The last resort

To anyone who occasionally reads the paper, it’s common knowledge that we live in an aging society. Certainly plenty of politicians find it beneficial to remind us of the oncoming deluge of retiring Baby Boomers destined to “bankrupt Social Security.” The other side of the coin, however, is that more Americans are wealthier than ever before. It actually makes perfect sense; the longer someone’s alive (and working), the more time they have to accumulate wealth. If you multiply this by the percentage of older earners, you wind up with a lot of relatively wealthy, aging people. The big bum-out-parade-rainer, of course, is terminal disease, particularly cancer, which presently accounts for about half of all American deaths.

The unfortunate fact is that no matter how rich you are, how well you eat, or how much you exercise, you still have a pretty good chance of getting the ol’ big C. Of course your odds are a little better than a lifetime smoker, but we’ve all heard the story of the old fucker who died at a hundred and ten, and when alive insisted, “it was the walks to the corner store for Luckys that kept me healthy.”

Okay, so what am I getting at? This isn’t a doom and gloom post about cancer; it’s a post about alchemy, turning shit into Shinola, if you will. To my knowledge, the Whatsit hasn’t been used to propagate a business plan. That is, until now. So here’s the pitch:

Your uneventful flight, in which you traveled first-class, has come to a smooth landing. A voice floats through the intercom: “Welcome to Caracas where the local time is approximately 10:45 AM, and the temperature is a lovely twenty-eight degrees Celsius …” You easily catch your connecting flight, a little twin-prop twenty-seater, to your final destination, a small high-end resort at the northeast coast of the Paraguana Peninsula.

You are not in Venezuela for any normal vacation; you are here because it is the location for my proposed business: a luxury resort where people diagnosed with terminal disease may travel to be euthanized in a peaceful and comfortable setting. Believe me, this is no harebrained idea; I’ve put a lot of thought into this.

Originally I was convinced that Cuba would be the perfect location for Death Island (it’s only the working title, people). Cuba has the perfect combination of Caribbean climate, close proximity to the U.S., and ruler who likes to give American presidents the ol’ one-finger salute. (This, of course, is extremely important to my plan since the U.S. government, especially the current administration, ain’t none too keen on doctor-assisted suicide.) With Fidel’s current condition, however, the political climate in Cuba is a little too shaky. What I mean is, the last thing we would want is a new government that panders to America. This would spell death for Death Island.

On to Plan B: Venezuela. On the northern tip of South America, Venezuela is still a relatively short flight from the U.S.; it has an average temperature of twenty-seven degrees Celsius, and miles of coastline. Moreover, one couldn’t ask for a better ruler for this project than Hugo Chavez; he’s young, relatively healthy, and may like pissing off the American government, specifically W., even more than Castro does/did.

Assuming we work out the question of location, accommodations at Death Island will consist of single-unit bungalows gathered in an area of approximately one mile by a quarter with a small landing strip on the edge of the property. We will have a fine dining restaurant called Pauline’s Kitchen (after my mom), and a casual bar and grill called Cap’n Jack’s. Massages and room service will be available twenty-four hours a day, as will access to the swimming pools and spa areas. Ultimately, we will be aiming for the highest level of service possible. Let us not forget that this will be our customers’ last vacation.

The modus operandi mortem is simple (as all good plans are). Guests are welcome to stay as long as they like (assuming they’re terminal), and when they’re ready to pass on, they simply leave a note with any employee. The message will be relayed to a staff member to check the signature for authenticity, and then to the nurse on duty who will lace the client’s evening cocktail with a sedative. After dinner, the client will be put to bed and injected with the appropriate drug mixture by the staff doctor. The customer dies calmly in a sound sleep while the tropical evening air blows through an open window (think Club Med meets Kevorkian). Of course, guests may bring whomever they’d like to be with them as they pass, and after everyone has said their goodbyes, the staff prepares the body and transports it wherever the deceased previously requested.

My business proposal for Death Island was inspired by two conditions: the first, of course, is the freako Christian conservatives’ hijacking of moral authority in the U.S. and working to keep us alive at all costs (think of poor Terri Schiavo), and second, an aging, wealthy population, approximately half of whom will be diagnosed with terminal cancer. At least secretly, conservatives should respect my ability to foresee a market-need and my desire to make a buck. “Morality,” after all, has always been more flexible under the weight of a solid dollar.

