Born With An Expiration Date
We are all going to die, that is something no one can avoid. One of the things that make death so intimidating is we never know when it is going to happen. Even though I am just afraid of death as everyone else, I do have one distinct advantage: I know the date when this is all going to end.
In the winter of 1984, my friend Phil had a Christmas party at his apartment. Mostly his work friends were in attendance, so I didn’t know a lot of the people. I did, however, recognize the Christmas tree in the corner. With drink in hand, I went over to talk to it. As Phil worked the room he made his way over to me. I stood near the tree and feigned interest in one of his childhood’s homemade ornament: ‘Merry X-Mas’ spelled out in macaroni glued to an inverted plastic cup, painted white and covered in sparkles. Phil stared at me, as I stared at the ornament, then he asked -
“What are you thinking about?”
For reasons that baffle me to this very day I said, “I’m going to die on August eighth”.
Phil looked at me, nodded his head in agreement as if I had just said, “The sky is blue”, then turned and continued being the dutiful host.
Up until that moment, August 8th had no significance whatsoever in my life — after that moment, it became a part of me.
Over the years, my friends learned of my predication about the day I was going to die.
I am often asked, “What year?” but I have no idea. As if predicting the actual date of my death wasn’t good enough, I had to provide all the details (people are so lazy). This led to speculations as to what year would look best on my tombstone. When 1988 rolled around, fingers were crossed (not mine) that it would be the year.
“How cool would that look on a tombstone,” several people said, “8-8-88.”
I guess if you’re going to die, you might as well make it look good. But that day came and passed to the disappointment of my friends. I couldn’t take it personally that so many people rooted for my death because I opened that door in the first place – I was flattered that so many people wanted my tombstone to look cool.
My next opportunity for the cool tombstone came in 2008 but unfortunately (unfortunately?) that passed without incident. I will not be around when that next opportunity arises for that very cool ‘8-8-88’ tombstone.
This year, I sit on the semi-cool tombstone headline‘8-8-18’. In many ways, I’m surprised to be at a point to have a semi-cool tombstone. Until recently, I didn’t exactly exercise, eat right, or take care of myself (my blog is called Conflict and Scotch for a reason). My high blood pressure is under control the way a lion tied to a tree with twine is under control. Once had a blood clot go to my eye, and I’m about to celebrate the sixth anniversary of that mysterious pain that lives under the right side of my ribcage (mysterious pains are so hard to shop for). Before I hit fifty, those morbid inquiries of my demise were most definitely tongue-in-cheek.
With sixty on the horizon, the calls I receive are more genuine in nature.
On August 8th of any given year I will get phone calls from people who say, “Just Checking in” or ask “So how are you feeling?” or those who sound genuinely disappointed when I answer my phone, “Oh, so you’re still alive?”
Once again the calendar has landed on my death-day. Will I live or will I die? Feel free to join in on this mortality game of Groundhog’s Day. Be sure to check back on August 9th to find out the results.
Will Al die or will there be three-hundred and sixty-five more days of Al (three-hundred and sixty-six more days of Al during leap years)?