Header image by Amanda Wood via Flickr
I have been thinking about and reading lately the voluminous works of Ogden Nash, a silly poet who was taken seriously. How he managed to become widely known by working in the disrespected field of light verse is still perplexing. Nash died in 1971. There has been no one like him since.
You hardly hear about Nash today. People have a way of vanishing. Even the most accomplished artists and statesmen can quickly become inconsequential, postmortem.
But during the many hours I’ve spent standing in the supermarket checkout line, one thing I’ve learned that you can stay relevant if you manage to perish under a cloud of suspicion. If you can’t do that, at least make your exit in some unconventional and potentially memorable way.
It turns out Nash died after eating “improperly prepared” coleslaw, although few details about the incident are available online. The official cause was said to be Crohn’s Disease, aggravated by side dish.
Here is where we might identify some fame-extending mysterious circumstances. How could Nash, a well-known hypochondriac, so casually imbibe a lethal helping of such an unhelpful multi-layered vegetable? Was he force-fed into oblivion? Or was it intentional?
In pursuit of the truth, the public demands a dogged persistence.
But all it will get right now is doggerel.
Did Ogden Nash know?
Did Ogden Nash, with his last breath,
decide to die a funny death?
His final meal – some stringy gabbage
hid the reaper ‘mongst the cabbage.
Did fate, ironic, choose to slay him
with this side of gastro-mayhem?
Or did Nash select this gaffe
to seal his doom with one last laugh?
One last punchline – Woe betide
all those who chews coleslawicide.
Describe the circumstances of your ideal, intriguing death.