back to the Black Table

Oopa, Halloween! There's candy, costumes, and, of course, death. Lots of death. No matter how festive your evening of apple-bobbing and candy corn-holing is, there's always that overwhelming feeling that something terribly bad could happen tonight. Perhaps you'll eat a poison Snickers? Or get your face sliced off by a vengeful madman? Or go to the bathroom and suddenly have a family of bats fly out of your ass?

Death is what humans have to look forward to. Death will (hopefully) end our suffering, but alas it will end our happiness as well. Even the good lives, sadly, do end. It's always lurking, always prescient, and just when you think you've conquered the fear of death and begun to fully enjoy life -- Boom! -- bats fly out of your ass.

Sad, I know. And the ladies of the Black Table, though lacking many of the flaws most human beings possess, do, in fact, fear death as well. Yet, it becomes them better than most.

Have a safe Halloween, mighty Black Tablers. Boo, and shit.


Aileen Gallagher

My death will come in a crush of words. Not from pulp poisoning after eating previous drafts of my collected essays. Not from the fatal paper cut I receive from my tastefully-bound manuscript. Not from the carpal tunnel syndrome that comes with signing countless copies of my bestselling tome. And not from the accident that will invariably occur when I try hanging my Pulitzer prize on my office wall. I will be reaching high on the shelf for a book. I didn't write the book, but I've certainly already read it. It's one of those paperbacks that slips easily towards the back, nearly out of reach. The shelf is precarious; I've been meaning for years to buy a new one or get rid of some of these volumes, just to ease the weight. The book is one I've mentioned to a friend I'm about to visit. I've agreed to lend it to her. And as I reach up for that book that made sense of one thing or another, the rest fall. On me. I am lost in a puff of Library of Congress catalogue numbers. I succumb to a swirl of epigraphs.

Aileen Gallagher, author of three children's books, (and another one, about muckraking, on the way!) writes Weekly Rundown every Friday.

Tracy Weiss

Death is scary. Unless it's funny, like how Freddy Krueger makes it. I'm going to be really annoyed if there's no one-liner when it's my turn to head six feet under. It's all a big hassle, really. So many ways to kick it and there's no way of knowing how it's going to be. If my nightmares are any indication, I'm pretty sure my car will plunge out of control off a bridge into an icy river. And while that's pretty unpleasant, I try not to let it bother me. For it's not death that will piss me off. It's what will happen afterwards.

I'm from a town where everyone gets in everyone's business. Needless to say, my funeral would be the event of the season. Jews do death up right. There's more food at a Shiva house then an Old Country Buffet. And that's why the people come: the free food. No matter that I couldn't stand half of the people who come to eat and cry, "Oh she was so spirited, it's so sad." Fuck you. I hated you. I slept with your boyfriends and laughed while you cried. My family paid for that corned beef - put the sammich down! All kinds of assholes climb out of the woodwork to mourn you. Ex-boyfriends you haven't thought of in years are devastated. Anyone in your age group is more bothered that it could be them than at your loss.

Part of the Jewish tradition that mourns the dead, involves the covering of mirrors. Which for young Jewish women is almost as bad as dying.

Do you think God would be pissed off if I am cremated and have my ashes strewn all over Nazi Germany for nostalgic purposes?

Tracy Weiss has a little book where she keeps a list of names and photographs of kicked asses. You do not want to be in this book.


Kathie Fries

I don't want to die ridiculously obese. Lying there like a dead walrus, not able to defend yourself, is not a pleasant thought. Also, can you imagine having to embalm a fat-ass? It would take the funeral attendant months to finish that off.

I would also not like to die choking in a restaurant. Turning blue, with my eyes becoming bulging balls of fright in their sockets, my face frozen with a gagging expression, accentuating any double chin I may have, and slamming into the table. And what if some disgusting bus boy tried to give me CPR after grabbing my boobs after failing miserably at the Heimlich Maneuver? No thanks.

Ideally, I would love to die in a tragic speed-boating accident. After multiple vodka drinks and a little sniff-sniff, I'd be thrown from my lover's boat somewhere near Fiji. I'd get pulled from the water in a coma. For a weeks I'd be hospitalized, wearing a tropical negligee and makeup, as loved ones spazzed out over my plight. Then, I would wake up for a few minutes only to say, "I bring you peace." (Like Mr. Burns in that Simpson's episode where he's wondering around the forest and glowing like an alien.) Then, I would pass on, batting my eyelashes to the next realm.

