Thursday, July 13, 2006

Am I Dead?

My friend Brian Roper recently wrote a funny piece about Googling his own name and discovering all sorts of things about himself that he didn’t know. He learned, for instance, that his teenage dream of becoming a musician had come true—and in a big way. He is a member of not just one, but several bands around the world. He also discovered that he is a sports star, a hairdresser, and a college professor who will be giving a lecture at Oxford next week. In other words, there are many Brian Ropers, all over the world, enaged in all sorts of occupations.

I too have Googled my own name, and like Brian I have discovered that not all the results refer to me, but to some other Mack White, or to the truck companies Mack and White, or other combinations of the words. It can be quite entertaining.

But one day, while Googling my name, I made a terrible discovery--one I wish I had never made. I discovered that I am dead.

No, I don’t mean one of those other Mack Whites. I mean me, this Mack White sitting right here, the one and only Col. Mack W. “Bison Bill” White, artist, writer, conspiracy researcher, troublemaker, proprietor of and, host of your favorite podcast the Mack White Show, and all-around whiz kid. Me, myself, and I. Mack White. I am dead.

I made this discovery in an article posted on the American Patriot Friends Network message board. Here’s the link if you don’t believe me. Scroll down the page to where the author of the article leads into an excerpt from my own article The Yogurt Shop Murders by writing this grim sentence: “The writer, Mack White, is deceased.”

I’m not ashamed to admit I cried when I read that. It hit me hard. I’ve known Mack White a long time—all my life, in fact. We've been closer than brothers. We’ve done everything together—and I mean everything: we’ve worked together, played together, eaten together, gone to the bathroom together. We’ve done it all, and always together. You might say we were inseparable. Therefore, I cannot tell you what a cruel shock it was to learn of his passing, and how difficult it is to believe he is gone. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to believe it, really.

Maybe it’s not true. Did anyone actually see the body? Is it possible the author is mistaken? Lord, I hope so.

All kidding aside, you have no idea what a creepy feeling I get whenever I read those words. You can, however, get some idea by typing the sentence yourself and putting your own name where mine is. You won’t like reading it either.

And yet, as unpleasant as you will find the experience, you still will not feel the full range of emotions—the shock, the horror, the permanent aftertaste of creepiness—I felt upon discovering that sentence, because you typed the sentence yourself and were prepared for its effect. In my case, however, the sentence was written by someone else, who apparently really believes I am dead (I have no idea why) and when I read it I was unprepared. It was thrust on me, sudden-like, with no warning.

Also, when you type your sentence, you will probably delete it, quickly, and forget about it, or try to. You will certainly not post it on the Internet where nothing is ever truly deleted or forgotten. But, in my case, those dreadful words (“The writer, Mack White, is deceased”) will remain on the Internet forever, or for at least as long as there is an Internet.

The only comfort I can take—and it's a big one—is that the words are untrue. For now, that is. There will come a time (I don’t know when, and I don’t want to know) when truth will finally catch up with the words. But in the meantime it is not true that I am dead, so don’t you believe it. I am as alive as you are, and happy to be able to say it.