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As Grandpa Simpson of The Simpsons will tell you, “Death stalks you at every turn!” And it’s not just through heart disease, cancer, and those other oft-quoted causes. Did you know you could also die by wearing the wrong bra in a lightning storm? Read on for tragic, bizarre, and downright stupid fatal tales.
1) When Good Bras Go Bad
I knew to steer clear of big sheets of metal and barbed-wire fences during a lightning storm, but I didn’t know to avoid my bra, too! It seems odd that one of your instincts should be to unhook and let the girls roam free when lightning strikes, but that’s exactly what two women who died in London should have done. According to the New York Times, they were struck and killed by lightning because of their underwire bras.
2) Sweet but Deadly
We’ve all heard references about strippers suffocating in their huge cakes. According to the book Strange Deaths: More Than 375 Freakish Fatalities, it actually happened. In 1995, a stripper named Gina Lalapola was discovered dead inside a cake that was meant for a bachelor party. I guess the guests figured out something was wrong after they wheeled the fake dessert out and nothing happened. The book states that she was inside the cake for an hour waiting for her big debut. That was one committed performer.
3) Fashion to Die For
Dying as a result of a broken neck is nothing too shocking—unless it’s at the hands of an unruly scarf. Isadora Duncan, an American dancer who fancied long, flowing scarves, met her demise after her scarf—which was wrapped around her neck—got caught in the axles on the wheels of the car she was in. The wheel pulled both she and her scarf out of the car and onto the pavement, where she died. The scarf was later brought in for questioning, but remained uncooperative.
4) Playing Through
If a rat pees on you, what would be your first instinct? If it was “Continue my game of golf without wiping it off,” you might want to rethink your priorities and take David Bailey’s demise to heart. He was a Dublin man who died in 1997 after a rat peed on his leg during a golf game. Rather than cleaning himself, he played through—then his kidneys shut down two weeks later and he died. I don’t know what’s more tragic: the fact that he died as a result of rat pee, or that the world knows that he didn’t shower after being peed on by a filthy rodent. Definitely a contender for the Darwin Awards.
5) Like Something out of a Short Story
Some of the most extraordinary American writers, such as Steinbeck and Fitzgerald, fell victim to wholly ordinary deaths. Not to be outdone, Sherwood Anderson died in a blaze of glory. Well, not really, but he did die in a totally bizarre way. He swallowed a toothpick—like so many of us have almost done at some point in our lives—and died of peritonitis, an inflammation in the abdominal cavity that provides a long and painful death. Just as Mr. Anderson left a permanent mark on the American short story genre, that darn toothpick left a permanent mark on his body. And you thought splinters in your mouth were bad.
6) The Comedy of Tragedy
The next time I complain about a headache, I’m going to think it could always be worse. After all, an eagle could mistake my head for a rock and use it to crack open its dinner. Legend has it that Aeschylus died because an eagle mistook the top of his head for a rock and dropped a tortoise on his bald noggin—a fairly undramatic way for a Greek playwright to die.
7) One of the Worst (and Stinkiest) Ways to Die
Standing near sewer openings is bad enough, particularly on warm days. Imagine what it would be like to spend your last minutes on earth stuck in one? Such was the unfortunate demise of a guy in Wisconsin who tried to retrieve his cell phone out of a storm sewer and got stuck underwater. And, even though this type of death is certainly bizarre, it’s not exactly uncommon. A man in Ontario died in the same way when he tried to fish his wallet out of the sewer, slipped and got stuck in the opening, and drowned. These examples provide a good life lesson: learn to let go of material things … or die.
8) So Fresh and Clean
There’s nothing wrong with keeping up with your personal hygiene, but some people take it way too far, like Jonathan Capewell, a sixteen-year-old from England who was obsessed with smelling good. He doused himself with spray-on deodorant at least twice a day and kept multiple cans in his room. It is believed that his body absorbed too much gas as a result of his copious spraying, which then led to heart failure. Personally, I’d rather suffer with a little BO than smell like a Lysol factory, but I guess that’s the difference between him and me.
9) Ride into the Danger Zone
I have a friend who refuses to ride roller coasters because she is convinced it will break and she’ll plummet from the sky. This man’s unfortunate death goes to show you that you’re not much safer on the ground sometimes. His wife was riding Top Gun, one of the main attractions at Great America, when her hat flew off. Being a good husband, he attempted to retrieve his hat and was rewarded with a swift, accidental kick in the head by one of the Top Gun riders. According to the story, he didn’t know English and therefore couldn’t read the signs warning him about the dangerous area. The woman broke her leg; the man died.
So, what do we come away with after reading about such strange deaths? For one, we learn that death is unavoidable. Your end could come because of old age or by the sharp end of a toothpick, so live life to its fullest and don’t worry so much. However, and I can’t stress this enough—please wash yourself if a rat pees on you. Some things in life can be avoided, after all.