What a Way to Die!

For some time now, people have been dying like crazy. I am against death because it seems to me to be very unprofessional. A true pro tries never to die, and, if he does, he waits until his absence can be taken in by the world without traumas. As a journalist, I feel violated by the accumulation of obituaries in recent days. I keep writing articles in memory of people I had never remembered before. I’m considering going on strike like the UAW. Doesn’t anyone care about us? People die with no thought for others, showing an absolute lack of sensitivity to work schedules of those of us who have to write the obituaries. We always have the regular obituaries in the chamber, i.e., those of Fidel Castro, SpongeBob SquarePants, and Elvis Presley. But to have people die when they were alive is an abuse bordering on labor exploitation.

Death is defined as the rather definite feeling of lifelessness. I don’t remember if the phrase is Einstein’s or Kim Kardashian’s. It manifests itself in many different ways, the clearest of which is the weeping of friends and the toasting of enemies. The death of a celebrity is louder than the death of an anonymous character because it makes the newspapers, unless you decide to die walking into the White House wielding a water pistol — then you also make the front page with more holes in your head than a sieve. At the death of a star, people cry on demand — an enviable skill — posing at the morgue as if they were at the Cannes Film Festival. The latest trend is to take selfies with the deceased. I just pray they don’t make the corpse dance for TikTok.

The death of an athlete causes a minute of silence in the next competition; that of a singer, a tribute album; that of a politician, a million eulogies that are lies; and that of a writer, a great relief in the profession, which inevitably thinks, “One less competitor!”

Poets say that love does not die with death, which shows that they lack any scientific notion about the transit from one state to the other. Everyone knows that death implies that the heart stops. If the heart is still beating, someone has screwed up at the hospital, and the burial is going to be distressing. There is no worse corpse than one that is alive, just as there is no worse living being than the one that is dead and does not know it.

The plague of fallen celebrities in recent years is not likely to stop. At this rate, by the end of February there will be two dozen humans left on the planet, and we’ll be clueless as to who to bomb. How tedious. It’s always the same. The best thing about wars is that they give you a fancy excuse to die: the flag. People like to die for something important, or, at least, for something serious enough to excuse their absence at soccer next Sunday. The most dishonorable thing that can be written in an epitaph is that “he didn’t die of anything serious.”

I imagine death happening like someone might accidentally step on you, albeit like an elephant accidentally stepping on an ant. On that note, looking at the latest newspapers, someone should stop giving whiskey to elephants for a while. And at the very least, out of politeness, out of respect for other people’s leisure time, important people should stop dying of vice. The good Lord must be out shopping at this time, or maybe he has too many vacancies in Heaven. I don’t know, but, as a journalist, I demand my right to a weekend without relevant deaths, so that I can rest in peace.

Translated by Joel Dalmau.

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