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I’m With Stupid – June 3, 2011

BURY MY HEART (BUT NOT THE REST OF ME) AT WOUNDED KNEE
by Todd Hartley

Here’s a word for you all to consider: taphephobia. That’s the fear of being buried alive. When you hear people talk about irrational fears, taphephobia is by no means one of them. Fearing spiders is irrational, at least until you get bit by a black widow. Fearing being buried alive is very, very rational. In fact, if that’s something you’re not afraid of, you’re kind of an idiot. Oh, you may be a brave idiot, but rest assured (as you will see) that you are an idiot nonetheless.

I’m not necessarily not an idiot, but I’m so scared of being buried alive that I once had nightmares for weeks after watching a ski movie wherein a guy hucked a cliff and got buried in his own snow crater upon landing. Sure, the guy was unharmed, but he had a camera crew on hand to dig him out. I could only imagine how terrifying it would have been if he’d been alone.

(The funny thing is that one time I thought I knew exactly how terrifying such a situation would be. I jumped off a cliff while skiing at Snowmass Ski Area and, being fat, stuck deep on my landing. The impact created a giant cloud of snow, and when it settled my face was completely covered. I instantly started to panic thinking I’d buried myself, until I realized there was only about a quarter-inch of snow on my goggles that I could easily wipe away. For that half-second or so, though, I was scared as hell.)

I realize many of you probably think it’s stupid to fear something that will never happen (e.g.: being buried alive), but that’s where you’re wrong. Live burial actually takes place. Admittedly, in this day and age it takes a unique set of circumstances and phenomenally stupid people to make it happen, but it does happen.

The latest example of someone being buried alive occurred just a couple of days ago in the eastern Russian city of Blagoveshchensk, where a man of questionable intelligence persuaded a friend to bury him alive for one night because for some reason he thought it would bring him good luck for the rest of his life.

The man dug a hole in his garden and climbed into a makeshift coffin outfitted with holes for air pipes, a cell phone and a bottle of water. His friend then filled the hole back in with dirt, leaving the coffin buried about eight inches deep, and when the man called on his cell phone to say he was fine, the friend left.

So did this bizarre ritual result in the man being blessed with good luck for the rest of his life? It’s hard to say. When the friend came back the next morning and dug him up, the guy was dead (see what happens when you’re not afraid of being buried alive?), but perhaps he considered himself lucky that night before he suffocated. I kind of doubt it, but I can’t claim to understand how the Russian mind works.

Now, before all you Russian readers get upset and say that one moron’s miscalculation is not indicative of the Russian mind, I’ll have you know that the man was influenced by numerous Russian bloggers who have written about undergoing self-burial, as well as a feature story on the practice that ran in the state newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta.

Amazingly enough, the man wasn’t even the first person in Russia to accidentally kill himself through self-burial. Last summer a man in the northwestern Vologda region was crushed to death after convincing a friend to bury him to help him overcome his fear of death, which, in a sense, I guess he accomplished. Certainly, once someone is dead it’s probably safe to say they’re not scared of dying anymore.

Thankfully, I’m not Russian and, thus, unlikely to ever voluntarily bury myself alive. I also like to think I have yet to make such fierce enemies that people would take it upon themselves to bury me involuntarily. I could be wrong on this last point, but if someone really hates me that much, they have so far kept it to themselves.

As a final note, just to make sure there’s no chance of my being buried alive, I would like to state right now my desire to be cremated when I die. Of course, that plays into my fear of being burned alive – a condition known as pyrophobia – but that’s a subject for another column.

Todd Hartley now understands why we won the Cold War.

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