February 25, 2024 | Rome, Italy

Mortality is so passé

By |2018-03-21T19:05:58+01:00May 25th, 2015|"In the Sticks"|
Death? What a concept...

am the world’s one true optimist. Somewhere on the southeast coast of Australia, my mother just died from a fit of irony. Ignore her and listen to me.

Last week I sat at home moping at the realization that I’m now too old to go dancing on a Saturday night. It also appears I’m too old to even use the word clubbing. At the same time I was also mulling over how many years I have before it’s time to bear children. It would seem that despite my endless fretting I don’t really want my still-fictitious offspring.

But who am I kidding?

I’m naming the first one Anoushka (imagine that in Italian.) This drives my mother-in-law crazy, which makes me think of using the same name for all my children — with appropriate numerical distinctions (A1, A2, etc.). An exotic “Bananas in Pyjamas,” if you will (and if you never watched the Australian television show with the B1 and B2-named talking bananas in pajamas — as you Americans call them — then you truly haven’t lived.)

As troubled as I was by my clubbing realization, I wasn’t remotely close to despair. I was mollified by the thought that I could simply go clubbing more in my next life. No, I’m not joking. At some point in my 27 years I became subconsciously convinced that I’m living in a video game that will reset itself when I die.

I don’t even believe in reincarnation. I simply have no concept of finality. Maybe it was the three years of philosophy I took in university. I can picture post-40-year-olds reading this and rolling their eyes at the delusional 20-something author.

I don’t mind. Thinking this way makes for the most wonderful regret-free life. For example, I have always been absolutely terrible at making decisions. That’s among the reasons I ended up in Italy and why I married my Italian stallion (who has recently graduated from wearing my Chanel Mademoiselle to spraying himself with Chanel No. 5 every morning. He smells like my grandmother. It’s concerning.)

Part of my outlook has to do with my “reset” mentality. I don’t care if I make the wrong decision. I can always make another one the next time around. Yes, I know there’s no next time. I just can’t seem to get my subconscious to agree.

Pressing worldly concerns also tend to interfere with my dwelling on mortality.

Here’s one: the room reeks of cat food, and (even though I’m the world’s one true optimist) that annoys me. In fact, my office used to be a cat prison. My mother-in-law has seven cats, all ranked on a precarious totem pole of favorites. The previous divine ruler, Volpe, was a red cat of an indeterminate breed that my suocera deemed too precious to let outside, fearing cat kidnappings.

When I came along and needed an office, my father-in-law installed a partition that divided Volpe’s living quarters in half (I swear the cat still resents me). Though my father-in-law thought of everything, he wasn’t able to stop the old smell from permeating my “new” office.

This means that in addition to pondering not being able to go dancing, the details of my A-named children and the keen nature of my non-mortality, I’ve also been forced to open my window and freeze in the unseasonable cold. Like all crazy people, I wonder if I’m the only one. I also wonder if I can go next door and strangle Volpe without anyone noticing. I’m a mental case multitasker.

But Volpe is safe. If I have one mantra in life it’s don’t court death, or poke the bear. Only stupid people do things that could lead them to appear posthumously on an episode of “1,000 Ways to Die.” I spent years avoiding bungee jumping, motorbikes, scuba diving and bees until one day in Paris an unprovoked bee lost its head on a windy day and attacked me. That was also the day the bee lost its life — after it left its stinger in my pinkie.

Now that I’m now too old to go dancing or use the word clubbing, but also having escaped a near-death Parisian bee attack, I may need to snap out of my self-induced asides and return to writing about hilarity of expat life and my lost-in-translation adventures — this time with garden metaphors included. Or maybe turn my attention to the Death of Innocence.

But I can’t bring myself to sink so low.

About the Author:

Australian writer Elisa Scarton wrote the column "In the Sticks" from 2014 through mid-2019.