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Post obitum

If I should succumb to some lingering disease instead of the hangman’s noose, and my obituary should include the words “after a long battle with,” I solemnly pledge that I will return from the dead and torment that obituary writer all the days he remains on this side of the ground.


Posted by John McIntyre at 4:52 PM | | Comments (10)


Especially if it doesn't say "after a long courageous battle with", as if to imply you fought with cowardice.

Do you just want to "die," or do you want to "pass" (on, away or over)? Or maybe you'd rather "catch the early flight to heaven" or be "enfolded into the bosom of the Lord"? (Yes, those last ones are real)

Prof. McI.,

How about a conflated obit of sorts, i.e., after a long battle w/ the hangman's noose (sloppy executioner), he finally succumbed?

They don't make those hefty nooses like way back in the day, and those confounded trap-doors have been known to malfunction on occasion.

The guillotine seemed to be a much more efficient, quicker mode of ultimate dispatch (THWACK! PLUNK!), but such arcane execution devices have fallen out of favor these days.

Those blood-letting Mayans were some expert decapitators, though. At least they predicated the head lop w/ removing the unfortunate victim's pulsating heart. Subsequently, head(s) would roll, tumbling down the sacred granite temple steps, as the transfixed audience looked on in shock and awe.

Hmm......... somehow, death by lethal injection, or the electric chair are looking relatively humane compared to the ancient Mayan sacrificial ritual.

But enough of all this talk of death.

There are cheerier things to mull and muse over, no?


P.S.: ----You can malign actor/ director Mel Gibson, ad nausea, for his much-publicized personal failings and asinine actions, but I highly recommend his movie from a few years back titled "Apocalypto", which, for me, captured the passion and graphic ritual brutality of the Mayan monarchs. Gibson directed this spellbinding film, and seemed to give us a fairly faithful fictive narrative of Mayan historical reality. Warning: this film is not for the faint at heart.

Not even "after a long battle with prescriptivists"?

I don't expect an obituary, but if I should be buried I would like the inscription on my gravestone to be the same as that on the grave of the very much missed Spike Milligan (though his is in Gaelic):

"I told you I was ill."

You also don't want your obituary to include the phrase "the governor refused a last-minute request for clemency."

Long battle, short battle, this theoretical obit at least mentions the cause of death. In some circles, that's refreshing.

Shortly before local, staff-written obits became a rarity, it became common for families and funeral directors to successfully keep the cause out of the obit. Got to the point that it seemed omitted by default at some papers.

It's still OK if you have a long battle with an angry bear or something like that, though, right?

My mother and I used to giggle over the alleged - or mythical - epitaph on the gravestone of a chronic hypocondriac: "I told you I was sick, Elizabeth."

Patricia the T.,

Funnily, last week I came up w/ my own very similarly ironically tinged postmortem headstone message, but thought it was a tad too lame to post But what the hey.

It went. "I told you folks, it was more than just a head cold. Sniff!"

Another one was, "Hmm... there WASN'T a doctor in the house."

Or perhaps, "CPR is much over-rated."

And finally, " No plastic flowers, please."

Now you see why I never made it as a comic, or a gravestone scribe, for that matter. HA!

Hope you'll catch some of the Wimbeldon action over the next fortnight. Can't wait to see what gauche outfits veteran tennis commentator Bud Collins will be sporting this year. What a character.

I imagine most Brit tennis buffs are pulling for an Andy Murray victory, although as a Scotsman some English loyalists might reserve an asterisk in their personal record books for the talented lad if he manages to win the title.

Enjoy the matches...........and the strawberries and cream, Patricia.


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About John McIntyre
John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers’ work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun’s night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at
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