7/28/08: The Five Rules of Pseudocide

Dear Dick Wolf:

I learned something today: Faking your own death is called pseudocide. You probably knew this. I don’t have every Law & Order episode committed to memory, but I’m sure the subject matter has come up a time or two.

Anyway, a British man and his wife, John and Anne Darwin, were each sentenced last week to more than six years in prison for faking his death in 2002 (a canoeing accident) so they could collect around $400,000 in insurance payouts. You may have read about him in the news last December, when he walked into a London police station and turned himself in, telling authorities, “{Errr} I think I might be a missing person {derp}.” In fact, you may have already ripped his story from the headlines and I didn’t catch the episode. Stop me if that’s the case…

No? OK good.

Well, Mr. Darwin claimed to have no recollection of the five years he’d been missing-slash-dead. BIG FAT LIE! He’d actually been living at home with his wife for the majority of the time (although he did manage to score a girlfriend on the side). His scheme was going pretty well – his own sons didn’t even know he was alive. But police became suspicious last year after one of his wife’s colleagues overheard a phone conversation between the two of them and reported it. Shortly after that, Mr. Darwin miraculously returned from the dead. Then, just a few days later, a photo of him and his wife surfaced that had been taken a year earlier in Panama. Some curious soul had typed the words “John” “Anne” and “Panama” into Google images – and this came up:

It had been posted on a “Move To Panama” website. The company was helping them relocate permanently…and they posed for a picture. The dead man and his accomplice wife POSED FOR A PICTURE.

Oh boy.

Obviously, it’s a little too late for the Darwins. However, for those contemplating faking their own death, I’ve come up with a few guidelines. Please feel free to pass these along to anyone you think may need them.

Thank you. Amen.

The Five Rules of Pseudocide

#1: If you plan on moving to a foreign country after you “die” – DO NOT enlist the help of a company. Especially one that likes to take pictures of their clients to post on their website. If you don’t know how to relocate on your own, do not try to fake your own death. You are not smart enough to pull this off.

#2: If someone close to you has committed pseudocide and you’re an accomplice, DO NOT have phone conversations with him or her while you’re at work. Those cubicle dividers are not soundproof. In general, you should avoid having phone conversations with “the dead” in the presence of anyone you know. Unless that person is M. Night Shyamalan, Shirley MacLaine or Art Bell. They are the only ones who won’t report you.

#3: If your spouse is your accomplice in your pseudocide, DO NOT have an affair from beyond the grave. If your spouse finds out, you’re screwed. Period. Especially if your spouse is female. You know that “Hell hath no fury” thing? Totally true. She will take you down, even if it means going down with you.

#4: If you commit pseudocide and you don’t tell your kids, DO NOT expect them to laugh it off if they learn the truth. You are not a master prankster, you are an asshole.

And finally…

#5: If you’ve successfully committed pseudocide, there are no “take backs.” DO NOT try to return from the dead by claiming you’re the victim of a dissociative fugue, amnesia or any similar disorder. Especially if anyone close to you has profited highly from your death. You will be grilled by shrinks, authorities, friends, family members, neighbors, coworkers and probably the mailman. You WILL crack. And when you do, you will wind up in prison, damning your own resurrection.

Don’t let what happened to the Darwins happen to you.

Published in: on July 28, 2008 at 10:39 pm  Comments (4)  
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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Rule #5 is very important! I once tried pseudocide to get out of an English final in college. On the morning of the final, I called my friends with the news of my sudden demise pretending to be a hospital “administrator.” It worked up to a point…

    That same day, all my roommates and friends threw a wake in my honor at Thirsty’s. I couldn’t resist showing up! I tried the “I think I have been in a coma/amnesia” thing. No go. It cost me a fortune to buy everyone drinks the rest of the night.

    And I had to re-take English in the fall.

  2. I don’t know if that’s genius or colossally stupid. Either way, I probably would have dated you in college.

  3. I love you. You’re brilliant. This is super helpful information. Perhaps someday you might consider expanding this theory to include pseudocide of fake onscreen personas that people create to harrass others and then “kill off” in tragic accidents to further torture and humiliate people.

    No? Huh. Yeah, not so funny when it’s all written out like that.

    And PS: I totally thought “The Darwins” was a fictional name, ala the book, “The Darwin Awards.”

  4. HA! How ironic is that?! Or – is it a coincidence? I still have trouble with that.

    YOU RULE. And I totally chuckled at your idea. Or rather, the comment regarding the idea. Classic. I love you back.


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