Ask not for whom the bell tolls — no, really, don’t ask


That old grim-reaper reaps us all in eventually, hopefully later rather than sooner, especially if you are somebody I hold dear and truly if you are somebody I hold really dear – like me, for example.

But, I’m not here to talk about death – well, yeah, I am, but in more of a roundabout way. What I really want to talk about is magazines.

Being of a certain generation (i.e. old) I still like to read magazines. And all magazines have, by their very nature, a ‘last page’. And the normal style is for the last page to have a certain feature unique to that mag. Vanity Fair, for example, has the Proustian questionnaire, in which somebody of some sort of note in somebody’s eyes answers questions that range from the profound to the profane to the outright silly as in: “If you were reincarnated as an animal, what would it be?” I honestly don’t really care if Gwynneth Paltrow wants to come back as an Afghan – in that I mean the dog breed not some Taliban terrorist.

Esquire (which I have never really forgiven for axing their annual ‘Dubious Achiever’s feature), often concludes with some bit of satirical whimsy, some of which is quite subtle and often very funny. Time (yes, it still exists) closes with questions of a notable also. The last one I saw was questioning Barry Gibb, now the sole remaining Bee-Gee. “Here he is, folks, the Brother Gibb.” As for Playboy, I have no idea. That was why God invented porn surfing.

macleansBut, Canada’s own Maclean’s features on its final page a thing called ‘The End’, which is an extensive obituary of some person who recently passed away. That’s pretty dreary. I mean, it’s true that once you reach a certain age the reading of the obits becomes a mandated obsession. But, do I want to conclude my reading of a mag about stuff in my home and native land with a tale of somebody who didn’t manage to cheat the Reaper? And often the person is not one who dies at 97 after a fulfilling life safely tucked in his or her own bed. No, it will be some poor man or woman who is smites by a giant icicle falling on his or her head at age 47 after a lifetime of caring for the needy or handicapped. That really sucks.

I get suckered in by these things and will end up reading them through, sometimes vainly hoping that nothing bad will happen to this person – which would kind of defeat the point of the exercise. But often, in the reading of the piece, which is usually composed by a friend or family member I will find myself getting wound up in the life of another and will find myself thinking, ‘please don’t snuff this person, I have come to like this person’.

I have a suggestion, which I know Maclean’s won’t act on, but it would serve me better, but if you insist on running ‘The End’, why not make the stories about the lives of real assholes and then I won’t care at all if they shuffle off this mortal coil in an untimely manner.


6 responses to “Ask not for whom the bell tolls — no, really, don’t ask

  1. I do not read any of those magazines (in fact, Readers Digest is the only one I do read off and on) so unaware of such articles. But my friends are constantly sending me strange “things” through Facebook–Take this test to find out which of the 7 dwarfs you would be; find out how much of a bitch you are; how do yu rate on the smartness scale, etc.
    It drives me crazy!! Where do they find all of this stuff?? WHY??
    As for the grim reaper, I am planning to hide from him and find all the anti-reaper things to do to ward him off! I plan to live to 103, and maybe by then they will have come up with a way to put my “essence”, brain and self into a new body–preferably one I can choose!

  2. I don’t really have the time for reading much these days but kind of like your obit ending idea. So many obits are just so obviously fiction that I have a hard time getting in to them anymore. I’ve written a few and they are just showing the most positive parts of a person’s life, not how they blew up over coffee grounds on counters and had a weird nose-picking habit.

    And as for Gweneth, she probably wants to come back as an Afghan – blanket that is.

    • There was an outrageous obit printed in one of the local newspapers a couple of weeks ago that was so honest and outrageous that it went internationally viral. It was priceless. No mention of chronic nose picking, however.

  3. I don’t get the obit thing. My MIL is obsessed by them. Hopefully I will never get to that point. I’m sure if I need to know someone is dead, someone will get word to me…

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