As a writing prompt, I chose to answer the following question from Wes Hazard’s Questions For Terrible People: 250 Questions You’ll Be Ashamed To Answer.
Pop Quiz: Would you rather be beaten to death with: a) a lead pipe, b) an Academy Award statue c) a bowling pin? Explain your reasoning in detail.
I would like to start off by saying that I would prefer to not be beaten to death, but that’s probably obvious. I also want to immediately eliminate the choice of being beaten to death with a lead pipe because it’s boring and unoriginal. I would choose the bowling pin, but let me first explore the Academy Award option, because it has the potential to be interesting.
In the ninety years that Academy Awards have existed, there hasn’t been a single instance in which someone has been murdered with the trophy. If Jimmy Kimmel hosts next year’s ceremony, this might change. Why? For the last two years, Kimmel has hosted the show, and both years, he surprised “regular, everyday people” by either bringing them into the ceremony, or bringing movie stars to a movie theater located directly across the street. I don’t know if Kimmel will be hosting for a third year in a row, but this gag is on the cusp of getting old, and if he does, I don’t see how he’ll be able to continue this charade without incorporating some form of violence. If you combine America’s love of violence with their love of celebrity culture, then it is almost inevitable that, at next year’s ceremony, Kimmel will take a bunch of actors to the movie theater across the street from the awards ceremony, where they will immediately bludgeon people to death with Oscar trophies. Viewers at home won’t be the only ones to enjoy this. People in the movie theater will beg to be bludgeoned. “Oh my God! Channing Tatum! I’m your biggest fan! Hit the left side of my skull! It’s a little softer than the right side!” Covered in blood, people will get up from the floor midway through being murdered in order to take selfies with their executioners, making it a point, of course, to create some complicated hand gesture with their fingers in order to look like rappers, even though they’re white and aren’t even sure why they’re doing that. They’ll then post the photos on Instagram before losing consciousness, writing:
OMG! Was literally in a movie theater when Julia Roberts literally walked in and literally started literally hitting me with her Oscar. Literally the best night of my life. #AcademyAwards #Literally
The next day, newscasters will comment on how funny and charming the whole thing was, not once mentioning that James Holmes is rotting in jail for doing something similar in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater.
Out of all three objects—a lead pipe, an Academy Award statue, and a bowling pin—the Academy Award is the object that I am practically guaranteed to never come into contact with. My social circle is extremely limited, and it certainly doesn’t include any Oscar winners. According to Gregory Baer’s book Life: The Odds (And How to Improve Them), one’s best chance of winning an Oscar is if they’re a music director or composer. Baer writes:
The guild is not very large, and there are often multiple Oscars awarded each year. If you are a music professional and are involved in a movie project, your odds of winning an Oscar are 1,666 to 1 each year. In contrast, the odds for some dopey actor are 20,000 to 1.
I don’t know any music directors or composers. Nor do I know any cinematographers, editors, sound editors, costume designers, directors, screenplay writers, or documentary filmmakers. I know a few dopey actors, but none of them are going to appear in a major motion picture, much less win an Oscar. Even if they did, I would not be in their homes, or at the Academy Awards, so it’s a near certainty that I will never be in any geographical proximity to an Academy Award. Getting back to the examples involving Jimmy Kimmel, I mentioned that when he hosted the Oscars in 2017, he arranged it so that a group of tourists walked into the ceremony. That could never happen to me because I have no interest in visiting Los Angeles. In 2018’s show, he brought celebrities to a movie theater across the street, but I would never be in that movie theater because 1) I don’t live in Los Angeles, and, 2) I don’t go to the movies. By the way, I think it would have been interesting if Paul Reubens(the actor who played Peewee Herman) had been in that movie theater, masturbating, when Kimmel and those other celebrities walked in. If I were masturbating when, out of nowhere, Gal Gadot suddenly appears before me, I would no longer be able to call myself an atheist.
There are only two ways in which I could ever come into close proximity of an Academy Award. The first would be this hypothetical (or at least I hope it’s hypothetical) situation in which I would have to pick which object to be beaten to death with. I’m assuming that my assailant would just place the lead pipe, the Academy Award, and the bowling pin on the table and, in a menacing tone, say, “Choose.” The other way in which I might come into close proximity of an Academy Award is if Viola Davis got tired of me constantly harassing her on social media, came to my house with her Oscar, and beat me to death with it. I’ve had an intense hatred for Davis ever since I heard this megalomaniac’s Oscar acceptance speech in 2017 when she won the Best Actress category for her role in Fences. The delusional Davis said, “I became an artist, and thank God I did, because we are the only profession to celebrate what it means to live a life.” Poor grammar aside, I wondered how firefighters felt about that assertion. How about soldiers who have roadside bombs detonate ten feet away from them? Relief workers in Haiti? Doctors who work to cure AIDS and cancer? Their work must leave them feeling worthless. Surely, they must wake up every morning saying to themselves, “Why must I be living such a pointless life? Why can’t I spend my days playing make belief like Viola Davis? She’s an artist, and artists are the only profession to celebrate what it means to live a life.” I’ve been unfortunate enough to have spent a lot of time around actors, and sadly, that level of delusional narcissism that Davis displayed is the norm. Every time I’ve ever been with people of various professions, the artist has always, without exception, been the least interesting person in the room. And always, without exception, the artist seems to both think and behave as if the exact opposite were true. Davis’s Oscar speech filled me with rage, but it was also a pivotal moment for me, because my subsequent daily, online harassment of her, which has been going on for fourteen months now, instilled in me a sense of direction and focus that, up until that point in my life, had been missing. Mark Twain once said, “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” The day I found out why I was born was on February 26, 2017. That was the day I discovered that I was born to torment Viola Davis. And if I don’t anger her to the point where she eventually shows up on my doorstep with a weapon, I will feel as if I have failed. Even if I do anger her to the point in which she wants to kill me, what are the chances that she would use her Academy Award as her weapon of choice? It’s hard to say. I don’t know how important symbolism is to her. As for the mathematical odds of this occurrence, again, I don’t know. I’m not Nate Silver, but I would put the odds at around twenty-six percent.
