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Question: You know that question people ask sometimes—if you could die anyway in the world, how would it be? Well, I never know what to say. I usually just say, “I want to go out in a blaze of glory.” So, what’s really the best way to go? —Sean S.
Answer: Up there with questions like “If you could have dinner with any three people, living or dead, who would they be?” and “Does this taste like it’s got a mickey in it?” the question of how you’d like to go has long been a crutch of terrible party conversation. If ever your response is met with suspicious glances or troubled stares, simply add, “Just like mom,” cool the room, and refill your drink.
So the next time someone asks you how you’d like to go, and you say…
“…in my sleep”
It’s a good way to go if… You spend a long, wonderful day with those you love, finally climb into bed, and drift away, peaceful and content.
It’s a bad way to go if… You have malaria.
“…stalked and murdered”
It’s a good way to go if… Your girlfriend just drove over somebody on the way back to East Egg.
It’s a bad way to go if… The stranger you’re talking to at the party, who asks you how you want to go, takes your answer as a subtle hint.
“…ripped apart by wild animals”
It’s a good way to go if… You approached life fearlessly, communed with nature, and swam with sharks.
It’s a bad way to go if… You were just trying to feed the rabbits.
“…while fighting for my honor”/“loved one”/“country”
It’s a good way to go if… You live in full allegiance to your beliefs, the love and respect you feel is shared—and mutual.
It’s a bad way to go if… Whoever keeps one hand on the mini-truck the longest wins it.
“…in a blaze of glory”
It’s a good way to go if… You’re up against all odds, you and Sundance exchange a single glance, and you know what you have to do.
It’s a bad way to go if… Annie Proulx rewrites your ending.
“…eaten by cannibals”
It’s a good way to go if… You came to this uncharted Pacific island as part of your mission to spread peace and harmony to the four corners of the globe.
It’s a bad way to go if… You’re a cannibal, and you happened to be hungry too.
“…surrounded by family and loved ones”
It’s a good way to go if… Somebody knows a good travel agent, everybody’s able to get off work, etc.
It’s a bad way to go if… You choke on a croissant during Mother’s Day brunch.
“…in flagrante delecto”
It’s a good way to go if… You’re found in the carpet section of Bloomingdale’s, having lived your sexual life to its fullest, every ounce of your sensuality explored and enjoyed.
It’s a bad way to go if… There’s an afterlife, and it turns out that veneral disease is the one exception to “you can’t take it with you.”
“…I just want to drop dead out of the blue”
It’s a good way to go if… You’re overconfident.
It’s a bad way to go if… You’re a hypochondriac.
“…an asteroid hits the earth and everybody dies”
It’s a good way to go if… You keep telling everyone you’re writing a novel, but need a new excuse for not getting around to it.
It’s a bad way to go if… You paid your freelancer’s insurance last month, but because of that your check for the cryogenic chamber bounced, and—wouldn’t you know it—you totally forgot to gas up the escape pod. And you know your old college pal? The one with the Knopf deal? He’s already orbiting Neptune—and dreaming of dollars.