Death By Misadventure

Noun. A death due to unintentional accident without any violation of law or criminal negligence. Thus, there is no crime.

I had never heard this description of a fatality until Amy Winehouse died. I think it’s the best way to go. It just sounds so playful. Better than “massive coronary” or “bear attack”. But playful, it’s not, unless you consider massive alcohol overindulgence playful, which I guess some people do.

At least on paper, it’s a great way to go. A misadventure. I’ve had plenty of those, never resulting in death, obviously, but I will say there were consequences. One time I was speeding, in a harbor, in a boat. I just wanted to make some really big waves, but even in the water there are speed limits. I got pulled over by the Harbor Patrol and got a ticket. I got another one, right around the same time, for standing in the street. I was 17, it was in Palm Springs, and I was talking to a guy in a jeep who I would end up falling in love with. My first love, actually. It was worth it.

There’s been other times, crazy times long ago in Tijuana and not so long ago in Tijuana. There are regrettable tattoos, poems, and other remnants of people I’ve known who may or may not remember me. But it doesn’t matter. We had a summer house by the ocean. I never wore shoes, even at night. I had a thing for the blond surfer stoner type, the kind of guy my mother would call a “bad influence”. The saltwater in the air was intoxicating, still is. There’s nothing like feeling it on your face while you’re on the back of some bad boys’ motorcycle. Back in the day there was no helmut law. I was a free spirit.

I never wanted to grow up, or be responsible, or live past 30. For real. I hated the system, didn’t trust “the man”. I think I read some 60’s hippie propaganda when I was a teenager and decided I was a liberal thinking anti-establishment earth child. I drank, quite a bit, did some drugs, went to Grateful Dead shows, and wore flowers in my hair. I still do sometimes. I tried to read The Fountainhead, but never got through it. I wrote a lot, but didn’t save it. I wanted my life to be one long party. An endless adventure. It’s better to burn out, than fade away, Neil Young said. Fuck that.

Amy Winehouse died at 27. So did Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Jim Morrison, all from drug-related causes. Kurt Cobain belongs in the dreaded 27 Club too, but he shot himself. And he was on drugs. I don’t really know if dabbling in something that ultimately kills you is adventurous, but it sure does say a lot. Maybe it’s more like death by misunderstanding or mistake. Except for Kurt Cobain, did the others really mean to kill themselves? They were only some of the best fucking music makers who ever lived. Jeez, being a musician must suck.

I guess those are the consequences of livin’ on the edge. Me, I’m older, I don’t drink or do drugs, I don’t like motorcycles because they scare me, and I wear shoes pretty much everywhere. I’ve gotten my ya-yas out. This certainly ain’t the life I thought I’d have, not when I was young and fearless. But I can still crank some Jimi, and feel alive.

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Anne Clendening ♥

Anne Clendening is an L.A. chick, born and raised. She is a writer of creative nonfiction and other sordid tales of life, love and other L.A. adventures.

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