Grumpy Young Man: I’m not afraid of death

I’m not afraid of death.

Really, I’m not. Oh sure, I’m afraid of getting sick and old and DYING, but why would I be afraid of death? I’m not scared of NOTHING.

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Sorry true believers, I don’t think anything happens after you die and if something does happen, well I don’t have the gall to take a guess on what that something is. Well, unless that something is ROTTING IN THE GROUND.

When I tell people I don’t think anything special happens after you die – no heaven, no reincarnation, no afterlife of any sort – they get depressed and say things like “I can’t imagine nothing.”

Of course you can’t. You can’t experience nothing. It doesn’t exist.

“Oh, so you mean like total blackness?”

Noooo, that would be SOMETHING, we’re talking about nothing here.

Because we’re so terrified by the idea of nothing, we’ve come up with a whole language to avoid talking about it. In the risk of ripping off a George Carlin bit, nobody dies anymore, they just pass away.

Pass away? What does that mean? You rarely hear the suicidal say “I’m so depressed, I want to PASS AWAY.”

“Pass on” is even worse. It insinuates that the dead went somewhere.

“Things haven’t been the same since grandpa passed on.”

You’re right, grandma, he did pass on, from THE COUCH to THE MANTLE.

In addition to “pass away” and “pass on,” there’s lots of death slang that’s not so much overly sensitive or sentimental, just really stupid. Here are some:

-He bought the farm: Seems like an inopportune time to buy land.

-He died with his boots on: My uncle died with his boots on. He always slept in his boots.

-You’ll meet your maker: I hate to break it you, but I’ve already met them. Good people.

-He’s on his last legs: A huge insult to the legless.

-He cashed in his chips: This one I get. Have you ever seen the slot jockeys at Club Regent Casino? Those people are going to die soon. At least they look like they want to die.

-He expired: This one also makes sense but it makes me feel weird, because sometimes I eat bread after it’s expired. It’s still good if you toast it. Can’t say the same for people.

-He bit the dust: Why would you bite dust?

-He bit the big one: The big one? The big what? Dust?

-He’s going to a better place: Well, I hope it’s not so dusty.

-He lost his life: Check the box. It’s mostly just mitts but you might find a life in there.

-He shuffled off this mortal coil: I don’t know what that means, but at least I found my mitts.

And then there’s the dumbest death avoidance phrase in the book: Rest in peace.

First of all, “rest” implies “sleep” which implies the dead are going to wake up. Now that’s scary.

Second, sure, he/she might have rest in peace, you know, had you not lit them on fire and threw them in a cookie jar. Ever hear of a bed?

That being said, I can see why we have this silly slang for death, because sometimes when people die, it’s hilarious.

Take the drunk driver who texted “YOLO” before crashing to his death or the morbidly obese mascot for Heart Attack Grill who died of a heart attack or those teens who don’t understand that you can die from THE CHOKING GAME.

Seriously, I saw this kid on Oprah one time, a choking game survivor (also known as THE WINNER), saying he didn’t know you could DIE from it.

“Hey, he’s just a kid!”

You’re right, what 13 year old knows that wrapping a belt around your buddy’s neck and pulling until he passes out isn’t a good thing? I mean, how would you inherently know that choking is bad?

I’m not saying I’m a genius, but I understood from a young age that breathing is important. Not to brag, but sometimes I don’t even have to think about breathing.

I first heard of the choking game a few years ago. I asked a friend if she knew of it and she said “Oh yeah, we use to do that all the time.”

What!? Really? When I was a youngster I was playing hopscotch, swinging on the monkey bars and sniffing glue, you know, wholesome activities. Kids these days.

Now, just because I think it’s funny that people have died while choking each other for fun, doesn’t mean I don’t think it’s sad as well. In fact, I’m usually sad when people die.

Take these school shootings of late. Horrible. I don’t get these rampage killers. They shoot a loved one, then a whole classroom of kids, then themselves. Why don’t they just start with themselves? That would solve everything.

Why do they do it? Well, for one, they want to be remembered, but how can you have any satisfaction of being remembered when you’re dead? Sure, people will remember you, but you won’t know they’re remembering you, because YOU’RE DEAD. You’re not buried six feet under going “Man, I wonder if somebody remembers me. Oh right, I’m dead.”

I know, there’s more to it – mental illness, bad parenting, violent video games, access to firearms and what not – I’ve just found it feels much better to be remembered when you’re alive, but hey, that’s just me. I do this weird thing where I only worry about the experiences I have while I’m alive.

I’m probably wrong for holding crazed killers to any sort of logic, but hey, I don’t discriminate. Plus, this is a humour column.

Anyway, if you have a problem with anything I just said, feel free to tell me where to go. Just no death threats. Pass away threats only, please.


Jared Story is a stand-up comedian and freelance writer. He kicked a bucket once and it almost killed him. Follow him on Twitter at @jrockarolla.