What would you do if you only had one day to live?
In the words of the always profound Sean “P. Diddy” Combs: That’s some deep shit right there.
Deep shit I’d never had to consider – until a few days ago.
I was sitting in my office food court, eating an overpriced salad and reading The Sun Also Rises (basically being unattainably cool), when suddenly, I felt something sharp pierce the back of my throat. I quickly dismissed it as an unusually rough-edged goji berry; or perhaps a physical reaction evoked by Hemingway’s flawless prose (I’ve heard he has that effect on the ladies). Washing away any residual doubt with a swig of coconut water, I returned to my lunch. It was then that I noticed a piece of my plastic knife missing. A solid two centimetres – amputated right at the tip. Collateral damage, presumably, from a struggle with a particularly tenacious leaf of organic kale.
I searched frantically through my remaining salad for the rogue piece of plastic, but uncovered nothing but quinoa, chickpeas and despair. A slow trickle of panic began to seep over me as I realized what had gone down:
I had ingested a plastic utensil.
I felt like Homer Simpson upon discovering he had eaten a poisonous Fugu fish and had only twenty-two hours to live.
My short life flashed before my eyes. I can’t die, I thought, I don’t even have my own reality show yet.
It occurred to me that I had better tell someone; lest I fall into a deep coma, rendering me unable to communicate my transgression to the House: MD wannabe charged with my case. I shot off a few quick texts to friends and family, informing them of my certain and untimely demise.
In an attempt to quell my now-swelling waves of panic, I took to Google. Although several message boards assured me that it would inevitably “pass”, others provided harrowing tales of objects lodged in small intestines, internal bleeding, hemorrhaging and even death.
Since I am a pessimist with moderate to severe anxiety, I automatically feared the worst. I could die at any moment, right there in the food court. No one would even notice in the lunch hour rush. The cleaning lady would find me, hours later, slumped over my chair, book dangling limply in hand. “We don’t know much about her,” she would say, “Except that she loved salad, and contemporary classics”.
I needed to snap out of it. When Homer was given his death sentence, he didn’t despair. He quietly accepted his fate, making a list of all the things he wanted to do before he died.
I flipped to the notes section of my iPhone and titled a fresh page “Death List”.
1. Sleep In.
2. Eat Cupcakes (Why count calories when you’re a goner?)
3. Do Yoga. (If I’m gonna die, I might as well be Zen about it.)
4. Tell my friends and family I love them
And so on.
I quickly took stock of my list. “Quit job spectacularly” seemed a bit dramatic. And finding a life-size penguin suit might prove difficult on short notice. The rest, however, I felt fairly confident I could accomplish.
I spent the rest of my day carrying out the items on my list- eating copious baked goods, clearing out my PVR, not wearing pants. Before I went to bed, I called my mom and told her I loved her. “What’s wrong with you?” she asked “Is this about that knife you swallowed at lunch time?”
Since the Larry King version was unavailable on iTunes, I instead chose to lull myself to sleep with The Word of Promise, a star-studded (and extremely misguided) audio version of the bible featuring Jim Caviezel as Jesus, Gary Sinise as David and Jason Alexander as Joseph.
Confident (and also, strangely comforted) that the last words I would ever hear would be The Loaves and the Fishes as told by George Costanza and Lieutenant Dan, I fell into a deep and final sleep.
I awoke the next morning, heart still beating; drool still warm. Despite all signs to the contrary, it seemed I would live to freak out another day. Like Homer, I promised myself that I would reform: cherish my loved ones, eat healthier, practice the golden rule. But only a few days later, here I sit, eating a cupcake, just as self-absorbed and bitchy as ever. Perhaps bitchier.
That’s not to say I’ve learned nothing from this experience. Although our motives may differ, I’ve joined David Suzuki’s tireless crusade against plastic cutlery. More importantly, I’ve ordered an eerily lifelike penguin suit from Amazon, so that the next time I unwittingly ingest a toxic substance (and sadly, there will be a next time) – I’ll be ready.
Question of the Day: What would you do if you only had 22 hours to live?