A book about how people die stupid and unnecessary deaths makes me feel smart and accomplished just for having survived so far. On the other hand, every time I giggle-snorted at another ridiculously avoidable demise, I was also reminded of the incredibly poor judgement I have sometimes shown in my life, and reminded of just how random luck is, killing some fools and letting others live. I suppose there are more important things to wish for, but I do hope that the manner of my death won’t be a laugh on me.
I was interested to find out the the Darwin Awards have highly structured rules and criteria. Until I read this book, I had always thought it was just some random thing where people poked fun at deaths-by-lack-of-common-sense. But the incidents, to win an actual Darwin Award, have to be confirmed, and can’t be the acts of children or people otherwise unable to understand the potentially fatal consequences of their actions (although, fairly, making bad decisions after choosing to get blind drunk is not a disqualification).
Still, while I was greatly entertained by a lot of the award winners and honourable mentions, and while I felt quite superior reading some of the choices people made (“At least I’d never do that!”), I carried the context of those deaths with me as I read, mostly being mindful that each of those deaths was a grief for friends and family that was likely vastly exacerbated by the stupidity of the death. (“Over in the corner there? Yeah, that’s Jamie, the one whose partner died by poking a bear / racing a train / assembling a toaster in the tub”). So while it was funny, it was also sad, and I felt kind of icky for laughing at so much pain. Although strictly speaking, it was the stupid I was laughing at, but still. It would have been a nice light read if my superego had a pause button.
The Darwin Awards II: Unnatural Selection by Wendy Northcott. 2003. ISBN 0452284015.