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Nine Aspirin Is Not EnoughVic Pittman Salem-News.com
Thoughts on suicide by someone who tried, but failed. Includes song "Suicide is Painless" by Johnny Mandel, the soundtrack from MASH.
(SALEM, Ore.) - I was five when the concept of suicide first entered my mind. My friend's father slashed his wrists one night after fighting with his wife. They lived right across the street from us. I was stunned by the act.
I knew that people killed other people sometimes, but for someone to kill themselves seemed so out there, so bizarre. It ran against all I had learned and believed. As I stood across the street from my friend's house, watching as his father was loaded into the ambulance, I could not have imagined that four years later, I would attempt nearly that very same thing.
Fast forward to age nine. I was a pretty happy kid, had lots of friends, a great family and a new bicycle. My passion was art; drawing especially, and I loved all the kudos and encouragement I got from it.
One day I went with my parents to the Fairway Plaza Pharmacy in Woodburn. It was more of a variety store in the order of Rite-Aid or Pay-Less. I went over to the book section where I saw a book on drawing female nudes. It had a sketch of a seated nude woman on the cover. I looked through it, utterly fascinated! I could draw this! I studied the book until my parents came and told me we were leaving.
Back at home, I tried my first nude. She came out a bit lopsided, and one breast was larger than the other, but for a nine year old artist, wasn't bad. I couldn't wait to get to school the next day!
The next day arrived, and as soon as I had a chance, I showed off my new found skills to my friends, drawing right before their eyes a seated nude woman with breasts, nipples, and even a generous pelt of pubic hair.
They squealed with delight and astonishment at my creation, and I was feeling a rockstar-like sense of power rising inside me when suddenly a claw-like hand grabbed my arm, another snatching up my drawing. It was my teacher, and she was MAD!
I certainly did not expect this reaction after all, I had drawn what I saw on the cover of a book in a store... how could it be so bad?
She wrenched me out of my chair/desk and marched me to the Principal's office. By now I was scared. I had been to the Principal's office before, but by the way everyone was acting, I could tell I was in big trouble.
The Principal looked at my picture for what seemed like ten minutes, not saying a word. I was watching his face for some sign of what would follow, but true to form, he was expressionless. Then he asked me if my parents were home. My PARENTS??? Good God! I thought... What have I done???
I told him that my mother was, but my dad was at work. He got his overcoat and his car keys and we walked out to the parking lot. My mind was racing... this had never happened before, not to me or anyone I knew! The Principal of the whole school was taking me home. I was probably kicked out of school for life, I would probably be sent to Maclaren School for Boys, which was conveniently just a couple of miles from our house anyway.
I was going to be in trouble at home, and I had no idea how much because I didn't know I had done anything wrong in the first place, and now everyone was freaking out and all this was because of a picture.....??
We got to my house and my mother came to the door. The Principal handed my amateur porn to my mother.."This is what Vic drew in class today."
Surprisingly, my mother did not freak out. To me she seemed surprised, but not angry. "It isn't bad for a nine year old." she answered.
"That isn't the point." he replied.
I went into my room and left them to talk. Eventually I heard his vacuum-cleaner-sounding Cadillac start up and leave. I explained to my mom about the book at the Rexall, and that I didn't think I was doing anything wrong.
She seemed unconcerned and was not even angry with me. However, my dad was the disciplinarian of the family and I dreaded his arrival home. What would he think? My mother wasn't mad, but she hardly ever got mad anyways. As I lay there steeping in sorrow, self-pity and righteous indignation, a plan began to form. I was going to kill myself. And they would all be sorry, from my hag teacher to the idiot Principal who was going to kick me out of school.
Maybe my parents would sue him and get him fired and get his vacuum cleaner Cadillac. And all my friends would be sad and would always miss me and wish the damned adults would have treated me better.
But how to do it?
I certainly wasn't going to cut my wrists like my friend's dad. I looked in the medicine cabinet and found my answer... I was going to overdose on aspirin. I had heard of Maryln Monroe dying from too many pills, probably not asprin, but it was all I had to work with.
I knew that the most my mother ever gave me at one time was one. Sometimes she just gave me half an aspirin. I figured that five would do it, but I wanted to be sure so I decided on nine...one for each year of my short life. It took a while, but I got all nine down, then went to my room and got into bed to await the Reaper. I had some misgivings, but told myself that it was too late, the aspirin was already in my system, all there was to do now was wait for death.
About three hours later, I woke up when my dad came home from work. I had dozed off waiting for death. I was miraculously still alive and was listening through the wall as he and mom talked. Finally I heard "Vic" - "the Principal" and other snippets of conversation that told me my crime was being discussed. Then I heard them laugh!
Could that be? Laughing? I got out of bed and came into the living room. Not only were they not mad at me, they were angry at the Principal for making such a big deal out of it!
Suddenly I remembered the aspirin. I looked at the clock and saw that it had been over three hours. I didn't feel even nauseous. I decided to keep my failed suicide to myself - it was some fifteen years later when I told them.
Suicide has been on my mind lately, not that I consider it, but that I find it incredible that more people do not choose it. I see so much sadness in the world, so much loneliness, so much despair.
Many of my friends are unemployed now, selling off possessions to pay bills. Our own sign business of 22 years has slowed to a crawl. We have seen many good, hard-working customers of ours go under in just the last year.
I feel for people with young children and families that are having hard times. Here within "The World's Only Superpower" families are living in their cars and in tents in the woods.
What kind of "Superpower" gives billions to bankers for failing and kicks people out of their houses once they get four payments behind? What kind of "Superpower" has millions of children without any kind of health care while the politicians have the best health care in the world for life? Can we really be called a "Superpower" when we are so far in debt that our GNP doesn't even cover the interest on our national debt?
These days a lot of people are hurting. I try to remember this in my dealings with others, to be kind and patient because everyone for the most part is having a hard time. I would bet that every one of you have at one time or another, considered suicide.
There have been other times throughout my life when I considered hitting the restart button, but am very glad that I never did. I enjoy seeing my children living their lives and now have a grandson that I adore and appreciate getting to know.
Life ain't always easy, but it usually is worthwhile. I have found that if I feel my life is meaningless, it is my own fault. There are a lot of needs out there, and always many others in a worse state of despair than I could ever imagine.
As the economy continues to contract and more and more of us fall off the hayride of capitalism, I hope that instead of turning on ourselves or each other or becoming predatory amongst ourselves, we will take the opposite road and remember that we are all pretty much in the same boat.
Turn on the so called leaders that have reigned over and seem committed to our national suicide. Turn on (or off) the mainstream media which has become the Ministry of Information for the government and the global financiers.
Turn on the lying Generals with their medals and timeworn lies about how we are winning and cannot quit just yet... another year, another decade.. it is all worth it", they reassure us,"a noble cause", just before they head to a luncheon with their defense contractor friends.
But let us have the wisdom not to turn on ourselves or one another. I think that the US is in for a difficult time in the years to come. People are going to be hurting beyond the scope of what we as Americans are used to seeing.
Like my friend's father, the working class has been bled dry, but it wasn't suicide, it was theft and lies and piracy on a scale never before seen. God forbid that the tragedy be compounded by good people ending their lives out of despair. We will get through this...most of us may be poorer, but hopefully the end result will be a purer, fairer and more representative form of government and society.
So what do I think about suicide? I think no person can judge another who chooses to end their life. I do not believe that "suicides go to Hell", or that it is a selfish act. I do think it should be an absolute last resort, as it usually is. I do know this... nine aspirin is not enough.
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