I am turning 28 on the 19th of this month. That is 12 days from today.
I have found that much is made of birthdays in Los Angeles, and everyone seems to feel an obligation to do “something.” If it’s not a house party, then people invariably cobble together a bar night, which seems to say, “Hey, come stand around at that place we always go stand at … only this time, I’ll be holding a balloon.”
That’s why this year, I’ll commemorate my not-such-a-milestone by carrying out one task before the date actually arrives: I will narrowly cheat death at all costs.
Yes, there are a manner of dark specters looming over my 28th birthday, and, while avoidable; all of them threaten to choke the life right out of me. I don’t mean to appear grim, somber, or morose, but if I’m not extremely careful, the end could be as extremely (fucking) nigh as it was in 28 Days Later.
SEE? TWENTY EIGHT!
The threat is real, the taglines don’t lie. This ain’t no coincidence, ya’ll.
The first threat to my mortality is obviously “The 27 Club,” that elite but tragic group of legendary musicians who died before their 28th birthday. This club has claimed the likes of Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and most recently, Amy Winehouse. I know the threat doesn’t seem imminent, because I’m not a famous and revered musician, but I could become one at ANY moment. That’s why I’ve spent the last year intentionally NOT writing an amazing collection of songs.
Do I have ideas for amazing songs? Of course. I have scraps of paper all over my room that say things like “rock riff” + “sorta sad part” and “tribute to Uncle’s Army Jacket From Vietnam,” but that’s as far as I get. If I screw up and accidentally write the next “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” I’m DONE FOR.
Then there’s the premiere of the new horror film Final Destination 5, known in early entertainment news reports as 5nal Destination (the title was arguably scraped when an executive took a step back from a dry erase board, realized it looked like Anal Destination, and shut the whole thing down).
In these films, beautiful young (and usually white) people narrowly escape death, and then death comes back for them with a Rube Goldberg-ian flair. And as if this wasn’t terrifying enough, the fifth Final Destination film was released one week before my birthday.
That is plenty of time to avoid being hit by a car … and then, later that week, to be watching a car commercial, only to discover that the tv is shorting out, which I will tend to, ignoring my howling tea kettle, which will cause the wallpaper next to the stove to buckle from steam, which will cause a nail to come loose from the wall and fall in the burner, which will turn the nail into a flaming projectile attracted to the magnetic plate in my skull, which will have somehow become implanted there due to a medical procedure, coincidentally, only days prior.
If that sounds overly complicated or ludicrous, watch four minutes of any Final Destination film. Death is unavoidable, and it usually takes several steps to get there.
If these were the only threats to my mortality, I’d be in certain danger. But the fact that there are more leads me to think that I’m in bigger trouble than I could ever hope to be.
How, I ask you, could I ignore the vehicular threats that surround me constantly on my two-hour round trip commute to and from work? Or the murderous scorn from my boss, every time I fail to live up to his high expectations? The man CLEARLY goes to a gym! That strength can and WILL be used to snuff the life out of me with those strong and unreasonable hands. Or what about the nitrates, additives, and miscellaneous but no less terrifying other chemicals found in the food that I have no choice but to eat on weekends after a long night of drinking? What am I supposed to do, NOT EAT THEM? No, I have no say in the matter, and that is why my body’s been turned into a ticking time bomb.
It’s now up to me to narrowly avoid death until August 19th. If I can make it that far, I know I’ll be out of the woods. Until, of course, I find my self in the literal woods, upon which I will be hunted and eaten by bears, which everyone knows are unavoidable. This body is but a pic-a-nic basket, and my insides, the sandwiches.
Happy Birthday, indeed.
Dave Horwitz is a writer and performer from Massachusetts currently living in Los Angeles. He can be seen onstage regularly at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in LA and is the co-author of the book Dealbreaker: The Complete List Of Dating Offenses, out now on Running Press. He’s created and developed several series with his production group, Sorry Dad, and resides online at theidiotking.tumblr.com. Visit him on the internet for all of your puppy picture and pizza commentary needs.
Stacy Elaine Dacheux is a writer & artist from Massachusetts as well. Her art accompanies Dave’s article above. This particular series was shot when she was 20 and exploring concepts of “camp” and “death” in relation to portraiture. The posing models are Stacy’s sister and brother-in-law, whom both kindly allowed her to dress them up all bloody in the spirit of art. She is forever grateful. They have happily defied death and been married to each other for 10 years now.
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