I am not alone.  Then, be my company animal or human, I think there is only one thing to say:  Thank you.  And maybe, though it seems a little persnickety, "Good luck!"

I would not, though, say it to all life forms.  I would not, for example, say it to an ant, and never, ever to a roach.  O God! Save me from a roach, there at the last!

There are many of you who think I am missing the point.  Do you accuse me of circumlocution, and of having dropped the point off mid-escapade?  Or do you think I never knew the point, and my circuitousness is a failed attempt to mask how utterly lost I am, and will be?  Shouldn't I speak to God, at the moment I come undone?  Well, smarty-pants, that may work for you but I've always felt immensely silly, forcing words on God.

I just don't know.  I do think that last words, thoughts, and expressions don't carry the import that the living give them -- unless, of course, you're identifying your murderer, making a heartfelt confession, or telling Fred the password to the Fidelity account.

We must try to have everything said -- an option that allows for different last words and differing final conversations, attentive and thoughtful, each. Failing that, I think "Thank you" will do nicely.

Today, right now, I am not convinced of the inappropriateness of laughter, or of the stony nature of silence.

In all likelihood, my ending will encompass, but not reflect, the surprise of oncoming traffic, the shock of a gun barrel, or the crushing pain of an infarct.  The blessing of fading into sleep, quiescent, seems a childish hope now, but I do still hope for it. Slipping away during a nap could save me a lot of embarrassment.

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