My Epitaph

Although I’d like to have my ashes scattered bit by bit at beautiful viewpoints throughout the American West (as I’m doing with my Mom’s ashes), they’ll probably wind up in some Japanese cemetery. But if I were conventionally buried, this quotation is what I would have put on the headstone, below my name and dates. I’m not kidding, I really would do it:

He was a sucker for women. His record shows that—

the only falls he took were over women.

And once a chump, always a chump.

—Sam Spade, in The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

I hope that you will not take this as misogyny. There are many reasons to prefer women to men (to cite just one, they are about 20 times less likely to murder you). But ultimately, it’s case by case—both men and women run the full gamut from saints to reprobates, geniuses to fools (sometimes simultaneously in the same person). None of us get to choose who to be born as (or when or where to be born, or what family to be born into). None of us can help being who we are, so assigning blame is futile. But if you must assign blame in this case, then blame the chump for being a chump.