A couple of weeks ago, I learned that Nipsey Russell died. This tragic bit of news hit me hard. I loved Nipsey Russell! He was humorous and clever and self-deprecating, a mainstay on the game show circuit in the 1970s with his funny little (and often risqué) poems. Plus, he was a great comedian and a fine actor. So when I heard of his death I was filled with remorse, and posted a fitting little tribute on my Facebook wall.
The only problem was, Nipsey Russell had actually passed away in 2005.
Ever since, I’ve been receiving smart-alec wall posts from my friends. They’ve been quick to let me know that Phyllis Diller died (“I wouldn’t want you waking up horrified in five years”) and that George Jefferson had moved on up to that deluxe apartment in the sky (“Instead of you finding out in 7 years, Sherman Helmsley has just died”). Tara’s mom summed it up perfectly when she wrote, “You are never going to live Nipsey down, Mark.”
OK, fine. I may not have realized that Nipsey Russell was dead, but that works both ways. I had no idea that Phyllis Diller was still alive. Wasn’t she, like, 127 years old or something?!
The strangest celebrity death this year was Andy Griffith’s. The guy had been buried for three or four hours before I even learned that he had died. His family had some bizarre wish to bury him six feet under pretty much the instant he kicked the bucket. Me? I’m not so picky about that. In fact, when my time is up, if my family and friends want to throw a pair of sunglasses on me and waltz me around Weekend At Bernies-style, they can go for it. The idea of being used as a prop does not offend me. And if it helps somebody to score with a chick, all the better!
I sometimes think about the manner in which I will die. For the record, I don’t ever want to shuffle off this mortal coil, but I suppose it’s as inevitable as…hmm…well, taxes comes to mind. I can’t think of anything else at the moment, but suffice it to say it’s going to happen someday. When it does, could I at least die in spectacularly cool fashion? Let me slip and fall into an erupting volcano or take a bullet for the President or something (but only if he’s a Democrat, otherwise I’ll let the Secret Service handle that), instead of choking on a fish bone in a crowded restaurant. How lame would that be? The thought of just slumping over in my chair terrifies me. Where’s the glory in that?! You know how I want to go when my time’s up? I want to spontaneously combust. How effin’ awesome would that be? It’s unusual and memorable. I’d surely make the national news, going out in style like that. And if I’m going to spontaneously combust, can it happen in a crowded elevator? One minute I’m pressing the button for the 14th floor, the next I’m erupting in flames. For no reason at all. I’m telling you, it doesn’t get any more awesome than that! I’d like to have a captive audience so a cool death like that wouldn’t go unnoticed (ergo, wasted). Sure, my fellow elevator riders might freak out a little while it was happening, but for the rest of their lives they would be the hit of every dinner party or social gathering. People would clamor to hear all about the guy who burned to death in front of them. I think my last words to those horrified onlookers would be, “You’re welcome.”
But in happier news, today is a very special day – the anniversary of a momentous occasion in my life. One year ago, Tara came down for a “visit.” And, from an emotional standpoint at least, never left. That was when It all began.
I remember what a nervous wreck I was that day. There’d been a hastily cobbled together “we can’t let anything happen” email offering up the flimsiest of excuses (which I regretted pretty much the instant I hit send) right before she was originally scheduled to come up, but in that delay between her surgery and arrival things between us had changed…and changed again. There was a constant evolution of feelings and emotions, and they all came to a head the instant she knocked on my door.
What followed, of course, was the most genuinely intimate and passionate fourteen hours of my life. One year ago tonight. I can’t stop thinking about that. It always makes me smile.
We went out to dinner at a little hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant down the street I’d always wanted to try. The food was great and the conversation, greater. So tonight, in celebration of The Beginning, we’ll return there for dinner. We did go back once, after she moved in with me, but tonight it’s going to feel extra special.
I can practically taste that margarita already!
- Photos: Phyllis Diller Dead at 95 (abcnews.go.com)