Word Count 496
The Twenty-seven Club
By Mike Cecconi
I am no longer merely older than that age when celebrities die tragically to lock in their iconic beauty forever, some put it around twenty-seven, in fact I am almost too old to even be socially accepted dating someone in that range. If I am lucky enough to live a few more decades, I’ll be old enough to be their father. I am closer to the age Amy Winehouse’s parents, for one example, should have been than to the appropriate age of her lover at the time of her death. This interests the hell out of me and not just because of a fascination with my own increasingly-aging libido.
Kurt Cobain’s death was a Schrodinger’s box, as with all mysterious ends for the pretty people, beauty sealed in by tragedy, Tupperware fresh. Kurt was a famous person you almost assuredly didn’t know but if you are of a certain age and demographic, you probably have a theory on how and why he died anyway. You never met him, you probably never saw him play live, you might not even own anything he recorded but you probably still have your theory anyway. Maybe you think he killed himself because he could no longer handle the fame he’d once so desired. Maybe you think he killed himself because he had untreated depression that would’ve consumed him as a rock star or Wal-Mart greeter just the same. Maybe you believe that his wife killed him out of jealousy, to secure herself as the role of Famous Rock Widow for the rest of her days. The truth of how and why he died will be forever beyond you, you weren’t there, and it’s irrelevant to your life, anyway. Whichever theory of his death reinforces or justifies your worldview is the one that you’ll believe. Kurt Cobain… Jack Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, Jim Morrison, anyone like that… their deaths are closed-up box of which we can never be certain, so we will project what makes us feel secure into their gravestones. I know I do. We all do. This is not some individual flaw, it is a damage endemic to the species, how we always perceive reality in relation to our own needs.
Even if Janis Joplin were alive today and I were her same age, twenty-seven, I doubt that she’d be smitten with me. She had her choice of ten million mysterious rock boys with tight stomachs and roguish histories, at any age, I’m just a heavy guy who types a lot. But because she is dead, because she died at the height of her mystique and talent and beauty a decade before I was even born, I can project myself onto her story and pretend that I would have had a chance with her.
Not now, of course, but at least when I was younger. That’s how it works. A sandwich wistful harmless fantasy tucked between two slices of whole-grain toasted vague regrets. That’s how you know you’re getting old.