Rehearsal For A Beautiful Death
“Was it alright Jim? Did you enjoy it when it came? Just like you said you would?” These are lines that Meg Ryan’s Pamela speaks to Val Kilmer’s Jim Morrison, near the end of Oliver Stone’s movie “The Doors,” when she wakes up from a nightmare and comes into the bathroom to find that Morrison, the famous rock singer and poet, has died while sitting in a bathtub, all alit with a holy glow. If you are like me, you were once young and naïve and thought that to be a rock singer and poet would be the coolest thing ever, and this scene more than any other cemented these ideas into my mind, that to Die would be a Really Cool Thing, as long as you did it beautifully, engulfed in holy light. I am now 34 – 34! – years old, and yet I guess if I am being honest there is still a part of me (the poet part?) that dips the mind into death-tinged waters; I think probably writing poetry is a way to face off against death, or, embrace it, or, refute it? I’m not sure, but I do know this – I love the idea of having some beautiful woman finding me in a bathtub, with the morning light pouring in from the window, and also, I would have excellent Val-Kilmer-y cheekbones, and luxurious hair. All this I want, so much so that I even asked my friend Tiffany if she wouldn’t mind coming over and doing a sort of dress rehearsal of this very scene, so that I could at least know what it felt like to be found in such a beautiful way. Tiffany agreed, provided I helped her move some boxes from storage next weekend. So Tiff came over – I’d left the door unlocked – and she came into the bathroom, and there I was, sitting in a tub full of water, my head tilted back, wearing swim trunks (I didn’t want Tiff to have to experience the sight of my naked body; we’re just friends, after all). There wasn’t any holy light, because my bathroom is in the middle of the apartment, and doesn’t have a window, but, of the 3 light bulbs above the mirror, 2 are burned out, so, it’s kind of dark in there anyways. Anyways. Tiff peeked in, and I tried to stay very still, in the water, to pretend like I had once been a seer but now had simply sawn, and then gone on. Then Tiff said her lines: “Was it alright, Josh? Did you enjoy it when it came? Just like you said would?” Silently, I appreciated the fact that Tiff had delivered her lines with an attempted earnestness, sans irony; I also liked that I was actually conscious to hear her say them. So then there was just this silence, as Tiff sat on the toilet seat, and stared at me in the bathtub. Suddenly, I let out a huge fart, which rippled the water in the tub and reverberated across the linoleum tiles. Tiff started to giggle, then covered her mouth in an effort to respect our role-playing, but the giggles kept coming, and soon she was laughing her ass off, tears running down her face, and I too had joined in – why had I eaten a can of beans for dinner the night before?! What did I expect?! – and the both of us were cracking up, cackling like mad, weeping and laughing and howling with joy, and I for one felt very happy to be alive. Still do.
Josh Lefkowitz has poems and essays all across the internet, including The Huffington Post, The Rumpus, The Hairpin, and many other places. He won the Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Prize and received an Avery Hopwood Award for Poetry at the University of Michigan. Additionally, he has recorded work for NPR's All Things Considered and BBC's Americana.