Deadly Thoughts

Ruminations on how to meet the master.

I don't want to die because of the weather. I don't want to die at all, but I suppose I have to--although I was talking to Ted Williams the other day and he said it's not a guaranteed thing anymore. He's a cool guy.

I already have the words for my headstone picked out. I told my kids that I want it to read, "Tom: He Never Wore Sandals." (Actually, I never have, but I don't think it's weird or anything.)

There are lots of ways to die, and I can't imagine a whole lot of them being fun. Richard Pryor swears that his 57-year-old dad died while engaged in sex with an 18-year-old. Pryor says, "He came and went at the same time." And he said that none of his dad's friends cried at the funeral. They all said, "Lucky mutha." But then, nobody would touch that woman after that. They all said, "Not me, huh-uh!"

That's the funniest story I know about dying, although the cringe factor of the 40-year age difference does tend to squeeze a whole lot of the funny out of the anecdote.

I'm not really certain about how I would want to die, but I'm sure about ways I do not want to go. I don't want to go a dumb way. If I'm remembered at all, I don't want it to be for the dumb way I died. I'm talking about these Darwin Awards dummies who light a match to see how much gasoline is left in the storage tank.

You always read about people dying because of the weather. That's mostly dumb, too. They live in a place called Tornado Alley and they get killed by a tornado. That's like when Denis Leary talked about Lou Gehrig dying of Lou Gehrig's Disease. He probably should have seen that coming.

I'm pretty sure I'm not going to die from the heat. I've lived here most of my life and I embrace the heat. I bought a new car and drove it for nearly seven years without ever once turning on the air conditioner. I stay out of Organ Pipe National Monument in July and I drink some of that water stuff every now and then.

What really gets me is people dying in the Midwest when the temperatures soar into the 90s. Wusses!

My friend Emil Franzi says when they get those "heat waves" in Chicago, the people who probably would have died anyway of natural causes are put in a special category by local politicians so the city can squeeze the feds for a few bucks to buy portable air conditioners to distribute to potential voters.

I don't want to die from a tornado, although I do think I'd like to see one. I have a friend named Margie who went to college in Sterling, Kan. on a basketball scholarship. When she was there, they had a tornado warning, and while everybody else was scrambling into the storm cellar, she went outside to watch. She said, "I wanted to see it. I didn't know if I'd ever get a chance to see another one."

Well, if you see one, especially up close, that definitely increases the chances that you're never going to see another one.

I don't want to die because of a hurricane. Hot, wet wind just doesn't work for me. And you always see these idiots on the Gulf Coast who have hurricane parties. Yeah, let's get falling-down drunk so that when the rescuers come by in a boat to pluck us off what's left of the roof, we'll have trouble holding on to the rope.

But if I do die from a hurricane, let it have a female name. That way, when I'm in the Purgatory Waiting Room, and somebody asks how I died, I can say, "Deirdre. Know what I mean?" Wink, wink.

No wait, then I'd have to go back and explain that I wasn't 40 years older than Deirdre. Never mind.

It wouldn't be cool to die from hail. You don't want the last things to go through your head to be a big chunk of ice and then the thought, "Wow, I always thought they were exaggerating with that 'tennis ball-sized' stuff."

In addition to because of weather, I don't want to die:

· In bed with Joan Rivers. Actually, if I were ever in bed with Joan Rivers, that would be the cause of death. I despise Joan Rivers. The meanest thing I've ever written in my life was about Joan Rivers. (I said that the reason her husband committed suicide was that he was tired of getting paper cuts from her hip bones during sex.) I hate Joan Rivers so much, I fast-forward through all of her speaking parts in Spaceballs. I don't want to die in the same state as Joan Rivers. Or her skanky-ass daughter.

· Stuck in somebody's windshield. Can you believe that woman in Texas? Her defense for leaving the guy she had plowed into with her car wedged inside her windshield (so he could slowly die in her garage) was that she had been drinking and using drugs. I definitely don't want to be a part of anybody's windshield, but what would really bother me is that if my last words on this earth were "crack ho!"

· In France. You could die in France and your body could rot in the summer sun for a couple weeks, and people could walk by and smell it and think that you were just a French intellectual taking a nap.

· Of radiation poisoning. That would mean that my son wasn't kidding about that thermonuclear device he was building in the garage. And that he had left the lid off.

All this discussion has left me more confused than ever about the possible cause(s) of my death, so I'll just table the discussion for now and get back to you in 50 years. Me and Ted Williams.