Could you kill someone?
I started wondering about it when I read this paragraph in Franzen’s How to be alone. It’s a book of essays – some quite dated now – that I didn’t enjoy as much as I wanted to. Having said that, the essay on the Chicago post office in the 1990s is fascinating. Or maybe that’s just because I’m a dork.
Anyway, this paragraph:
Bikerts confesses to an envy for the Devil: “I wonder, as I did in high school when confronted with the smooth and athletic ones, the team captains and class presidents, whether I would not [this is where the page breaks, so you can see how I thought it was going to be about killing the popular kids, Heathers-style. Or perhaps you can't see that and it says more about me than anything else] deep down, trade in all this doubting and wondering and just be him.”
You guys all ask yourselves questions you’ll never really answer, right? Like, could I eat poo (absolutely not), could I eat placenta (maybe, it if had a nice sauce, although I don’t know if I’d eat someone else’s), could I be a surrogate mother for a friend who couldn’t have kids (perhaps, but who knows if I’m able to have kids, and besides, this incubator is gettin’ a little old), could I put my hand on the hotplate when it’s glowing red (probably, but it would be really dumb because it would hurt for a really long time). See, questions. Irrelevant questions.
In high school I used to babysit two awesome kids. The oldest was in year six and I let her stay up and watch Rage with me if she raced to her room and pretended to be asleep when her parents go home. She used to ask me all sorts of interesting questions but the first was whether, if I went back in time, I would kill Hitler. I said of course. She replied with a doozy: what if killing him meant there was a 50/50 chance that someone worse would take his place? Would you take that risk? You can see why I liked this kid.
I think I’ve mentioned before that I haven’t driven a car in 16 years – not from any grand decision but because when I moved to Sydney after school, I didn’t have access to a car. And since those 16 years have been filled with various combinations of full-time study, part-time work, full-time work, part-time study and McJobs, owning a car has never been something I’ve considered. Shit, I own a fridge, how much more grown-up do I need to be?
But I used to drive. We lived out of town and the road went around the lake. There was this one particular corner, where you were getting up speed coming down the hill, that was just a couple of metres from the lake. And every time I approached it, I wondered if I could floor it and go flying into the water. Not in a “I want to kill myself” kind of way, but in a “I wonder what would happen if I did that” kind of way.
So when I read this post by The Bloggess, I thought “phew, it’s not just me”: I can’t tell if I won this argument or lost it. I’d feel better if I at least had nachos:
me: I would kill myself in about 8 seconds in that car. What about all the times you think about driving off the edge of a cliff? Does it compensate for that?
Victor: Who the hell thinks about driving off a cliff?
me: Um…me. And everyone.
Yeah, Victor. Everyone.
Over to you – and I’ll leave this post up over the weekend so you’ve got time to think about it – what stupid questions do you ask yourself?