A Last Line Before Dying

Okay, the subject of this post needs explaining. No, I'm not posting a suicide letter to the web. I have a lot to live for, like Tuesday night's U2 concert. I mean, sure, I could commit suicide NOW, and I will have seen Tuesday night's U2 concert, but then I wouldn't be able to see future U2 concerts. Of course, this could also be true if one or several of the memebers of U2 committed suicide now too. Which means that I didn't commit suicide for no reason.

Well, not for no reason. Just not that reason, because it would be moot (not mute, morons-who-misuse-this-term. MOOT. Know it.)

But there's also more to live for than just U2 concerts, I suppose. Like butter cookies, or watching a baby giraffe learn to walk. But it's the U2 concert that reminded me of an assignment I had to do in high school, where we were tasked with writing a letter to someone, assuming it's the last letter we'll ever write before we die. And why did the U2 concert remind me of that? Well, now you're asking me to explain how my brain works. And if I understood THAT, I'd probably never need to write again.

I think it's one of those long chain association things, where going to this show reminded me of going to the shows in high school, which reminded me of how many people thought it was weird that I was into U2, considering my affinity for Public Enemy and the Rollins Band, and how no one there really understood anything about me anyway, especially my teachers, which is where the memory of this stupid letter assignment came from.

I remember the teacher, Mrs. Williams, explaining in detail how the assignment should make us feel. Do we have things we wish we'd said that we haven't said? Is there anyone we've wronged that we wish to apologize to? Anyone in our lives who did something wonderful who we never thanked?

But the assignment on the board said, rather clearly: "A Last Line Before Dying: write a letter to someone in your life as if it's the last letter you'll write before you die."

We were asked to read our letters aloud to the class - which, as an aside, I now realize was a VERY unfair thing to ask teenagers to do. Think about it - you've just asked a 15 year old to spill their guts about something they're horribly remorseful for or share a private moment of thanks with their peer group. And perhaps this whole endeavor was in the spirit of freeing us and having us write in the moment or whatever... Bu knowing Mrs. Williams, I think she just got off on watching people in pain.

Anyway, so people read their letters aloud, and they typically fell into one of the two categories I mentioned above. "I'm so sorry I forgot to feed your cat and it died," "You were there for me when my parents divorced and I never thanked you," "I wish I'd gone bungee jumping with the rest of the wrestling team," all of that.

To the best of my ability, I've recreated my letter below:

Dear Clara,

Yeah, I agree completely, Seinfield is definitely one of the best shows on TV. I don't get much time to watch it these days - not that I'm busy or anything, it's just that my dad has put me on restriction from TV... Again. I think I've seen three programs on television in the past year. I did get my TV back last week, but then report cards came out yesterday and, as usual, five F's and an A in PE... So. Last night, in a tizzy, he unplugged it and put it on the shelf above my desk, where' it's been precariously perched since. It doesn't really fit up there. But he wanted to give me a constant reminder of what I'd be missing out on until I bring my grades up... AGAIN.

Anyway, I've been drawing a lot lately and have been considering submitting my work to a comics publisher... AGAIN. I know I write a lot of the same things every single week, but that's pretty much what goes on in my life. If it's not football or wrestling, it's restriction and drawing. And the occasional trip to the Emergency room.

I've had quite a bit of coffee this evening, and can't really hold my leg still. I'm shaking the entire desk (and probably the rest of the room) with the insane bouncing. It's making drawing difficult. I'm just glad I have my headphones on so I don't have to hear the toys and crap on my shelf clack and bang. I swear, one of these days something's going to...

Only instead of "..." i had a long streak of ink trailing from the o.

When I read this aloud to the class, everyone was confused. Mrs. Williams asked me just what the heck any of that had to do with my feelings before death.

I explained to her that I had more than 20 different pen pals - some international, some I met at the crazy Christian camps my parents sent me to during the summer. But I LOVED writing letters (and still do - thanks to email, i'm down to only three people I trade actual pen-and-paper letters with, but hey, I'm always up for more if you're bored and promise you'll write back). I wrote one a day, just about every day, to various people.

And I realized, if I was going to write one last letter before I died, it was likely to be to one of those fine people - and more than likely, it'd have been to Clara, a girl I traded two letters a week with. And I also realized, since I'm not the suicide type and death rarely comes when we expect it, that it'd more than likely not be all that interesting.

Some of the kids in the class caught on, and thought it was pretty funny. Mrs. Williams gave me an F.

I hated high school. But I loved the U2 show the other night.

...Hey, you signed up to read this thing, I didn't hold a gun to your head... Or drop a TV on it.