July 2006

ASK THE SMART GUY: Monthly column by Dennis Latham.

Question of the Month: Why do we fear death?

Weasel in Hell

Luckily, we're not all like Weasel Rigatoni. He never worried about paying unemployment compensation.

To quote the 1920s gangster Weasel Rigatoni: "Death," said he, "is a way of telling your employees dat dey is unemployed."

Many words describe this last traumatic event: croaked, buying the farm, planted, blowed away, wasted, taken for a ride. As a man, I add chick-flicks and marriage. One religious sect even believes that, if you've been married at least twice, you qualify for a job as a tour guide in Hell.

(I qualify for upper management in that job category.)

Physical death can be painless and quick or a long, agonizing process. I do not fear physical dying, having faced it too many times from pointer-poking Catholic nuns and angry, pistol-waving scientists.

(When you claim to be a smart guy, people may become angry.)<

I did experience a form of a long agonizing death years ago when a family member forced me to sit through the Brooke Shields movie Blue Lagoon, and then a few years later, I begged to be put out of my misery during Bridges of Madison County.

(Iím old enough to remember when you could still smoke in the movie theater and they had real ushers you could hit in the back of the head with hard candy. They also had real balconies where you could gag and pour vegetable soup over the railing and watch the fun.)

I think we fear most what comes after death, which could be… nothing. That's the scary part. You tried to be good your entire life for nothing. Then you end up being nothing, angry about nothing. So, we have the bright light theory. Survivors of near-death experiences claim they saw a bright light and dead friends and family pulled them toward the light. Scientists claim the human body shutting down causes the bright light illusion, but they don't know for sure. I believe the bright light theory because it's better than nothing. I have accepted that my brain function will cease and I will pass on to a place where one meets departed friends and relatives. This could be a good thing, unless, like me, you owe them money.

So I say we fear death because we fear change. Passing to another life form under bright lights is the big change. Daily life may suck but most of us are comfortable with it. I just hope the bright light isn't a subway or an all-night burger joint. I don't want to spend eternity trying to get into a toilet filled with puking drunks or have to read endless advertising. But what really makes me fear death is the bright light might be an entrance to a theater showing an endless chick-flicks.

But I could always trade it off for a job as a tour guide in Hell.

Ed. Note: I am told that The Goddess in his life more than once threw him over her knees and gave him a severe spanking as he wrote columns like this. Allegedly, he liked that a lot. [JTC 2021]


Closing Note: Photo of the Employees' Toilet in Hell:

or as some might say, the rest room... adore in hell

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