the dangerous business of pooping
(originally posted 8/16/2012)
And so I guess it begs the question “can you be haunted by someone you never met?”
Or better yet “can people commit suicide on a whim?”
Perhaps a little more info is in order.
Statistically speaking, if you went to a large university then there is a preponderance of likelihood that you knew someone that was killed as you attended school. It’s almost part of the experience, the ‘dealing with the fact that life is short and we are frail’ portion of your education. It leads to much drinking and soul-searching and having sex while you still can.
I almost had two lessons in this except for some lucky grounds keeping. No lie, a girl jumped out of her 22nd story dorm room but landed on some sod that had just been laid down and somehow walked away from it. I swear. You could actually see her imprint in the ground for days afterwards. The remainder of that entire day, in a telling example of how college kids process such human tragedies, people opened their windows and cranked Van Halen’s Jump and the Pointer Sisters, you guessed it, Jump.
But she lived so she is not part of this haunting.
Although it does make you wonder if people have to actually die to haunt you. I mean, she’s still up here in my head kicking around isn’t she?
Sloshing around in my memory with the guy that didn’t live. He was a very close friend of one of my close friends. Therefore I got this big life lesson second hand, which is almost the best way to learn anything. Maybe that’s why it took so long to get haunted by it.
He was, by all accounts, a great guy with a lot to live for. Is it me or does that seem to describe most college-aged people that die? He got hit by a train. The tracks ran right through campus but this was out in the middle of a corn field in the Midwest so there were no Japanese-style magnetic monorail 200 mph haul-ass trains hauling ass through town. They were just slow freight trains blowing our minds regularly as this one little engine up front would be dragging a hundred cars filled with iron and other such heavy objects, seemingly defying everything we were learning about objects in motion and getting them that way to begin with.
Obviously he was very drunk when he got hit but it was still amazing that he got hit at all. The Midwest is flat as fuck and you could see these things coming for days.
But he was very drunk apparently.
Which is why sometimes the idea that he stepped out in front of it on purpose would seem to make sense. How else can someone get hit by a train like that? Now you see why I asked about whether or not you need a lot of time to contemplate suicide or if it can suddenly occur to you and seem appealing. Of course, nobody at the time would even whisper that maybe he just looked at the oncoming train and wondered what it would feel like to have himself cut in half. Actually I don’t even remembered thinking it at the time.
The school grieved. He had worked for the school paper so the ‘press’ made a point of remembering him as the greatest funniest sweetest human being that had ever walked the planet. But even before that, the very night it happened, you could see that it shook everyone pretty deeply. Back when we could all be so easily shaken. In particular my friend who was one of his best friends.
She laughed long and hard at the stupid way he died, laughed until tears were rolling down her face, and then we didn’t see her again for two days.
After 48 hours we wondered if we would ever see her again. We all fought the urge to check for her nears the tracks.
This was before the politically correct days of college so we didn’t have to endure subsequent lectures and articles about alcohol and trains and how they don’t mix, even in country and western songs. Especially in country and western songs.
Unless there is a dog or an ex-wife involved.
I don’t remember his name. Is that callous of me? I really don’t. No idea at all. Not even Google could help.
So one minute he was full of life and cheap beer and the next he’s a corpse. And the next he’s a memory. And then not even that.
And after that is it fair to say that after you forget him and then suddenly he comes back into your head that he is haunting you? Not in a scary, chase you around the house at midnight way, but still giving you goosebumps as you sit on the toilet and he makes an appearance out of nowhere.
The lesson he was trying to teach has been taught so many times now that I no longer give a flying crap about the obituaries because now they are only filled with “better them than me” faces. Read most of them and suddenly getting hit by a train when you’re drunk doesn’t seem so bad. So, whenever possible, don’t read them.
I wonder if he still sneaks up on my friend when she’s on the toilet minding her own business.
I know many of you are still wondering about my clumsy use of the word preponderance in my fourth sentence. I don’t know, I just wanted to use the word without feeling obliged to follow it with “of evidence” which is the only way I’ve ever seen it used.
I wonder who he would have been.
I wonder about the girl that jumped 22 stories into the soft grass, got up and then left school. Even though she didn’t die, I wonder who she would have been if she hadn’t jumped.
I bet she does too. She saves a step and haunts herself.
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