February 22, 2009

At dinner the other night with my friend Sophie I was complaining about feeling stressed.

"Maybe you should fake your own death," she said.

Really? When did this become the solution for stress? Most people suggest yoga.

At first it seemed like an extreme response. Not to mention a lot of work. But the more I thought about it, the more appealing it became.

Maybe it wouldn't be as much work as I think. I would tell one person, like Sophie, I was dead and let her spread the word. It wouldn't even take that long. Just a handful of phone calls, and a mass email with the subject line: Quiet.

It would be interesting to go to my own funeral and hide in the back. What would be said at the eulogy? Probably something along the lines of: "She did everything wrong."

But then what if I went, and no one turned up? That would be depressing. If I'm going to fake my own death and start over again, I'd need to start on an up note. No funeral.

While Sophie was busy informing everyone of my demise, I would be packing. I'm not sure what I would bring.

How does one pack for faking a death? I know I wouldn't need my passport. And where would I go? It couldn't be anywhere too hot because I don't sit in the sun. It couldn't be anywhere too cold because I have circulation problems and my fingers turn blue. It couldn't be anywhere too remote because I would need to be near a doctor and a decent sushi restaurant. But I couldn't be anywhere too populated in case someone spotted me.

My ideal situation would be to stay in my apartment and order in for the rest of my life. Only the deli man who delivers would know I was alive.

And Sophie. And Liza "That's a lot of responsibility." Liza said. "What if people started asking questions?" But then as soon as she said that she realised the chances of that actually happening were pretty slim. Not that many people would notice. I suppose putting a close friend in that situation would be unfair. The guilt could be a burden. Or, even worse, they could slip up. Sophie didn't seem that concerned though.

"I'd take one of those pills that erases bad memories so I wouldn't be able to recall anything."

Her willingness to participate was touching. Generally speaking, people who fake their own death do it to get out of things. Relationships, financial troubles, and so on.

Recently it's become popular among hedge fund managers and bankers. That wouldn't be my motivation. I'd just like a break. The problem with faking your death is, it's permanent. It's not like a year later, you can change your mind and re-emerge. Also, faking my own death does not mean I leave the planet.

So all of the things that annoy me now, would probably still annoy me. I would still have to listen to an automated voice say "your call is a priority" while waiting to speak to a customer service representative. I would still have to remember all the different passwords for bank accounts and email accounts and air miles and PIN codes. I'd still have to fill out forms and pay bills and deal with the administrative paperwork that reminds me why I wanted to fake my death in the first place..

On the other hand, starting over would give me a chance to correct all my past mistakes. I would make sure I had one password for everything. I would be able to create a persona based on who I'd like to be - not who I am. But then if that happened, and I really became that person, I'd want to share the new me with the people who are in my life now only I wouldn't be able to.

I'd have changed but no one would know. I wouldn't be able to prove it because I'd be dead.

Finally I'd have become the person everyone wants to be around - but I'd have no one to be around.