Today I am featuring another guest post, this time from my bestie since high school, Jono Gray.
I'm Afraid of Dying...in an Unusual Way
Written by Jono Gray
Illustrated by Tabitha Parker
Fear exists. There’s a famous quote from a Franklin D. Roosevelt who briefly discussed fear. He said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” What are you, fucking high? That’s like saying we have nothing to envy but jealousy itself. There’s plenty of things to be reasonably afraid of. Like disease and serial killers and arguments and not knowing if this ferris wheel ride is gonna be the one that detaches itself and rolls into traffic.
Although dying is only number two on the list of things America fears most, it is still and always will be number one in the actual cause of death. Yet, there are few who embrace it and show no fear in the face of certain (eventual) doom. I am scared of death, I admit. I’m not the first and definitely not the last. Death isn’t something to get worked up about when you’re young, safe, and boring, but after seeing the world through my eyes, you might second guess all your decisions, too.
People die all the time. In weird ways. In weird, specifically odd, and rare ways. Let’s take a look at pencils. It’s true that people have been killed by pencils and/or pens. It happens all the time; it’s in the newspaper, usually in a crime of passion.
But when you were in school, and after sharpening your pencil at the pencil sharpener, did you hesitate to go back to your desk? I did. What if some kid sticks his foot out to trip me? What if I don’t account for a step or that table leg? And for whatever reason, I fall in the exact position that puts that sharpened pencil through my eye socket, puncturing my brain?
I never used pencils in school unless there was a test, and I made a point to bring several already sharpened. No eye injuries for me, thank you. And pens remained capped when not in use (I can’t imagine walking with an uncapped pen, or standing up with one).
And it’s not just with pencils. Those properties can easily be transferred to other situations. The spokes on a bicycle. The faucet in the bathtub. The bed that collapses at the right moment when looking for a lost shoe.
The thoughts are always there, but I tend to overcome them eventually, thinking, “That’s crazy. That’s not gonna happen. Why would it?” Oh Jono. It can, and it will, because it has.
When you learn about statistics, that’s when scary thoughts become horrifying realities. A lawn dart is an oversized dart that you play in a game on your lawn. It’s despicably self-explanatory. And yet, there are casualties in this game. In 1987, these supposed fun toys claimed the lives of 8 people, causing them to be banned in 1988. From thereon after, deaths dwindled to about 2-3 annually.
If you stopped me on the street and asked how many people died (died, mind you – not hurt or injured) from lawn darts, I’d answer zero. I mean, can you imagine dying from a lawn dart? I don’t know anyone who owns lawn darts or even know where to find one, so that kinda puts me at a version of ease I am comfortable with.
I couldn’t help but learn more about unusual deaths, putting myself in a horrible wikipedia rabbit hole, uncovering so many deaths inflicted on mostly innocent people for little to no reason at all. In 1919, a tank of molasses in Boston exploded, flooding the city with over 2 million gallons of molasses. The jellied blob of molasses killed 21 people and injured 150 and took nearly a year to clean up.
Living next to any factory is out for me. There are dozens of accounts of actors, directors, and stuntmen who’ve been killed by helicopter decapitation, including 3 from the Twilight Zone Movie. And I will never be shot with a gun – it doesn’t matter if I’m wearing a vest or if the bullets are blanks. I know too much about it now. I’ll direct my movies in riot gear – that’ll be my niche. Like Ron Howard with his hat and vest. Or is that Steven Spielberg?
I can’t walk up or down the stairs without being reminded of the guy who did the exact same thing, except the entire flight collapsed under and on top of him. Nor will I forget the gal who missed one step – ONE! – and fell open-mouth first onto the last step severing her jaw and snapping her spine. I never walk up or down any stairs without some sort of a plan B.
At this point in my life, these death-imposed thoughts are no longer a threat to everyday operations, but they’re still there. And with every new event or situation or product I see, you can be sure that a new way to die will be inserted into my thought process. And with that comes a new and exciting way to avoid it.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jono Gray is a comedian/writer/performer extraordinaire in Austin, Texas.
He has been afraid of things since I met him.