Kathie Fries is probably really good in bed.


Lynn Harris

Death Be Not A Bummer: Ways I'd Rather Not Go

With my eyelids pinned open being forced to watch Eyes Wide Shut, starved in a glass box dangling over the Thames, in the car wreck that is Jessica Simpson, wearing cargo pants with pumps (fashion victim, ), before the next season of the Sopranos, drowning in deadlines, knowing I'd voted for Arnold, with my eyelids pinned open being forced to watch Terms of Endearment, overexposure, burned by Ethan Hawke, knowing I'd green-lit Gigli, when my kid steps on a crack, at the hands of a character assassin, at the hands of Liza Minelli, knowing I'd voted for Ruben, poisoned by David Brooks' odorless, flavorless neo-con vitriol, recall vote, starved for carbs, crushed by Bennifer's breakup, tortured by the drip of a White House press leak, with my eyelids pinned open being forced to watch Game 7, starved for attention.

Lynn Harris is the "Dating Dictionary" columnist for Glamour and co-creator of


Claire Zulkey

I'm not one of those drink-til-you-pass out, white knucklers in airplanes. Sure, I tense up when the plane experiences major turbulence and I think it should be against the law for pilots to inform you that it's going to be a 'pretty rough' ride without consoling you that it's all going to be okay. But still, I don't mind flying that much, and sometimes, I even enjoy it, as long as the guy next to me wearing the sweaty black socks doesn't take off his shoes.

But still, I think my all-time worst way to die would be in a plane crash. But the plane crash I'm thinking of is very particular, and doesn't occur that often, so that's good news. Most plane accidents we hear of occur either on takeoff or departure. My nightmare takes place at peak altitude, where, for some reason, the plane falls from the sky. See, so you know that you're going to die and have plenty of time to think about it.

I suppose that technically, if this were to happen to me, I wouldn't die from the plane crash, because I have a backup plan. If I were to find myself in this position, I plan on hitting my head, hard and repeatedly, against a hard object until I passed out or killed myself immediately. Or, I would will my heart to stop beating.

I used to have a superstition about planes. I figured that if I touched the outside of the plane upon boarding, it couldn't crash. So every time I got on, I'd solidly place my hand on the side of the plane outside the door before entering. One day, though, I forgot to do it and seriously considered fighting my way back up 20 rows against angry passengers to do it. But I couldn't, and luckily, my plane didn't crash. Now, of course, I avoid touching the outside of the plane like the devil, because that's what's keeping me alive.

Claire Zulkey zulks it daily at and her first book "Girls! Girls! Girls!" can be purchased here.


Amy Blair

I'm going to die by drowning.

I've come close numerous times. I frequently have nightmares about it. I dream of tidal waves, shipwrecks, missing the boat-literally.

The first time I almost drowned was when I was about three years old. I climbed up the ladder to our above-ground swimming pool and jumped in. Luckily, my grandfather looked in and saw me standing there at the bottom of the pool. He grabbed me by the hair and pulled me out. I lived to tell the tale.

The second time I almost drowned, my sister and brother and cousins, in their infinite teenage wisdom, decided to tie me to the front of the motorboat so that I wouldn't fall in. Of course, in choppy water, the front end of a motorboat goes under with each swell. They sped the boat up when they hit the rough water, and I went under like a bobbing Salem witch, over and over and over again. Tied to the front of a damn boat.

My most recent near-drowning was nobody's fault but my own. I went tubing down a river in Texas, guzzling wine from a wine box and cans of Lone Star in the hot, August sun. Inevitably enough, my hangover from the night before, the heat, and the large quantities of alcohol caused me to get a bit out of control. At some point, the rapids picked up, which seemed like great fun. Except, the next thing I knew, about 40,000 Texans were plowing into me, my tube flipped over, and I was trapped under the roots of a tree, underwater, getting kicked and pummeled by Texan after Texan. After what seemed to be an interminable amount of time trapped under this tree, I finally freed myself. Came up with my sunglasses on crooked, a can of Lone Star agonizingly crushed within my right fist, my bathing suit around my waist and my breasts exposed to all of the Texans tubing smoothly by. Needless to say, I haven't felt the same about Texas since. I never even dropped the can of beer.

Plus, I have an uncle who drowned. He was seventeen-smashed his head when diving into a lake and never came up. Don't these things, coincidentally or by higher power, run in families? I'm doomed.

For Halloween, Amy Blair will be dressed as a witch, using her dildo as a broomstick.