Beautiful Ways to Die

            As some of you know, I am afraid of the moving pictures.  Well, they move too fast for one thing, and they all FLASH FLASH FLASH, and I’m afraid I’ll have a seizure, and they have destroyed our attention span, and the next thing you know there’s a FLASH and you’re seeing something you never meant to see and you can’t just erase it; it’s there permanently and you’re doomed to a life of regret.  I can’t honestly remember the last time I entered a movie theater.  Also there are other people there, and I don’t want any part of that.

            Additionally, I don’t watch television because by-and-large it is venal and not to be endured.  If I even touch the on/off button on my television it’s so my toddler can watch The Aristocats, which is fine because it involves lovely cats in Paris in 1910.  A very fine time in Paris, if you ask me.  Plus there are jazz-playing strays living in a house that looks oh-so-suspiciously like Storyville in New Orleans, a favorite lost artifact of mine.

            At this point you must be thinking, “How tragical is this woman, with nothing but books about Whitehead, and little nubs of carpenters’ pencils.”  True enough, until my friend who-shall-remain-nameless (Scott), convinced me to watch The Sopranos. 


WHAT?!?  The Quaker girl?  Oh-ho, indeed.  In fact, between the beginning of January and the end of February (or March – I have no sense of time) I watched all 86 hours, and when I reached the finale I sobbed for three days.  My friend Christopher took me by the hand and said, “Honey?  Millions of people saw that finale.  Some thought it was genius, some were disappointed.  But NO ONE sobbed for three days.  I think we need a little bit of professional help here.”  Which only goes to show he has no heart.

            And perhaps things were slightly askew in my psyche, because in an e-mail exchange between three friends I was asked to name off the top of my head (seriously!  think fast!) how I would choose to die if I only had twenty-four hours.  What would I do, spend my last day hysterical over my motherless children?  Try to see the Seven or Ten or Eight Wonders of the World?  God, no.  I answered as honestly as humanly possible.  I said, “I would want to spend 24 hours with Tony Soprano and then I would want him to shoot me in the heart.”  In cyber-space there was much of being appalled.  In fact, all over the physical word, appalled-ness did preside.  But NOT WITH MY FRIEND SUZANNE FINNAMORE COOPER.  She said, “The only way to get your heart blown to smithereens is to choose the psychopath.”

            I shall keep this short, because I have dissertations on the cultural phenomenon which was Tony Soprano, but I would just like to end with this photograph.  If I were 13, 16, 21, 16, 32, 38, or even 40, I would have this tattooed on my regions.  After spending hours studying the sublime image, please feel free to talk amongst yourselves about your last twenty-four hours.  And remember:  I am the last person to judge. 

Published in: on July 31, 2008 at 11:45 pm  Comments (22)  


  1. If you still have that framed certificate from Leonardo “The Lion” Gravitano Salvatore, then I think Tony Soprano just *has to* do whatever you ask.

  2. Oh that John M. He knows me all too well. Seriously, don’t get me started on Tony Soprano. I’ll give you just this one hint. I was having a conversation with one of my most erudite friends, James, and we were talking about why T.S. has this effect on me. I said, “Well, my dad was a hillbilly and an unbearably sexy beast to all women, and he was most often compared to Johnny Cash.” (Beth will attest to this.) But if you had put Bob Jarvis, who already wore at least two concealed weapons at all times, in New Jersey, well — you wake up in the morning and you’ve got yourself a gun.

  3. WHERE IN THE WORLD IS GEORGE STUTEVILLE? Look for the striped shirt in the crowd. AND WHERE IS BRENT BILL? I have been deserted. I fear it’s because my avatar says “Where Are My Pants?”

  4. Polly? HELLLOOOO!

  5. Hey, stupid arse Melinda, don’t even pretend you have a job because I know you too well. You get to hang out with old people all day and solve their problems, like when the old woman comes in and says, “I need some stamps.” And you say, “Okay, Ethel, here’s your stamps.” Five minutes later she comes in and says, “I need some stamps.” So you give her more stamps. Also I love old people.

  6. May I just comment one last time? (WebMASTER?) I do not see one example of how you would choose to die given 24-hours advance notice. Discuss.

  7. Don’t you worry none, Haven, about Tone and Carmella and crew. I got ’em set-up real nice in a doublewide just outside of Otwell, Ind. I had a friend who owed me a favor and lent me his place so the Soprano people could relax until the shit blew over in Jersey.

    Guess this means I am spilling the beans about the mystery guy at the last episode. Tone tells me that all the rat bastard did was drop off a note written on a paper napkin that said: “No more playing Journey on the juke box, you Wop motherfucker!” (Editor’s Note: I added the comma that the original writer forgot.)

    Anyways, Tone and Carmella seem pretty happy down here drinking beer, going to Wal-Mart, skinnydipping at the stripper pit and enjoying pasta served over deep-fried pork tenderloins at Amish Acres Restaurant on Friday nights.

    Syl and Pauli are having a tough time adjusting though. Syl did buy into a joint near Petersburg called Tryst and Shout. It’s out on Highway 57 over by the Elks Lodge and it’s pretty popular though some of the local farmers have trouble when their daughters get on stage.

    Pauli has a little thing going with a scrap yard and some guys who specialize in unauthorized removal of various farmyard supplies and implements. Hear he also has a demolition derby car entered into the Gibson County Fair.

