For some reason, I can't board a plane without imagining how I'd react if it experienced some sort of mechanical failure and crashed into the earth, killing everyone on board, most importantly myself.
Even before boarding, I review my most recent communications, cell phone calls and e-mail messages, for their suitability in newspaper articles or eulogies.
Perhaps something to put the issues of life in perspective.
"'Off to the mother country. I was too cheap to spring for my immunizations...let's hope I don't catch Hep-B! Love, Euge,'" my sister would read from a printout of an e-mail. "What he didn't know was that just a short while later, Hep B would be the least of his worries when flight 82 passed over the Bering Strait and suddenly dropped into a death spiral."
Or the amusing and trivial anecdote, something to personalize me to strangers, or to remind close ones of my life's concerns. "'oh btw, do you have that girl's phone number in beijing? e-mail it to me at my gmail acct. let's hope she remembers me. put in a good word for me if you get the chance. alright, later dude,'" one of my buddies would paraphrase from a brief chat session held the day of my fateful flight. "Well, I sent him that phone number, and it's waiting for you buddy, wherever you are now."
How about my last day's activities? How would they play out in, let's say, a sequel to Gus Van Sant's sober trilogy of death that includes Gerry, Elephant, and Last Days? Would my final interactions reflect well on me?
"He always ask for his shirt folded, no starch," the plump, middle-aged Chinese woman who does my dry cleaning would recall, dabbing at her eyes with a handkerchief. "But this time I forget and starch his shirt. He pat me on the shoulder and say, 'It's okay, Rainbow, a bit of starch every now and then helps to restore one's resolve.' I not know what he mean. But he a kind man."
I imagine in vivid detail how I'd react in my last moments.
While bent over in the crash landing tuck, I might turn my head and gaze upon the overweight, balding businessman in the seat next to me. Then I'd remove the oxygen mask from my face to reveal an expression of preternatural calm and offer him my palm. He'd grasp it, and I'd give his hand a reassuring squeeze, as if to say, "I've been through this dozens of times in my head...just follow my lead."