Last Halloween I joined a friend’s Dead Pool, in which we picked the celebrities we thought most likely to die in the next year, and each put in $13. The amount of points you get for a death is 100 minus the age at death. I didn’t think it through at the time, just thought it sounded interesting.
One of my picks died – Eugene McCarthy – and I moved into second place. I felt a little weird, but he was 87, so I figured he’d had a long, good life. Then some other people’s picks died, and I fell out of the running, and I stopped paying attention.
I’d picked a couple of people as “ha-ha, high-risk category” – rap stars and celebrities with drug problems. One of them was Natasha Lyonne, a twenty-something actress I really liked from a 90’s film, Slums of Beverly Hills. Over the last couple of years, she’s had a heroin problem. I picked her just as a goof, I didn’t expect her to die.
Well, it turns out she’s doing really badly. Like, nodding off in the street still holding the syringe badly.
I feel horrible. It’s no longer a game, it’s no longer fun or funny. And it never should have been, I was just being thoughtless. I didn’t really see Natasha as a person before, but just an actress – a Hollywood face, a construct. And now I realize she IS a person, and she’s JUST a person. And I think back to the girl she was in that movie, how vibrant, sassy, and full of life she was, and I can’t believe she might die.
So I withdrew from the Dead Pool. I asked that the organizer keep my money and not announce it, but he told me to take the money back. He’s just going to delete my name from the spreadsheet, and he doubts anyone will notice. (I know only the organizing couple at all well; the others I’ve met only a few times.)
I no longer feel like I have a lead bowling ball in my stomach, but I still feel awful that I could be so craven and thoughtless. I hope she gets the help she needs. Ojalá!6 years ago