    They’re all packing sawed-offs now and saying Y’all instead of Youse. Pretty funny. Just don’t sound right coming out of their mouths, though. Maybe I will bring em up for a sit-down with you when you get up to Indianapolis on your book tour.

  8. George,
    That was brilliant !!!

  9. My choice would be a quick draw gun fight I would win but die later. as the song hand of fate by the Rolling Stones goes
    “He shot me once but I shot him twice”

    Second option to pass peacefully with a heart attack while reading the book of Mark. To ensure salvation 😉

  10. My choice: To spend the last twenty-four hours, if it would EVEN be enough, finishing The Sopranos. I’m, at this time, in the middle of Season Three, and I very much understand these feelings of devotion.

    As a Quaker, you may be interested to know that James Gandolfini considers himself a pacifist. This I read at Wikipedia and everyone knows EVERYTHING at Wikipedia is 100% true.

  11. Thank you — you have all pleased me mightily. I have a SUPER SERIOUS blog planned about the moral authority/moral black hole which is THE SOPRANOS; it even includes quotations from Emerson. I will get to that as soon as I finish my strawberry shortcake. (Not a code.) In the meantime, where did you all come from? I like you better than other people.

  12. Two things Michael T: He shot me once but I shot him twice is so enviable an answer I actually snorted. And the book of Mark is open on my Bible stand, so that if one walks into my barn/study, one would believe I am pious. Plus it’s pretty there. And in all fairness (to myself) I adore the Mark, but nonetheless it is something of an illusion, that wooden stand.

  13. Haven Helloooo! So glad you liked the shortbread and I hope the kids didn’t suffer too much. I haven’t commented because I regretfully cannot add to the witty repartee’. For it is only right here and now, for the first time in public, after years of hiding in isolated shame and silence, it is only for you that I am willing to come out of the closet, as that most inglorious of all creatures…the Sopranos Virgin. (but blog on Project Runway and I’m your gal.)

  14. p.s. I did have the interesting pleasure of being in close proximity to James Gandolfini for some period of time backstage at Madison Square Garden in NYC, where I work as a talent escort at red carpet events. He is very large IRL, had a dour disposition and seemed to take pleasure in cutting quite an intimidating figure, if that qualifies.

  15. Since I don’t have a TV, the only Sopranos episode I’ve ever seen (in a hotel once) was one in which Tony and a henchman dismembered in a bathtub some guy with whom they had apparently had a fatal difference of opinion. That was not a particularly beautiful way to die, in my opinion, and definitely not my first choice.

    I’m with Woody Allen: “I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work… I want to achieve it through not dying.”

  16. well, honestly, if the sopranos is looking for a blurb on a dvd… the fact that Haven Kimmel turned on a tv in order to watch them… that’s sold me. (i’m with polly, a soprano’s virgin.)

    if i knew i had 24 hours left to live… i would tell mr. obama and mr. bush that i have 24 hours left to live and please please please can we just go ahead and end this farce so that we can all start moving along now? pretty please??? just a little ole switcheroo is all it would take to allow me to die not depressed.

    looking forward to listening to you at quail ridge on thursday and asking you: how DID your publishers agree to this one? 😉

  17. I would gather my children and partner and we would all lay entwined in each others’ arms, cuddling and talking until the end. We would be surrounded by all physical comforts within reach and be as comfy and cozy as possible. If I was going by myself I would try to make it as least traumatic for the kids as I could, given the brief time I would have to work with. If we were all going together, Ken and I wouldn’t tell the kids what was happening. We would try to make the last 24 hours as sweet as we could, and then hopefully we would all go at the same moment. Since you asked and all.

  18. …answering the question:

    Me? I ain’t going into the dark night without a really strong flashlight, some munchies of some sort, a bottle of water, a towel, and something good to read. Maybe some sensible shoes, too, I don’t know.

    When my very cool uncle passed away in April. I was with him during his last 24 hours. We watched an old Sophia Loren movie, ate some ice chips, changed pajamas, talked to several people over the phone, injected some morphine and waited in line for the agent to show. We had some laughs about attendant angels appearing in the guise of Hooters cocktail waitresses. We also talked about the other side…I could almost see it from my side of his hospital bed. Didn’t look too bad.

  19. Venal. I’m ashamed to admit I actually had to look that one up.
    Now I can’t get it out of my head and having been saying it out loud off and on all day.
    Venal . . . Venal . . . Venal.
    I just like the sound of it.

  20. You are such a funny, funny girl Haven!

  21. I found this particularly funny. My husband happened upon one episode of Sopranos and was hooked. He works for a school district and has the month of July off, most of which was spent obsessively watching the Sopranos. At first, I teased him, and bemoaned the great time suck that watching every episode from series premeir to series finale. Then, ask I kicked around the house I found myself sitting a bit longer on the couch. Then next thing you know, I was protesting him fast-fowarding through some parts. Then next thing I was wondering why I found this overweight, balding man very attractive, hoping he would straighten out, wondering if he would survive the gun shot. I found the finale very disturbing, and wanted my good ol’American happy ending.

  22. […] I’m mostly speechless, but I will say that I understand now what author Haven Kimmel meant when she said that her choice of death, if she only had twenty-four hours to live, would be to spend twenty-four […]

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