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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

DETERMINATION

I gotta admire the determination of the fifty year old Japanese inmate of Fuchu Prison who committed suicide last February 19th by stabbing himself in the head with the broken end of one of his chopsticks. This was, I guess, the final proof that you should never play with your food. One can only thank God the gentleman in question was not restrained in a western prison where he could have stabbed himself with a bread knife, or worse, a Swedish prison where he might have had access to a deadly spork. But, as it was, this spunky, determined manic depressive found a way to kung fu himself to death with his eating utensils. Now that was a demented determination
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But the winner in the “determined to do something stupid” award – if ever there were such an atrocious thing – would to be the 46 year old coal miner Alan Urwin of Great Britain whose wife left him in 1994. Over the next three months Alan survived three separate drug overdoses. Not one to be discouraged easily Alan then decided to electrocute himself by wrapping a bare electric cord around his naked body and climbing into a full bathtub. He then plugged himself into the wall. He blew a fuse and suffered a damn good shock. However, showing a real “never-say-die” spirit, Alan then bent the wire to form a noose, which he suspended from an overhead beam. He stood on a chair, slipped his head into the noose and jumped into eternity, or would have except the wire was too thin to support his weight. The wire snapped under the tension, and Alan landed on his butt. Still not deterred Alan then broke the gas pipe in his room, laid down next to the open end and breathed deeply for several minutes. But even though the tiny house was now filled with toxic fumes, much to Alan’s dismay he was still alive. He grew impatient, and struck a match. The resulting explosion blew the roof off his room, and blew out one of the walls. Alan suffered nothing worse than flash burns. However his career as a dead man was cut short because he was convicted of arson and given two years probation, with the requirement that he undergo psychological counseling. Having finally gotten the message that the universe had been so persistently trying to deliver, Alan went into therapy and a year later was described as “cheerful and speaking to his wife again”: not that he wanted her to feel bad or anything.
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According to the Taiwan Fortean Times, a couple in Taiwan took the old adage “…till death do you part…” a little too literally. In-laws and out-laws from both families opposed the match of Corporal Huang pin-jen and his transvestite boy-girlfriend, Chang Shu-mei. But, seemingly determined to prove that no matter how sad and pathetic your life may seem, an attempted suicide can always reduce it to the level of farce, our forbidden couple decided to commit a romantic joint suicide. They jammed their heads into a large plastic bag and tied it off at the neck. But the tension (or maybe his/her partner’s breath), induced one of them to nausea, and he/she/they threw up in the bag, reducing the level of romance substantially and forcing the other to choose vomit before death. He chose death first and clawed his way out of the bag, inadvertently rescuing his companion at the same time. How disapointing.

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The devoted lunatics then tried to drive off a gorge along the Central Cross-Island Highway, intending, if they survived the crash, to drown in the river far below. But they missed the river and landed instead in a cushion of trees and bushes which left them unfortunately uninjured. In desperation they checked into the honeymoon suite at the two-star Samantha Hotel in Taipei. (It has since closed). After a romantic last supper they tied bed sheets together to form a pair of nooses, which they then attached to ceiling rods. But they were inexperienced in suicide attempts and had misjudged the length of their suicide pact. When they jumped from their chairs they landed on their feet and broke through the ceiling of the room below. Luckily for them, the crackerjack staff of the Samantha Hotel failed to notice the wrecked ceiling right away. So the lovebirds had time to use the gas powered fireplace to put a coda on their love. They fed several coins into the unit, turned the flames up full and then blew them out. They quickly passed out from the toxic fumes, but the timer on the gas jets ran out before the boys numbers came up. They woke up several hours later with splitting headaches.

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And finally, in mounting desperation, the boys leapt, hand in hand, out their 12th story window. What could possibly be more romantic than that? It was a beautiful gesture – as long as you didn’t have to pickup the crumpled broken and bloody bodies off the ground. But then it’s the thought that counts, isn’t it? Unfortunately, no, it’s not: because once again the fates were opposed to this union, especially in death. The boys somehow missed the street below their 12th story window, and landed instead on the tin roof of a five story restaurant. They thundered through the roof and landed on a lobster tank, temporarily freeing dozens of doomed crustaceans, at least those that were not crushed instantly (a bunch of damned unlucky lobsters, if you ask me), and finishing their adventures in insanity by landing on a banquet table.

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The boys suffered numerous fractures and cotusions and bruising but were finally in stabilized in stable condition at a local hospital. And when their families heard how dedicated pin-jen and Shu-mei were to killing each other, both families agreed to accept the match. I can’t wait for the relatives reaction when the couple decides to have children.


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The lesson I take from all of this is that no matter how crappy your life may feel, you can always make it worse by trying to kill yourself. Don't be an idiot. Stick around and be miserable, like the rest of us. It's only fair.

- 30 -

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