While far less prestigious, it would probably be better to be beaten to death with an Emmy Award than an Oscar trophy. The Emmy has sharp points which could result in a much quicker death, especially if one’s assailant hits a vital artery. Viola Davis has won an Emmy too, so that might just happen. What did she win the Emmy for? Hold on. I’m typing it into the Google machine. Let’s see. It says here…OH FUCK! She won an Emmy for her role in the series How to Get Away With Murder. Maybe I shouldn’t antagonize Viola Davis after all.
The Stanley Cup is the perfect murder weapon because the people who are tasked with handling the cup have always worn gloves so that they don’t leave finger prints on it.
The Pulitzer Prize looks like a large coin, like a marathon medal without the ribbon that you put around your neck. If they were to attach a ribbon to the Pulitzer Prize, I would feel honored to be strangled to death with it. I would much rather win a Pulitzer than be strangled with one, but beggars can’t be choosers.
For now, I’ll just have to settle for being beaten to death with my framed Employee of the Month certificate from McDonald’s. Getting beaten to death with the Nobel Peace Prize would also be–
“Stay focused, Keith!”
You’re right. After all, my choices are a lead pipe, an Academy Award, or a bowling pin. And I would choose the bowling pin. Bowling has played an interesting, albeit terrible, role in my family’s history. My parents met at Parkway Lanes, a bowling alley in Elmwood Park, New Jersey. I don’t know what my father said to my mother, but since he likes to state the obvious more than any human being I’ve ever known, I’m guessing it was something along the lines of, “I see that you’re bowling, huh?” Somehow, this worked.
That very same bowling alley was the one where my mother’s uncle, Danny Solimine, once bowled a 299. He had never bowled a perfect game, and on this particular night, he had been throwing strike after strike after strike. It got to the point where strangers started to take notice. And then there were even more strikes. Now everyone in that bowling alley took notice, and stopped bowling. They came over to Danny’s lane and cheered wildly as he threw even more strikes. Finally, on the last frame, a perfect game just ten pins away, he knocked every pin down…except for one. And that last pin fucking wobbled before staying upright. Understandably, Danny collapsed to the floor. This was in 1966. He didn’t get back up until 1987. Okay, so I made that last part up. But if you thought that Danny couldn’t feel any worse that night, you would be wrong, because at that moment, the owner of the bowling alley actually gave him the pin! When I first heard this story, which was decades ago, I swore that if I were Danny, I would have beaten him to death with it (and this was decades before I read Questions For Terrible People, which wasn’t written until 2016). Oddly enough, Danny kept the pin! Why would someone do that? Why would that sick fuck who owned Parkway Lanes offer Danny the pin in the first place? And even worse, why would Danny keep it? Why would he want that reminder of such a gut-wrenching near-miss? I would rather throw twelve straight gutter balls and end up with a score of zero than bowl a 299. Or maybe I could deal with the 299 if the one pin I failed to knock down occurred much earlier in the game. But to go into the last frame with a perfect score and bowl a 299? With the last pin wobbling? There’s only two ways to deal with that. You either never bowl again, or you bowl non-fucking stop until you get that 300. To say that I would have chosen the latter is the biggest understatement in the history of understatements. Not only would I have bowled every night, but I would have locked myself in the bowling alley’s broom closet so that I could keep on playing in secret after they closed up for the night. As of the last time that I saw Danny, which was at my grandfather’s funeral in 1999, he had still never bowled a perfect game, and he was already in his seventies by then. All my memories of him took place in Ortley Beach, New Jersey. He and my grandfather owned a split bungalow there, and we would go there every summer. They were nice memories, and he enjoyed his family and the beach and the sunshine. And yet I can’t help but to feel that he was doing something wrong. He should have been bowling.
Maybe Danny didn’t lock himself in bowling alley broom closets because he had better coping mechanisms than I do. Maybe his experiences while serving in WWII gave him a healthy amount of perspective that I am obviously lacking. But I would like to think that he’s somehow still alive, pushing 100 years of age, still launching balls at pins in a New Jersey bowling alley, and finally achieving that 300. It seems unlikely though, doesn’t it?
I would choose to be beaten to death with a bowling pin because bowling has played such a horrible role in my family’s history. Yes, my parents met through bowling, but they also got divorced when I was three. Worse than that, their coupling resulted in the existence of my older brother, a piece of human garbage and their biggest mistake, a mistake that they (rightfully) regret and who—you can’t make this stuff up—lives in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
My brother’s existence. My parent’s divorce. Danny’s 299 game. So much misery caused by bowling. My being beaten to death with a bowling pin wouldn’t erase my parent’s mistakes, and it wouldn’t give Danny Solimine a 300 game. But if I sacrifice myself to the Bowling Gods, maybe I could finally end this cycle of misery before more lives are ruined.
cc: Bowling For Soup
The Pied Piper
Rowdy Roddy Piper
Oscar De la Hoya
Oscar The Grouch