Nipsey Has Left The Building

A couple of weeks ago, I learned that Nipsey Russell died. This tragic bit of news hit me hard. I loved Nipsey Russell! He was humorous and clever and self-deprecating, a mainstay on the game show circuit in the 1970s with his funny little (and often risqué) poems. Plus, he was a great comedian and a fine actor. So when I heard of his death I was filled with remorse, and posted a fitting little tribute on my Facebook wall.

The only problem was, Nipsey Russell had actually passed away in 2005.

RIP, Mr. Russell. A legendary comedian, actor, and all around great guy.

Ever since, I’ve been receiving smart-alec wall posts from my friends. They’ve been quick to let me know that Phyllis Diller died (“I wouldn’t want you waking up horrified in five years”) and that George Jefferson had moved on up to that deluxe apartment in the sky (“Instead of you finding out in 7 years, Sherman Helmsley has just died”). Tara’s mom summed it up perfectly when she wrote, “You are never going to live Nipsey down, Mark.”

OK, fine. I may not have realized that Nipsey Russell was dead, but that works both ways. I had no idea that Phyllis Diller was still alive. Wasn’t she, like, 127 years old or something?!

The strangest celebrity death this year was Andy Griffith’s. The guy had been buried for three or four hours before I even learned that he had died. His family had some bizarre wish to bury him six feet under pretty much the instant he kicked the bucket. Me? I’m not so picky about that. In fact, when my time is up, if my family and friends want to throw a pair of sunglasses on me and waltz me around Weekend At Bernies-style, they can go for it. The idea of being used as a prop does not offend me. And if it helps somebody to score with a chick, all the better!

You have my permission in advance to use my dead body in this manner, if you’d like.

I sometimes think about the manner in which I will die. For the record, I don’t ever want to shuffle off this mortal coil, but I suppose it’s as inevitable as…hmm…well, taxes comes to mind. I can’t think of anything else at the moment, but suffice it to say it’s going to happen someday. When it does, could I at least die in spectacularly cool fashion? Let me slip and fall into an erupting volcano or take a bullet for the President or something (but only if he’s a Democrat, otherwise I’ll let the Secret Service handle that), instead of choking on a fish bone in a crowded restaurant. How lame would that be? The thought of just slumping over in my chair terrifies me. Where’s the glory in that?! You know how I want to go when my time’s up? I want to spontaneously combust. How effin’ awesome would that be? It’s unusual and memorable. I’d surely make the national news, going out in style like that. And if I’m going to spontaneously combust, can it happen in a crowded elevator? One minute I’m pressing the button for the 14th floor, the next I’m erupting in flames. For no reason at all. I’m telling you, it doesn’t get any more awesome than that! I’d like to have a captive audience so a cool death like that wouldn’t go unnoticed (ergo, wasted). Sure, my fellow elevator riders might freak out a little while it was happening, but for the rest of their lives they would be the hit of every dinner party or social gathering. People would clamor to hear all about the guy who burned to death in front of them. I think my last words to those horrified onlookers would be, “You’re welcome.”

Dear death,
You suck.

But in happier news, today is a very special day – the anniversary of a momentous occasion in my life. One year ago, Tara came down for a “visit.” And, from an emotional standpoint at least, never left. That was when It all began.

I remember what a nervous wreck I was that day. There’d been a hastily cobbled together “we can’t let anything happen” email offering up the flimsiest of excuses (which I regretted pretty much the instant I hit send) right before she was originally scheduled to come up, but in that delay between her surgery and arrival things between us had changed…and changed again. There was a constant evolution of feelings and emotions, and they all came to a head the instant she knocked on my door.

What followed, of course, was the most genuinely intimate and passionate fourteen hours of my life. One year ago tonight. I can’t stop thinking about that. It always makes me smile.

We went out to dinner at a little hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant down the street I’d always wanted to try. The food was great and the conversation, greater. So tonight, in celebration of The Beginning, we’ll return there for dinner. We did go back once, after she moved in with me, but tonight it’s going to feel extra special.

I can practically taste that margarita already!


Published by Mark Petruska

I'm a professional writer and editor living my best life in south central Wisconsin.

14 thoughts on “Nipsey Has Left The Building

  1. Oh dear god, I am so out of the know because I had no idea that Phyllis Diller died!?!? She was 95 – WOW!

    ” One minute I’m pressing the button for the 14th floor, the next I’m erupting in flames.”

    Mark, you crack me up!

    Me? I want to die very boringly. In my sleep 😦

    Hey, and a big congrats on your one-year anniversary of a momentous occasion in your life! Have a great time tonight!

    Cheers to you and Tara!


  2. If I hadn’t heard about her death, I would have assumed Phyllis Diller was alredy dead, too. And to be totally honest, call me stupid, but I don’t know who this Nipsey guy even is/was. I know. You can stop laughing now! LOL


  3. I was going to razz you, but now I’ll just wish you a happy anniversary! Cheers to you and Tara.

    And RIP Nipsey…or as you were.


  4. Well…I just don’t know what to say…and that’s a good thing! I love this post Mark and it’s because of writing like this that I have been a huge fan of yours. I’m so blessed that I actually get to see you in person, albeit occasionally, but still!

    I always wanted to go out quietly…no fuss, no fanfair, just…nothing! I guess I’m just a wuss when it comes to anything painful and bursting into flames while pushing the 14th floor button on an elevator, well, that would be pretty darn painful. I kept on thinking that maybe you could take some cues from Stephen King and how some of his character’s died. Look at Jack Torrance or Larry Underwood and Ralph Brentner. Although seeing God’s hand would have been totally awesome!

    Anyway….Happy Anniversary to you and my beautiful daughter…I couldn’t be happier for you guys!! *Hugs*


  5. Just getting caught up on some older posts, so you may see a series of comments here. I didn’t realize Nipsey Russell had passed away 5 years ago either. Sometimes people you have liked, but who have sort of faded into the background in their later years slip out of our memories.
    Please remind me to never get on an elevator with you – by spontaneously combusting, the fire will eat up all the oxygen in the car, so the other people in the elevator with you would die also – they would suffocate.


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