I don’t know about you, but I haven’t planned on dying. Like going to India or watching all three Lord of the Rings films, it’s something I’m curious about but have no intention of actually ever doing.
I know there’s some boring old aphorism about death and taxes being unavoidable, but frankly I’ve had a look at my payslip and I figure that since I’m doing so much of one then I might get a pass on the other.
Whenever anyone asks if I’d prefer to be buried or cremated I always choose “the Disney option.” Stick me in an icebox and wake me up when science finds a way of reanimating my corpse. This, according to urban legend, is what Walt Disney requested before he died in 1966. Apparently he’s in cold storage under the Pirates of the Caribbean ride if anyone fancies finding out for certain. (I do sometimes wonder what old Walt would make of the world if we thawed him out now. He’d probably watch an episode of South Park and shoot himself.) Unfortunately, I don’t have the money to pay for a cryogenic chamber, and our freezer door doesn’t always close properly, so it’s probably not a good idea. I’d hate for my wife to come home and find me in a puddle on the floor next to the frozen peas.
I’ve been thinking about death a lot recently. One of the things you’re supposed to do when you find out you’re having a baby, aside from freak out and demand that your wife buy another test and this time do it properly, is take out life insurance. We’re a single income household now, so it needs doing I suppose. It’s just unfortunate that it seems to have brought my own mortality into slightly sharper focus as well. Nothing makes you feel older more suddenly than expecting a child. One day you’re a hip, young thing and the next day you’re thinking about life insurance, fretting about knife crime and using embarrassing expressions like ‘hip, young thing.’ I know the photo that accompanies these columns makes me look about 15, but between you, me and my psychotherapist, those years are buried pretty deep by now.
"Nothing makes you feel older more suddenly than expecting a child. One day you’re a hip, young thing and the next day you’re thinking about life insurance, fretting about knife crime and using embarrassing expressions like ‘hip, young thing.’"
So, is this when the midlife crisis starts? Am I suddenly going to start taking an interest in motorbikes? Or dubstep? Or, god forbid, my health? How terribly disappointing. I’ve always considered my health with what I like to regard as debonair indifference. Exercise was for old people, boring people, and most importantly, other people. People who worry about blood pressure and cholesterol and whatever The Daily Mail says is causing cancer this week. Nothing thrilled me more than casually informing these treadmill enthusiasts that I’ve never been to the gym in my life – how devil may care! – as if sitting on the couch watching The Sopranos was some kind of death-defying extreme sport.
And now? Well, and now I’m about expose myself as the fraud and the charlatan that I am. About six months ago I secretly bought a pair of running shoes. And then, after admiring them for a few months, I secretly started jogging; like a wheezy undercover agent in ill-fitting shorts. To be fair the first few times could hardly be described as jogging, more like intermittent staggering, but nonetheless I am wearing the expression of a chastened man. A man who has seen his future and noticed it’s a lot closer than it used to be.
Recently I even uttered the words “skinny” and “latte” without intending them as a slur of some kind. I don’t know why. Is a skinny latte healthy? It sounds like it should be. The guy behind the café counter smiled politely but there was a look of pity in his eyes. I’ve also discovered that ale contains slightly less calories than lager, which practically makes it a wheatgrass smoothie in my eyes. It’s all very undignified of course, counting calories at the bar, but since I have no intention of joining Walt in his big icebox anytime soon I’ll have to get used to it.
Although just to hedge my bets I have finally made an appointment with the bank to discuss my insurance options. I’m presuming Disney isn’t one of them.
Read all of Stuart's columns on being a dad-to-be here, and share your thoughts on this fortnight's column in the comments section below.
Picture credit: Getty Images