10-List: 10 Ways That I Will Not Die


This is one I’ve been thinking about, just for fun. I mean, what’s more fun than thinking about ways to die?

I can tell you. Thinking about ways I probably will not die.

This stems from a conversation—several such conversations, truthfully—that I had with Sharon, my wife. It concerned one of the many tragedies we hear about on the news every day. You realize, as I do, that tragic deaths are the gasoline that fuels what passes as news on television and, apparently, other forms of media, such as my internet home page. I’ve avoided watching the news for that very reason.

It’s like that Don Henley song (co-written with Danny Kortchmar) “Dirty Laundry,” which is all about the proliferation of bad news on television. The lyric It’s interesting when people die haunts me.

I have a preoccupation with my own death that some may consider unhealthy, but I don’t. Accepting your own eventual demise is the ultimate expression of the Socratic dictim, in my opinion. Any life insurance agent worth her salt could refer to the actuarial tables and tell me how and when I’m most likely to die, based on my current age, weight, bad habits and family medical history. Like Han Solo, I don’t want anyone to tell me the odds.

That sort of extrapolation is boring and not fun to think about.

Sharon and I were talking about someone who died while climbing Mount Everest. Doesn’t matter who. There have been a whole bunch. There’s even a wikipedia page listing the 305 known deaths associated with climbing Everest. It apparently hasn’t been updated since May 2019, which saw 11 such deaths (separate deaths, I should add, not the result of a single broken rope or an avalanche), or else no one has died in the three months since. You know, looking at the list, there seem to be deaths every year in April and May. Maybe that’s just the peak season (see what I did there?). Anyway . . . I digress—

During our conversation about Everest, I said, “I know who isn’t going to die climbing Mount Everest: This guy!” You have to imagine me pointing my thumb towards my own chest. Just the one thumb. I was driving at the time and kept my left hand at the 10-o’clock position.

This led to further conversation—mostly one-sided—about all the ways I’m certain I won’t die. Sharon may have quipped that driving one-handed cannot be on that list, or I may have just made that up for verisimilitude. We were driving to Little Rock at the time, about thirty minutes away, so I had time to riff off a very long list.

Which I will now pare down to only ten. Because this is a 10-List.

In no particular order . . . just know that there are long odds on any of these.


  1. Rock Climbing — I already made my comment about Everest, but this includes anything rocky and mostly vertical. Some may climb Everest merely because it’s there. I don’t climb it for the same reason.
  2. Attempting to Break the Land Speed Record — I will never be strapped into any conveyance driven by a rocket. So, this rules out going to the Moon as well.
  3. Skydiving Accident — I may die in a plane crash because I keep flying even though I hate it. But, I will never jump out of one on purpose. For brevity’s sake, this includes any type of BASE jumping as well. Throw in hang gliding for good measure.
  4. Broken Zipline — By now, you may have gotten the impression that I’m not really an adrenaline junkie. You would be correct. No one’s ever gotten injured by not ziplining.
  5. Eaten by a Shark While Scuba Diving along The Great Barrier Reef — This one is oddly specific because I’ve been on boats and ships before, and could imagine getting eaten by a shark if I suddenly found myself swimming in the ocean after a Titanic-type situation. The Great Barrier Reef part is because the very long flight time to Australia may actually keep me from ever going there.
  6. Storming a Nazi Machine Gun Nest — Because World War II ended a long time ago, time travel is improbable, and I’m not currently living the sort of lifestyle that requires me to knowingly interact with Nazis.
  7. Choking While Winning (or Losing) a Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest — I could conceivably choke on a Nathan’s hot dog, but I will never enter any eating contest. For that matter, I’ll never soak my hot dog buns in water, either.
  8. Heroin Overdose on the Toilet — There is a resurgence in heroin use in the US, I know, and that’s not funny. However, at this stage of my life, I’m unlikely to be lured by the cachet of intravenous drug use. I haven’t ruled out accidental opioid overdose: I want to make that clear. The toilet thing was just an homage to Lenny Bruce.
  9. Shot in a Mexican Standoff — This is because I just watched True Romance again, with its ridiculous three-way shootout during the last act that Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette inexplicably survived. This led me to thinking about Quentin Tarantino in general and his love of Mexican standoffs. Also, it made me wonder if the term Mexican standoff is inherently racist.

And, finally . . .

10) Assassinated by a Political Dissident — Again, I said “unlikely,” not impossible. But, I usually avoid crowds of people waving placards and shouting strongly-held political beliefs, I never intend to run for any elected office (I couldn’t survive the vetting process), and, as a rule, I avoid motorcades and parades and hotel kitchens.

There are a lot of other ways I know I probably won’t die—killed by a falling spotlight while accepting an Academy Award; you know, stuff like that—but this is a 10-List and it would be unethical for me to bend my own rules by adding something like “competing in an Iron Man Triathalon” or “recreating Evel Knievel’s Caesars Palace stunt.”

The premise just seems to grow stale if you go for more than ten.


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