Deathbed confessions

In my youth (well, more youth than I have at present, anyway) the guy I hung out with was about ten years older and very much the baby of his family. We’d meet his local family members (all over 60) for lunch on alternate Saturdays, and talk about constipation.

That’s as in who had it now, its proximate cause (steamed rice played a prominent role), and plans for alleviation. Possibly they discussed other things, but all I remember were endless elaborations on stubborn bowels.

Were you to list all the topics I might ever want to discuss, constipation would rank about third from the bottom, even less interesting than, say, figuring out how much you should tip if you didn’t have the tapenade.

And, listening to them, I vowed that I would never get so old and boring that the only memorable thing about me involved intestines.


Ever since, I’ve been designing deathbed alternatives that keep me as far away from the ExLax as possible. Just now I’m thinking I’ll be an old beggarlady in rags, living on kelp and oyster shells in a box on the beach. I try for years to interest the surfers in my weird photos of a tall bearded guy, but they only laugh and pass me the hookah.

One day a curator from the Smithsonian finds me dead in my box, next to the photos, and shrieks: The photos (mysteriously free of damage from salt, sand or seagull poop) are the last-known images Matthew Brady ever took of Abraham Lincoln. They’re worth zillions.

Damien Hirst buys them at auction; the money founds a home for the cats of wayward glassists. He displays the photos, along with my salt-dried corpse, at MOMA, in an exhibit that’s called the art event of the century. The surfers are stunned.

And somewhere I smile, having finally achieved my goal of being hung in an important museum.

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