You may have heard the news. There’s only one living survivor left from the Titanic. (The Titanic just called to say it was definitely NOT its fault… honest…)
Now, listen, I’m in a bit of a slump. I’m in a bad mood, foul spirits, so you’ll forgive me if I’m a bit cruel… cause that’s easy, after all. But I can’t help but wonder what that must be like. To be the only living survivor.
Were the survivor a guy, it might be fun to say things like, “Unsinkable? She was fucking every guy on the ship!” or totally random things like, “By the end, they all became cannibal zombies and ate the brains of the crew! That’s why it went down, you know? Because of those god-damned Methodists! What? Who are you calling a liar? Were you there? Did you see it? NO!”
See, that’s the thing that must be so satisfying, to be the only one who really knows.
But then, you find out that the last remaining survivor of the Titanic was only two months old at the time. What good is that? What do you say then? “I don’t know about the crash but I sucked some serious tit, let me tell you.”
Actually, this has little to do with some two month old – but, one more thing, how sad is it that this woman is only known for being in an accident at two months? Seriously, how sad that the only thing they can say is, “She was on a boat that sank – er, and she was a wonderful person as well, I’m sure…”
Where was I? Oh, right. This isn’t about that.
The thing is, I’ve been sitting here thinking about that whole survivor gig. Is it really all it’s cracked up to be? In all honesty, my first thought goes to the ex-wife and the hell I went through trying to keep myself from being put in a mental ward or committing suicide and, seriously, I don’t need the t-shirt. I think about Sean, who lost his wife over a year ago. I think about Vicky, who lost her grandparents. We are all survivors, in a way.
The thing is, it’s no great thrill. It’s not as though you don’t want to survive – hey, surviving is part of what we’re here for! – but you kind of wish the title didn’t need to be applied to you. After all, isn’t “survivor” the ultimate back-handed compliment? “Hey! You lost your wife! Your grandparents died! Don’t you feel great?”
“Survivor” is a brand on par with nothing else I can think of. There are cancer survivors who probably just wish they’d never had cancer. There are car crash survivors who, I’m sure, would rather never do that again. I don’t know if the last survivor of the Titanic thinks too much about it – except when people ask what it was like. “I was only two months old! Give me a fucking break!” – but being a survivor is no treat.
It’s like eating a particularly bad meal cooked by someone you love. You don’t want to eat it. In fact, you hate it. Maybe you force a smile and make yummy sounds, telling all the while what a delight it is. Maybe you just grit your teeth and rub your throat to make the food go down. When you’re finished, that’s it. You’ve survived.
And you hope you’ve learned enough not to accept that invitation again.