I Was Wearing Dirty Underwear When A Google Alert Told Me I Was Dead
“Eternal nothingness is fine if you happen to be dressed for it.” – Woody Allen
I certainly wasn’t dressed for it when I woke up last Saturday morning to a Google alert, saying that I was found dead. “Maybe a little hungover,” I thought. “But dead?” The timing couldn’t have been worse. Because when I learned of my unsuspected demise, I was wearing only a pair of worn-out boxer briefs that may have contained a skid mark. To be perfectly frank, it wasn’t the kind of wild streak that one might involuntarily produce while trying to prevent his car from crashing headfirst into a semi-truck at 60mph. It was more like the one that rips out unexpectedly after a 30-pack of beer, a pizza chaser, and far too much confidence that those churning guts are only a fart. But no one ever questions how one comes to crap his pants. They only acknowledge that he did, and make it their lifelong mission to never let the poor bastard live it down.
My mom, who was not at all Jewish, although she did have some Judaic tendencies, always warned me to be sure I had on a clean pair of drawers before leaving the house. She’d tell me: “You don’t want the doctors thinking you’re a filthy slob if you’re in an accident, now, do you?” I never really gave a damn what the hospital staff would think of me or my shit-stained looms. But now that Google was saying that I had bit the big one, I felt a bit self-conscious about being carted off to the great beyond in a pair of britches that should have become a shop rag years ago.
But whew! There wasn’t anybody around to make fun of me or my indiscreet bowels. No sir, I was alone in this death thing, which I thought was a bit strange considering that my catholic upbringing taught me that I would be surrounded by all of those friends, family and pets that had checked out before me when the grim reaper came to snatch me up. I had always secretly hoped that I’d get to choose which of those crazy bastards I’d have to mingle with in the hereafter. I didn’t care how powerful this God character was supposed to be, he was no match for Uncle Stan’s cat-shit breath or the agony of how Aunt Sue was always trying to set me up with one of my fish-eyed cousins. There are just some things that not even the messiah can redeem.
Still, from where I was sitting, there were no signs of an afterlife or anything suggesting that I was about to endure a cringe-worthy family reunion that may or may not lead to incest. I was still in the same bed in the same crappy apartment, and it was filled with the same bizarre odor that I had been hunting down for months with a can of Lysol. I shuddered to think that I had blown my chances at getting into the pearly gates because maybe the administrators noticed that I wasn’t wearing clean underpants. I couldn’t remember seeing a dress code in the Bible, but it wasn’t like I ever paid that much attention. I feared that the heavenly higher-ups had not stamped my hand and given me access to the VIP lounge. Instead, it was more likely that they had some purgatory probationer cart me back off to my bedroom to spend the rest of eternity. Leave it to me to get processed by some uppity-angel having a bad day at the office. It probably went something like: “You know what? If that boy can’t handle something as simple as changing his damn panties before climbing into bed, he’s never going to make it up here.” And then, Bam! I was cast out.
I stopped to consider that this was how ghosts were made. That they were comprised of all the people in the history of existence who dropped dead before they got a chance to change their shorts.
I’m not going to lie, I panicked for a minute. I even went as far as to scour my immediate vicinity for a holy note or something to provide me with divine guidance on how to escape my current address and move on to my 72 virgins or whatever death benefit the Gods were offering at the time. My apartment was fine for the moment, but it wasn’t where I wanted to hang my hat in eternal nothingness. And while haunting the next residents would be entertaining, I wanted to change into clean clothes before they moved in. The heat in the back bedroom isn’t always the greatest, and I didn’t wish to spook on forevermore freezing my goddamned balls off.
I was standing smack dab in the middle of an unprecedented conundrum. I had no choice but to think back to my days of Sunday school in hopes of remembering something, anything that would reveal my next move. I needed a resurrection and fast. That’s when I realized that maybe I wasn’t at home at all, and perhaps I was one of those jackasses sentenced to purgatory. “That’s just fucking great,” I thought. I would now have to linger in between heaven and hell until whatever arrogant animal running this shit show of a universe thinks I’m ready for a spot in the upper level.
All things considered, it could have been a long wait.
During this panic attack, a voice inside my head told me that maybe I should further investigate this Google alert before losing my shit. “It couldn’t hurt,” I thought. “As far as I can tell, I’ve got time.” So, I clicked the link to an article entitled “Mike Adams Found Dead,” and I was pleasantly surprised to see that the now-defunct soul at the other end of the Internet was not me.
It turns out the deceased Mike Adams was actually a criminology professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. It wasn’t the first that I’d heard of him. While we never actually met in person, we had a few things in common that would undoubtedly cause each other substantial grief over the years. Not only do we share the same name, but we both also wrote political pieces that had a tendency to piss people off on occasion. I had been mistaken for him many times throughout the past decade. It seemed like every time he published a new column, some of which were considered racially insensitive and sexist, there was always going to be at least one wild-eyed fucker screaming at me from behind a computer someplace asking me to drop dead.
Some of Adams’ recent Tweets about how going out for pizza and beer with his buddies during a pandemic “almost made him feel like a free man who was not living in the slave state of North Carolina” really got the controversy-a-brewing. From what I could tell, the entire UNCW student body either wanted him shit-canned or tarred and feathered.
Some probably wanted both.
Initially, UNCW administrators invoked the First Amendment as the reason they were letting Adams keep his job. While they didn’t agree with his words or the sentiment behind them, they said the post was his prerogative. But the cancel culture wasn’t going to stop until they had his head on a stick. It was later announced that he would retire at the beginning of August after nearly 30 years of teaching.
Only he didn’t make it that far.
At 55-years-old, Mike Adams obviously had more substantial problems than a mysterious bedroom odor and dirty underwear. He died last weekend from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. I guess his dedicated haters finally got their wish.
While it cannot be argued that Adams’ political commentary was not palatable for that part of the population dedicated to cultivating social change amid a tense and intolerant nation, it is unnerving that the idiocy we (all of us) post on social media from time to time can be cause for driving one over the edge. I say this not as a sympathizer for those with backassword beliefs, but as a fellow Mike Adams. Who knows, it could have been me. It’s a strange world, after all, full of dirty words, despicable people, filthy underwear, towers of bad decision, ignorance and uncertainty.
And then one day you wake up dead.