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Die Laughing

I want to die laughing.

I imagine it, this big final guffaw, watching a video of someone falling down or being attacked by a goose, just this terminal laughter, a giggle or a wheeze, that's the way to go out. We're all dying, just some of us faster than others, some are torn away and some drift off, but the destination is the same for each and every soul on this beautiful miserable planet.  Whether it be by accident or murdered by time, we are all on the same ride.

I want to be taken away by the Death of the Discworld, like I imagine Terry Pratchett did, the classic hooded skeleton, blue fire eyes.  On the Discworld, you pretty much always get what you expect; the afterlife is what you believe it to be.  I imagine Sir Terry, wherever he ended up, laughing his face off, turning his brilliance on the world itself, holding a funhouse mirror up to distort images into strange shapes, recognizable, but seen from a different perspective. Godspeed Sir Terry. Mind how you go, sir.

I want to die laughing.  I told my friend that if I die before he does, I want to be cremated, and then for everyone to have a big party and chop me up in lines and snort me.  Imagine it, holding out a rolled up twenty: you want another bump of the dear departed?  My friend refused to do it, said something about being sad or whatever blah de blah de blah, but I've got other friends, so guess what?  You can fuck off, Steve; consider yourself uninvited to my radical rockin' cremation party, you wet blanket.

I am terrified of death, and when I am scared, I laugh, when I am nervous or uncomfortable, I make stupid jokes.  I laugh when things are scary, so maybe I will die laughing, trying to cling to this stupid magical world.  Maybe I will go smiling, maybe I will be brave, though I doubt it; I have never been brave before, and a deathbed is no place to try new things.  I bet I go with a stupid joke on my lips, and as a last kicker, I will leave the punchline unsaid.  "So he looks at the guy, right, and he says... ERK," and then I keel over into my soup, leaving everyone to wonder what the guy said forever.  I bet it would bug the shit out of some people; they would be thinking of me forever. " ERK?" they would say to each other, "what the hell was that supposed to mean?"

There is a joke I used to love to tell, about a man who gets insulted by a clown at the circus and then enrolls in insult school to exact his revenge.  It is a hilarious joke, a real joy to tell.  It has room for as much detail as you would ever want to put into it.  I love the clown joke, though I rarely tell those kinds of jokes anymore.  I like to write jokes of my own now, I like to tell stories.  The best jokes are stories; there is the set up, and then the unexpected punchline.  Life is the set up.  The punchline comes at the end.

I want to die laughing, If I am going to die, that's how I want to go.  How else?  As a human cannonball, while jousting at the Renaissance Fair, mistaken for a rival secret agent, by home-made trebuchet, I want to dunk so hard that the rim crashes down on me.  I don't play basketball, so that last one is out, I suppose.  Maybe my last words will be "Hey guys, watch this!"

I heard this story about this guy my Dad knew, he had persistent back pain, and the chiropractor wasn't helping and nothing seemed to work, not Flexeril or yoga stretches, and he ends up going to the doctor who does a scan on him and reveals pancreatic cancer, and the guy dies in a few days, just like that.  I've got back pain right now.  I know it's because I slouch in my office chair, because I have done too little to strengthen my core muscles, because I have done too much heavy lifting when I worked for UPS and ignored all five keys of safe lowering and lifting (get close, position feet, bend at knees, grasp opposite corners, lift in a smooth steady motion).  I know it's because I have fallen on my ass too many times to count, because I still ride a skateboard sometimes even though I'm nearly forty, because my mattress is old and worn out, because I'M old and worn out, or because shit man, sometimes shit hurts, you know?  That's how you know you're still alive. It could be all of these things or none of them, but I'm pretty sure its pancreatic cancer, and I won't go to the doctor to have it confirmed.

I've got three other novels outlined, and about a million shorts, and poems and blogs and words, a million words, a trillion, a bazillion fucking words that fill my goddamn head at all hours while I stare at the ceiling and try to sleep, words that rattle and bang around inside my skull until I have to write them down just so I can get some peace and quiet, but they always return, there's always more, and I have heard of writer's block but I don't believe it is a real thing, and what if I just go batshit crazy and lose my ability to determine what is real and what is a story that I am making up and what is my real life, and I think given the choice between if my mind goes or my body first, I'll take the pancreatic cancer, thanks.

I want to die empty, having written all the words, told all the stories, made all the jokes and told everyone that I love them.  I want to die with a worn out passport.

I want to die laughing, just cracking up right in the face of Discworld's Death. I want to look in his blue fire eyes and say, "Hand over that kitten, I'm ready to go."

Still Writing,



Obviously this one is a bit dark and maybe borderline inappropriate, but what the hell, this is how I work shit out.  I am currently on social media hiatus, so please don't get offended if I am not responding to you, or liking your stupid memes or whatever.  If you really want to tell me something, feel free to comment here, or also send me an email if you want: dissent.within at  I'm probably eventually coming back to Twitter, @RDPullins. Follow me, and if you're not a psycho, maybe I'll follow you back.  Review my book, read everyone else's, be kind to one another, call your mom, tell her that you love her. Peace.

People I know, do me a favor: could you stop dying, please?  This shit is getting old.

Godspeed, Mike.



  1. Awesome Ralph! Unfortunately I am not going to be at your bad ass rocking death party either.. Steve and I can mourn you're death like normal people.. Very sad and uncomfortable. Love you

  2. " a deathbed is no place to try new things.."
    That's fucking genius, man. I'm probably a bad person for laughing at that, but then again, that's no surprise. Keep up the fight! You're doing great.
    P.s. I'm not snorting your ashes either, buddy. Toodles.

  3. I don't find any of this essay to be inappropriate or uncomfortable. I think it's funny and honest. I think it takes incredible talent and a bit of genius crazy, which is the best kind of crazy, to take a subject that is taboo and ugly and make it beautiful with words, a lofty aspiration that is most certainly not lost on me. Seriously, tremendous talent. You probably don't have pancreatic cancer and I would pass on the snorting human remains thing (THAT cannot be healthy) but you are the most prolific writer I have read in a LONG time, such a joy to read your work. =)

  4. Thank you. I'm glad you liked it. I am always scared that my intention will be lost or misinterpreted. I hesitated before pressing the post button on this one. But, it is my firm belief that the things you are scared to share are the things that need to be shared the most.

  5. That is seriously my favorite line in the whole thing. The snorting ashes thing is a stolen idea, but I don't remember from where, but that is a real conversation I had with my friend Steve, who sometimes comments on this site, many years ago. The line "I want to die with a worn out passport" is also stolen from a song by a band called (somewhat ironically) The Copyrights.

  6. I love you too. You won't have to worry about the party; we're going out together, Notebook-style. Or maybe Thelma and Louise.

  7. It's not inappropriate at all. It's honest and "real" (as much as I loathe that term). Our own mortality, and those of our friends and family, become more of a focus as we get older and race towards the great unknown. I know I probably spend a little too much time thinking about death. It's weird to think that you might not EVER see someone again. So, thanks for writing this. You way more better at words than I am. Love and miss you.

  8. This is all tricky stuff to write about. I wanted it to be sort of warm and funny, like: It is about death, but, you know, cute. I think I succeeded and failed at the same time. Pretty stoked to get in a clown joke reference though. Love you too, dude.


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