Do I need to say that this was intended as satire? Since I fear the current administration, I probably should. Paranoia aside, I have no intention of seeking out investors to actually implement my Death Island plan; I do, however, feel zero ambivalence about the idea. If I were terminally ill, I would certainly prefer Death Island to other alternatives like blowing my head off in a motel room. Those who have witnessed what the final stages of cancer look like when worn by a loved one may agree that there is little dignity involved. Moreover, I will never understand the twisted logic, love, morality, (fill in whichever noun you prefer) that informs the need to keep people alive once they’ve already passed from their former selves, and have become hollow simulacra. Instead, I say, “Smiles, everyone, smiles; welcome to Death Island!”

10 responses to “The last resort”

  1. Lane says:

    Great idea, you will of course need some paintings for the rooms, the lobby and the chapel. Please keep me in mind.

  2. Trixie Honeycups says:

    maybe cedric and i can be the staff doctors?

  3. Scott Godfrey says:

    Lane and Trixie,

    I find your desire to be involved in D.I. to be quite touching. It reminds me of my previous big dream, a commune. Perhaps we could combine the two concepts.

  4. Dave says:

    What if this kind of thing already exists, but below the radar — we just don’t have nearly enough money to be told about it? I heard Russian oligarchs are having stem cell injections as we speak that REALLY take the years off. Yeltsin is partying like a 40-year-old with a functioning liver! When it’s finally time for him to go, I bet there’s already a Death Island waiting for him, one to which we wouldn’t be invited. In fact, it’s probably on Cuba. The TRUTH about Castro.

  5. Scott Godfrey says:

    Dave,

    You make a really good (if not X-Filish) point. If you haven’t read Netocracy by Bard & Soaerqvist I must insist that you Half.com that shit right now.

  6. Pete says:

    First off, the old folks would appreciate the temperature in Fahrenheit…having to convert from Celsius is only liable to make the cancer grow faster.

    My second thought was kind of along Dave’s, though maybe not such a paradise, but couldn’t something like this fly under the radar in Colordado City, where the polygamists live? They seem to get along pretty well down there without much interference. You have the sun, sand, maybe no surf, but hey, you don’t need the pesky airplane travel either…

    Crud, now I’m thinking I might like to invest myself…

  7. Tim Wager says:

    Hey Scott,

    As I believe I said when I first heard this idea (right after I said how brilliant it is), I think this would be even more profitable as a television series. Let’s put it into the development pipeline! I bet Ricardo Montalban would be available. Too bad Herve Villechaize is gone.

    yrs,

    T

  8. Pablo McGarrity says:

    Ohmigod, Ricardo Montalban must be 100 years old, and mere minutes away from his own visit to death island. Unless he got hold of some of that Russian stem cell elixir.

  9. Scott Godfrey says:

    Pete (if that’s your real name),
    I think you’re underestimating the ability of older people to travel well. Remember we’re talking about relatively wealthy seniors who would’ve probably traveled abroad already. I don’t think D.I. would appeal to terminally ill trailer-trash (pardon the slur). They might be too busy appealing to Jesus to check out online airfares. Creative differences asside, Pete, I like your style. Perhaps I should be approaching this in a more egalitarian way. Perhaps we could develope a more middle-America friendly D.I. Sort of like Disneyland minus the safety restraints on the rides; just fling our clients off into space.

    As per Dave and your thought that D.I. may already exist somewhere (probably not in CO), but in the spirit of “all songs have already been written,” them’s the breaks. Certainly Ray Kroc didn’t invent the hamburger. The important thing to remember is that the company he founded went on to achieve great heights. Where would we be without the McNugget, the McDLT, or the piece de resistance, the McRib? Think of D.I. as a brand, the Golden Arches of euthanasia.

    Wager,
    We’ll talk.

  10. Jeremy Zitter says:

    I love how you came back from St. Martin–all tanned and well-vacationed (if not quite well-rested)–with this brilliant idea… perhaps you never wanted to leave your little island paradise… ?