It's Only a Foot

A friend of mine and I have been chatting in text messages. One subject was a recent suicide. The son of someone Mama knows shot himself in front of his parents. That strikes me as punk-ass. During my darkest days when I’ve thought of suicide, I’ve always thought that I just couldn’t do that to my mother. It would destroy her. Much less doing it in front of her.

Plus, I have the stubborn streak. Suicide means surrender. I’m more likely to look at the sky and say “That all you got?”

When I was about 15 I sat down by a creek near our house with a pistol. I was going through some heavy shit and couldn’t talk to anyone about it. Suicide seemed like the only way out. But I think being stubborn saved me that time. It just felt like surrender.

That’s why I know that no matter how bad it gets, how much I hurt, or how much I would welcome death, I could never surrender. Then the bastards win. I’m not sure how I feel about people who do go through with it.

I just thought about the time a Cambodian pulled an Uzi sub-machine gun out of his trunk on a friend of mine in a 7-11 parking lot. I sat down on the the truck of my T-bird while they hashed it out. The friend was like “You not going to help me here?” The Cambodian looked me over, and I think he was surprised that I wasn’t afraid. That diffused the situation a lot. I lost that friendship. They guy never understood that my being so calm probably saved both of our lives. I’ve never deluded myself that if my friend had been killed the Cambodian wouldn’t have killed me next.

The point here is that I didn’t, and don’t, fear death. Maybe because of the incident when I was 15. So I don’t pity those who kill themselves. I’ve been there. I know what they’re feeling. But there’s always a chance that things will get better. What chance is there that it’ll get better if you kill yourself?

I just thought of something funny that sort of applies. Years ago I met this truck driver who lost his foot in Vietnam. He stepped on a land mine. He said after it happened he was lying there screaming, begging his buddies to kill him because the pain was so bad. His sergeant yelled at him, “Stop your screaming, you pansy! It’s only a foot! You still have your balls!”

That truck driver said that was his motto from then on. “It’s only a foot.” He said no matter how bad things got for him, he’s say to himself, metaphorically, “It’s only a foot.”

Amen, brother. It’s only foot. You still have your balls.

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