September 3, 2006

A few weeks ago I read about Jenni Murray, who made a suicide pact with two of her friends. If she ever became terminally ill, they agreed to assist her so that she could determine when she died, and do it with dignity. My first thought when I read this was: she found two friends? I'd be lucky if I could find one. My friends are hard to pin down. Who could I count on to help me die?

The first person I turned to was Liza. She was at work. Here's what she said: "Sorry, honey. I don't have time to give this any thought at the moment." Not a good sign. If Liza's too busy to even discuss a suicide pact, what are the chances she'll have time to carry it out? Everyone in New York is so busy. But maybe I caught her at a bad moment.

I called again after work. "If I said yes," she said, "you would ask me so many freaking questions about how I was going to do it and if it would hurt and if it would smell and if it would take too long, etc, that I would end up wanting to kill myself."

I took that as a no. What kind of best friend won't agree to assist a suicide?

I moved on. So I asked Joanna because she is reliable. I knew when the time came she would show up. That was my main concern. I didn't want to be left waiting, wondering if she had forgotten. Joanna would fit me into her schedule no matter what was going on. But she, too, was reluctant.

"Only if it was really terminal," she said. What, didn't she trust me? We then got into a discussion about this. She was concerned: what if I told her it was terminal - but it was only a bad hair day? What if I thought it was terminal but then it turned out to be curable? Who would make the decision when it was time to go? So many things to think about. Never mind. It was getting too complicated. After a while she agreed, but only on the condition that I left her some of my furniture.

My furniture? What did she have her eye on? She told me she liked the art-deco dressing table. I panicked. I gave that piece away to Katie last month.

I called Katie. Would she consider giving me my dressing table back, and if not, would she consider helping me die? She said she'd consider the latter. But on one condition. Everyone has their conditions. Katie wanted to know if she could have my apartment. Fine. Whatever. But after all that, she still wasn't even sure. "Let me think about it," she said. She'd get back to me.

I was getting depressed. Nobody wanted to commit. I called my friend Tamara, in LA. But she was worried she wouldn't know what to do when the time came. What's to know? Just give me a bunch of pills. Or if there's a plug, pull it. She produces a TV show in Hollywood - surely someone out there could talk her through killing a friend.

I couldn't believe how this was going. Nobody would agree to kill me. Not one friend. Not even my doorman - he wouldn't want to get fired. What does that say? That I need some new friends. There was only one person left to ask: Kim. The problem with Kim is that she travels a lot. But at this point, I couldn't be choosy. She told me she'd agree. Finally. "You promise?" She promised. "But I just want you to know," she said, "I'd feel guilty."
That's okay. I can live with that.