Buffalos Bill’s/Defunct E. E. Cummings
I was listening to the latest Jack Reacher novel this morning when Reacher and his new sidekick encountered an “assisted suicide center.” The Center coupled soft lights, comfortable furniture and piped in music to a fatal dose of Nembutal. No, I am not going to discuss the pros and cons of assisted suicide, though I will remind you that Jack “Dr. Death” Kevorkian, the notorious euthanasia proponent, was a pathologist. What I started ruminating on was that piped in music. What is the last melody, lyric, or note that I would want to hear as I peacefully drifted into my final rest?
I don’t have a single song that I could call a favorite, any more than I have a favorite play, novel, or movie. Different times/moods/situations all lead to different choices for what I want to read/watch/listen to. A sunny vacation day at the beach calls for different tunes than sitting cramped in an airliner with the engines vibrating and my noise cancelling headphones clamped on my head. And while I think “Platoon” is the best war movie I have ever seen, I surely don’t want to be immersed in the jungles of Vietnam every time I want to go to the show. Besides, Barb would never stand for it. That is another thing about favorites. They are meant to be shared.
A favorite should survive multiple exposures. I am not talking about a twenty four hour marathon of “A Christmas Story” or “It’s a Wonderful Life” on Netflix. But sitting through a road show of “Les Miserables,” or catching an episode of “Seinfeld” on the tube, will always be satisfying. I have a harder time convincing myself to reread a favorite book. I would rather dig into an authors newest work than pull out his or her old one, though that strategy doesn’t help me much with John Steinbeck. I loved “East of Eden,” but I doubt I am getting anything new from Mr. S.
I don’t read much poetry, but I do have a favorite poem. I am not sure how much of “The Wasteland” I really understood when I studied it in college, but I can still recite a stanza or two. And I get a kick out of Cummings’ “Buffalo Bill,” though I can’t say I have much of an opportunity to refer to it in daily conversation.
So what would I want piped in as the Nembutal took me away? The song that immediately comes to my mind is “One.” I just hope those helping me make the transition get it right. It’s the U2 song, not the one by 3 Dog Night. On my way out I won’t need to be reminded that one is the loneliest number!
What is the last sound you would want to hear? Comment here, or send your thoughts to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If I get enough contributions, I will print a list in a future blog.
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