Friday, March 12, 2010

Death Be Not Proud. Death Be Hilarious!


It’s not a pleasant thing to think about. None of us, young or old, want to think about our expiration date. It could be tomorrow, it could be 80 years from now. We don’t know. All we have is the faith that our belief in God will grant our souls eternal life, and in the meantime, we make the best of our time on Earth.

But this post is not about religion. It’s not about how to live life, either. It’s about unpleasant ways to end it all, or have it all ended for you. My current job involves vital records…public information archived by the State of Texas, and amended when necessary. When a person is born, it is recorded. When a person dies, it is similarly documented. The information for these events is readily available to the public, but very few people ever get to see the big picture.

I do.

Birth certificates, for all practical purposes, are boring. Another baby born…big deal. Every human being is born, and rarely is there anything unique about it. Everybody pops out of their mothers’ womb and exits the vagina the same way their fathers’ sperm came in. That’s biology. That’s life. That’s the way God made things. Every creature on Earth is born, and every creature on Earth dies.

But HOW do they die?

Most die of natural causes at an old age. Heart problems, cancer, and various vital organ failures are not pretty, but once a person gets past age 80, they’re pretty much par for the course.

Many people die much earlier. Here comes the funny part.

Accidents happen, but the deadly ones are usually preventable.

Take, for instance, a man who met his end by opening the door of a moving vehicle to retrieve his baseball cap. He was the driver! Needless to say, his official cause of death was listed as “Impact with pavement.’

Another death listed as a vehicle accident was given this brief explanation: “Motorcycle vs. tree.” The tree, presumably, emerged victorious.

Metal workers need to be careful on the job. The explanation for one occupational demise said: “Fell in vat of molten aluminum”. I’m not sure what they did for the funeral on that guy…did they have to shine him up for the open-casket viewing?

A young child’s death was listed as an accidental poisoning: “Fell in bucket of Pine Sol.”

One man was burned to death. The description for that one could only happen in Texas: “Allegedly burning cactus, clothes caught fire.”

Thousands of people die from drug use and abuse. In the unfortunate case of one individual, smuggling them was deadly as well. Cause of death: “Accidental Recreational Drug Ovedose”. Explanation: Ingested balloon containing cocaine.

Murder is bad any way you look at it. But if you’re caught in the act, as one man was, expect to join your victim in the hereafter. A Mexican man died of “multiple gunshot wounds”. Explanation: “Shot to death by military police while murdering his wife.”

Suicides happen all the time, but in some cases they don’t go according to plan. One person’s cause of death was listed as “Severe head trauma”, and the explanation was as follows: “Apparent suicide attempt: died upon impact with floor after rope broke.”

One fellow met his end from a gunshot, but not from a murder or suicide. Instead, his death was listed as accidental, explained as “gunshot wound to nose”. Careful when you’re cleaning those guns, folks…always keep the muzzle pointed in a SAFE direction!

Drinkers: when the bartender cuts you off, take their word for it. Otherwise, you might wind up like the guy who died of “Acute ethanol intoxication”.

And finally (for now), it must be noted that the wording of some death explanations is at times redundant, and typos are common.

One such listing was a double-whammy of an unfortunate name and a redundant wording: Bambi Dick died of “Accidental death, apparently in accident.”

A routine vehicular accident isn’t funny in and of itself. But if it happens on a “Pubic highway” (Note the absence of the “L”), well, that just gives it a whole new meaning!

As long as people keep dying in unusual or humorous ways, this post is sure to become the first in a series. Stay tuned!

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