“There are many things worth living for, a few things worth dying for, and nothing worth killing for.”
I love Tom Robbins. His books made me laugh out loud, especially Still Life With Woodpecker. Sadly, I couldn’t tell you what it was about. I think that might be because I didn’t have anybody to talk to about it when I read it. That’s true about most of the books on the shelves of my inner library. If a book moved me deeply, or caused me to think deeply or perceive something differently, it got put on the shelf. They’re all still there, and I can still see the titles on their spines, but I can’t remember exactly what’s inside most of them.
I was glad to discover today while searching for a quote that Tom Robbins has an I’d Rather Die list, too. I was sad to discover that he was born in Blowing Rock, North Carolina, and that I didn’t know that when I was there, staying at the summer home of one set of former in-laws for several weeks or months in 1981. I remember reading War and Peace during that time as an escape from that set of former in-laws. Obviously, I had no-one to talk to about it, so I don’t remember what happens in it. I just know it didn’t make the cut for the shelves of my inner library. Only one book by Tolstoy did-Anna Karenina, although everything ever written by Dostoevsky is in there. Maybe that’s because Dostoevsky understood crime and punishment so well that it’s the title of one of his books. If it weren’t already taken, that could be the title of my auto-biography. I’m a master at self-punishment.
Most of the things I punish myself for happened more than half a century ago, some a quarter of a century ago, and only one or two less than a decade ago. Since all of our cells get replaced every seven years, I’m literally not even the same person I was when my inner judge handed down my life sentence. But it’s kind of like when an anorexic person who weighs 69 pounds looks in the mirror and still sees their formerly fat self that weighed 169 pounds. Those inner judge positions are lifetime appointments, like Supreme Court justices. It would be nice if I had nine of them, like the Supreme Court does. At least one of them would probably argue for leniency or time off for good behavior, but no, I’m stuck with only one and it’s the hanging judge. I already had three strikes by the time I was eleven. That’s when I started my I’d Rather Die list.
The first item on the list was “Just wait until your father gets home.” I probably don’t have to tell you that I didn’t actually write those words down in a notebook under the heading of “I’d Rather Die”. What I actually did was take every pill in the medicine chest in the bathroom so I wouldn’t be alive by then. They weren’t very fast-acting though, and I was still alive when he got home. I vomited some of them up mid-beating, and he saw them. On the way to the hospital to have my stomach pumped to avoid being blamed for my death, I was ordered to say that I’d mistaken the pills for candy. You might think that attempting suicide is extreme, but I’d already tried running away. I made it from Sacramento to Los Angeles, but the girl I talked into going
with me got scared because there were black people there and she’d never seen any before. She called her parents, and they called mine. My father drove to Los Angeles, re-captured me, and then killed the man whose apartment I was in. I didn’t find that out until a few years later, but the guilt from that death was even worse than the guilt when he killed my guinea pig because I didn’t clean my room. People say the the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. I wish they didn’t, because that just makes it harder for people who are trying to fall far, far away instead of just jumping from a tall building.