Thursday, May 15, 2014



Claude has a plan.  It is likely the first actual plan he’s had in his whole life, despite a lifetime of being told he must prepare for the future.  Claude is very pleased to have a plan which, as promised, has brought a degree of ease and security to his life.  Like a millionaire with top-knotch Blue Cross and a second home in Arizona, he basks in the knowledge that his future is assured.

Claude’s plan is to live entirely quietly, in a foreign and unheralded place, until the sum of money he has saved for that purpose is exhausted.  He will then end his life, having composed a beautiful thank you note on the unlined blue Japanese stationery he has selected, without neglecting to leave an enormous tip for the cleaning lady, who quite understandably might like to receive several sessions of counseling.

He has saved the money and stockpiled the pills.  He has not neglected the unpleasant details: a small tarp, a plastic bag, electrical tape.  He is free now to do what almost no one ever does: to live as he chooses.  An early departure is by no means too high a price to pay for this liberty.  Any number of reasonable people might be perfectly willing to exchange twenty years of drudgery for six months of freedom, if ever they were granted the option.

It must be said that Claude is not in any way opposed to life.  He is not, god forbid, A Negative Person, the kind of detestable misery-monger who deflates parties and acts as if aging, loss and climate change were real.  No, Claude uses skin cream, drinks eight glasses of water, votes, and makes any number of optimistic acts that have been proven repeatedly to be of zero utility.

Claude’s earnest -- if measured -- enthusiasm is expressed in the fact that he has chosen places in which he can live for ten to twenty dollars a day.  Claude savors the vegetable soup with yellow noodles that costs just one dollar.  If he detested life he’d head to Stockholm, blow through his money, and be dead in three days.

As it is, Claude sees fit to extend the exercise.  Not too short and, may it please the Lord, not too long.

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