My front porch is slippery. Whenever it rains, the painted concrete becomes difficult to navigate in my Wallabees because their oh-so-stylish crepe soles are just not very non-slip. I have managed to hydroplane my way onto my ass several times, and without fail, the thing that goes through my head as I fall gracelessly onto my coccyz is that it would be a particularly pathetic way to die and leave my family on their own.
I rehearse the needlessly cruel, John Irving-esque way in which my daughter will tell her friends that I died “descending”, my son’s refusal to use the front door to the house, my wife’s insistence on gaining ingress and egress through a window. Given my extremely low tolerance for the twee irony which passes for profundity in John Irving’s books, I grow depressed and descend my front steps at a pace which often prompts my mother-in-law to push me out of the way so that she can get outside, “Today, Grandpa”.
Which is why I find the barb-related death of Steve Irwin so utterly enervating. That guy didn’t worry about falling over in the bathtub. He probably didn’t wonder if every cramp in his left arm was the sign of an onrushing cardiac infarction (with the secondary worry of where the nearest bottle of aspirin might be). And yet, ultimately, would it comfort his widow any to know that it was no common slip-and-fall which turned her world upside down?
I can’t help but imagine his last moment, as he pulled that barb out of his chest, the surprise, the fear, the sense of disappointment. How much more depressing to be wondering why you chose gloss latex instead of eggshell.