Finally, the stewardess brings me my goddamn Bloody Mary.
She actually said, Drink it slow because this is your last one. I've had three, big deal. Have I been unruly? I asked nicely. Her cat-ass lips puckered as she lurched away. (The indignity of coach. What better proof of my fall from grace? And now the smell of baking chocolate chip cookies wafts down from first class to torment me, to remind me of all I've lost....)
You may be wondering why I had decided to end my life. I got ahead of myself with the suicide note problem. Well, it's all about majesty, Tina.
My career was in the toilet. Hollywood graciously let me, some nobody shiksa from Shawnee Falls, Ohio, into the magic kingdom, and I blew it. Three years at Universal and the only movie I made was a hamster picture that grossed less than we spent on catering. Then I'm on the street, without a hit or enough friends to dine out on. A script of Don Quixote I'd optioned with my last ten grand had just been passed on by every studio in town. I had no love, thanks to Michael's mysterious departure, and what were the chances of my meeting someone truly wonderful and marrying him and conceiving a child before my last egg dropped? About the same odds of my father winning the Ohio Mega Millions Lotto. So, no family to live for. No career. No cash. No hope.
What's more, I'm not the blonde I used to be. Highlights weren't cutting it; I needed about three processes every eight weeks or I'd be found out, and, perhaps the final straw (pardon the pun), a new stubborn pubicky hair had sprouted over the right corner of my mouth, a truly horrendous harbinger of a mustache soon to follow. A mustache! Things were bleak before that phone call and I don't think that's an exaggeration. I don't think you can say I was being negative here. (A mustache!) Jimmy Stewart had a helluva lot more to live for when he tried to off himself in It's a Wonderful Life. What's incredible is that given how utterly pathetic most people's lives are, more people don't do it.
I'd kill for a cigarette. When you're strapped into a twenty-ton tin can miles above the earth, surrounded by stinking humanity, and you're flying to the scene of the crime, aka your childhood home, you simply need a cigarette. Here's another good reason to die. You can't smoke anywhere anymore. The Reign of Virtue is winning, Tina. You watch. You're going to wake up one day and find they've taken all the fun out of living.
I know what you're thinking. Sure. Eventually I might have gotten another midlevel, unsatisfying job, and a midlevel, unsatisfying marriage to go with it; with the help of science, maybe even some midlevel, unsatisfying kids, too, who, when I was a retired and unfulfilled midlevel film executive, would hate me for being neither famous nor a good parent - sure, all this could be mine, but the question is, where was the majesty? Some people feel it when they make a stock market killing, get a promotion, or see their kid make a touchdown, some when they win an Oscar, run a marathon, and if you're one of those lucky bastards, you might even feel the majesty one morning when you see the sun rise, or a butterfly land on a sunflower, blah, blah, blah. Knowing myself as well as I do, I knew majesty would not be found in the life that was yawning before me, and that's when it hit me like one of those embroidered pillows: if you can't live a majestic life, die a majestic death.
Ideally this would be in the line of nonprofit duty in Africa or India. Gunned down by guerrillas while spooning rice into a starving but gorgeous brown child's mouth. Or something more (seemingly) spontaneous and heroic: after I pulled Steven Spielberg's drowning child or perhaps a chihuahua out of the flooded Los Angeles River, my body would be swept to sea. That'd be majestic.
Or I could rid the world of some scum - take out some white supremacists, a corrupt cop or pedophile - before turning the handgun on myself. I'd like to do something noble, but I was feeling too desperate to organize that kind of opportunity. Just killing myself would be simpler and quicker, and I enjoyed imagining all my friends and enemies reading about my death and feeling real sorry for what they'd done or not done as the case may be. The only thing stopping me was the note, which is why I was still alive when the phone rang yesterday and changed my plans.
Copyright © 2004 by Elisabeth Robinson
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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