Uses of Me
Chances are extremely good I will live a long and annoying life - unless my beautiful daughter learns those three terrifying words: "power of attorney." Yes, odds are overwhelmingly against my plane being hijacked, my train detonated or my body being buried in a shallow grave in the woods. It seems unlikely my brain would turn substantially soupier and my nursing home fall under siege. However, it is always possible I could somehow be unable to speak for myself and a will would not be enough. People who know me might lose their nerve and look for false hope. People who did not know me might attempt to exploit my situation. In the event I cannot speak for myself, I am asking you not to fall prey to anyone who misspeaks.
If I am murdered, no matter how few pieces of me are ever found, please feel no need for revenge. I have heard of many families of the murdered pursuing execution only to find that the murderer's death did not solve their problems. Don't waste years of your life chasing the illusion - unless...Unless it's funny. If I am murdered by a rampaging dressmaker outraged by my womanly hips, and you happen to be in a life-threatening snit and holding pinking shears, by all means cut on the bias and don't look back. But don't blame me if the orange jumpsuit chafes and imparts dye on your light laundry.
Live your own life. If I am in an irreversible coma, cut the power. Let me go off into whatever comes next, even if that is nothingness. I am not afraid of not being. In fact, that is the dumbest argument against abortion: What if you had never been born? If I had never been born I wouldn't be rolling my eyes at the complete and utter stupidity of what if you had never been born? No matter what belief system you adhere to you cannot possibly have the facts and no matter who you are what happens next is completely out of your control. It's a crapshoot. Am I in a better place? We don't know! But please don't take my transformed state of being as a criticism of survivors, as Miss Manners would certainly not approve.
If I happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and I am tossed overboard in my wheelchair, if an airliner crashes into my office, if I find myself on the losing end of an international incident, don't wrap me or my casket in a flag and tell people I would want 19-year-olds sent to pointless deaths in my name. For fucksake, folks: I appreciate my hilarious little life enough to insist nobody destroy the vulnerable psyches of teenaged weekend obstacle course veterans with combat in my memory. No. Absolutely not. Not even if it's funny.
There is a difference between justice and revenge. Sure, arrest my killer or killers and make him, her or them wear the orange jumpsuit. You've got my blessing. But that's it. In The World According to Garp, Ellen James is raped and her tongue cut out; in protest, young women have their tongues removed surgically "in solidarity" - much to Ellen James' horror. And almost nobody seems to remember that Rodney King was equally horrified when his beating inspired a whole city to riot. "Why can't we all just get along?" he moaned with all the helplessness of a man who couldn't stop what people who co-opted his image and name set in motion. So let's cut to the chase.
You can't use me:
*for any proselytizing religious purpose. I mean it. None.
*to harm others
*to rally Mad Mothers. I hate those self-righteous bitches. Go the hell home!
*to deprive anyone other than the person or persons directly responsible for my death of their civil rights - and fuck that Patriot Act written in the name of 3,000 dead human beings
*to divide my family, my friends, my nation or my planet along racial, ethnic, religious, sexual orientation, class or economic lines
You can use me to:
*feed the hungry (consider crabmeat stuffing)
*discuss forgiveness (yeah, I put the "er...and?" in "Peace, Love and Understanding")
*put a face on the underrepresented 'Riotously Enraged and Publicly Engaged' population
*study the censorship implied by the funding of official art vs. the painful struggle of underground artists.
If I can't speak for myself and some self-aggrandizing pigfucker like - but not limited to - Randall Terry shows up with a film crew pull the plug on that asshole's media comeback and then pull it on me. I am not his or theirs to use, and I am not a cause. I am a person with very specific ideas about right, wrong and where to get a decent pizza. If debate erupts in the Senate and Presidents summon helicopters to turn me into a victimized symbol used against invisible people just like me, find yourself a film crew and play Point & Laugh all the way to the simple end: She's dead. Get it? So let's get a martini and I'll tell you an outrageous Tata story.
I am saying this as clearly as I can. I also recommend you put your wishes where people can see them. I don't want my messy and/or comically enhanced death to undo my life's work of artmaking, rabble-rousing and taste-testing at the Buffet Table of Life. If someone tells you I was virtuous or would want you to give up your free speech because I went BOOM! take a deep breath and tell him to fuck off. Don't mince words or stutter politely. Fuck off, you fucking publicity hound, you lying sack of karmic shit, you hypocritical soul-stealer. Practice. Those words will undoubtedly come in handy, and swearing makes you look smart to the other cool kids.
Now, it's your turn. Blog it, baby. What is the meaning of your life? I'll - uh - check in over the next day or two. In the meantime, I've got something scandalous to do, probably involving salsa, a cabana boy and a martini; later, a picnic and the punk rock memorial service for Instant Death's Scotty Byrne. Odds are excellent I'll laugh, I'll cry, I'll curse the day someone was born, even myself. Got it? Good.