What would you say if the devil himself approached you with an offer to make you famous, in return for giving up six years of your life expectancy?
Being polite Canadians, many of us would probably respond initially with, “Why, hello, Mr. Harper.” Followed immediately by: “Where do I sign?”
By tracking obituaries in the New York Times for a couple of years, researchers determined that people in business and military professions died on average at age 83, while actors and pro athletes made their final curtain calls at just 77.2 years. (Of course, the sex, drugs and rock and roll lifestyle makes those similar to dog years, so that’s really about half a millennia. Tack on another 50 years if the celeb had his/her own reality show.)
The study stops short of saying fame is a guarantee of a shorter life, though getting famous by imitating the stunts from Jackass would pretty much clinch it. Nor does it account for the renowned Keith Richards, who has ingested enough substances to wipe out small countries, yet is still alive (at least, we think he is. It’s hard to tell by looking at him.)
And it leaves unanswered one very pertinent question: How many men are now hoping their mother-in-law becomes famous?
Putting those issues aside, the study gives us reason to feel sorry for the likes of George Clooney. Sure, he has movie star looks, more money than he can spend, an entourage that sees to his every whim, and is wanted by every female alive (and more than a few men).
But look at what he’ll be missing if he should check out early: Wars. Taxes. Honey Boo Boo reruns. Incontinence. Uh, our sympathy just turned into envy.
It’s that envy that may motivate the rest of us to seek out Satan, especially if he’s now allowing substitutions on the negotiating menu. Giving up a few years in a deal with the Lord of Darkness (no, not you, Conrad Black) is a lot better than having to part with your soul. It does make us wonder, though, why the devil has shifted his demands. Maybe it’s a reflection on the market for souls — one guy auctioned his on eBay for a lousy 400 bucks. Or maybe it’s because the fame seekers – especially politicians, and any of the Real Housewives – have no souls to barter with.
Whatever the reason, the bottom line is that we can create our own re-imagining of The Picture of Dorian Gray. Think about it: giving up some crappy years in our 80s so that we can have fame now, with all its attendant perks. Even if it’s only the proverbial 15 minutes in the spotlight, what could possibly go wrong? (Oh, hello there, Octomom. Say Hi to Justin Bieber.)
All you need is the devil’s cell number. We’ll get you started: the area code is 666. Long-distance charges may apply.