Having a bad day? The bakery on the corner gave you the wrong kind of muffin? Was one of your expenses rejected? Did your little sister mouth off to you? Oh poor you. If you’re having that kind of day, it might pay to keep these people in mind. It won’t make the hurt any less, really, but it would certainly distract your thoughts for a bit and get you thinking “I’m glad that didn’t happen to me!”
1. Charlie Parker
The seminal Jazz saxophonist became a huge success at a young age. He enjoyed money, fame, and women, but threw it all away for heroin and just about anything else he could put in his body. At one point the Kansas City native was forced to perform on a cheap plastic saxophone, having sold his in order to buy smack. Parker led such a hard life that by the time he died at age 35, the coroner believed him to be around 60 years old. And he was a fatass. You don’t want to piss off the pallbearers. Not that I know from experience.
2. The Stolen Generations
If you were an aboriginal child in Australia any time between the early 1900s and the 1970s, your life was fairly horrid. You were likely brutally torn from your parents’ arms at a young age, placed into a squalid orphanage, and if you were lucky you weren’t raped. Upon reaching adulthood, you were released back into society; angry, in great emotional pain, and probably a drunkard. I’m sure you feel really bad about missing out on the subway seat in the morning now.
Most people think the Greek philosopher led a great life because of all the respect given to him since his death. This, however, is untrue. To start with, Socrates was incredibly ugly. He was also short. The man fought in three wars, had no job, a wife he didn’t love, and three sons who sound like shiftless layabouts. But Socrates liked to talk, and he like to be annoying. For which he was eventually forced to drink poison. Oh, I’m sorry, are you working a crappy restaurant job?
4. Ryan White
White was a young hemophiliac who contracted HIV through a contaminated blood transfusion. His infection was discovered in 1984 and his school expelled him. While he did gain national attention and help promote understanding of HIV/AIDS, he died at 19 without graduating from high school or ever getting laid. I’m sure that last sounds callous, but how would you feel if you died only ever having kissed your Mom?
5. Joanna the Mad
She ruled Spain, her husband was king, and her son was a Holy Roman Emperor. Imagine living in opulence, but being chained to a patriarchal system where you Father hated the idea that your son from elsewhere would rule. Then end your life imprisoned and unable to come to grips with reality. You never change clothes, bathe, or eat. I’m sorry, are you reading this and late for work?
6. Stephen Hawking
So you’re the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics, a position Newton once held. You’re one of the leading minds of your time, certainly amongst the top three in physics. You’ve made money from books and television, and you even left your wife for your hot nurse. But, you needed a nurse. And you needed her because you’re paralyzed. There’s no doubt you’re respected, but your mind is trapped in a body communicating through a robotic voice you control with your teeth and you can’t fuck the hot nurse. Remember our well-respected and good friend Stephen when you haven’t been laid in a while.
7. Mohammad Jawad
You’re fifteen years old and hanging out in Afghanistan. Things have pretty much already sucked your entire life, what with the Taliban banning dancing (amongst other things). Suddenly your country is invaded and you get picked up by some U.S. servicemen who say you tossed a grenade into their camp. Then you’re sent to a speck of land on the tip of Cuba and tortured for six years. Cuba of all places! You’re now old enough to drink in the U.S. (if you weren’t Muslim), but you probably couldn’t even hold a bottle with those shaking hands of yours. Yes, it’s a damn shame they didn’t put enough sugar in your Dunkin’ Donuts today, sugar.
8. The Ammonites
Hey, the Jordan River Valley is great. It’s some thousands of years BC, there are nice crops, good sunlight, sultry Mediterranean women, and only the occasional cattle raid. That is until a pack of scraggly, bedraggled, smelly desert wanderers come over the dunes and murder you, your family, and everyone you know because their God told them to do so. Just so they can get the land and sunlight. Yes, you just had an awkward moment with that girl you kissed a couple of weeks ago. Beats death.
9. Ferdinand Magellan
He’s got strait and two dwarf galaxies named after him, how is he worse off than you? Well, first he worked for years to get Portugal to send an expedition past South America, through the Pacific Ocean and on to the Spice Islands. They told him he could take a hike. Then he went to Spain and tried the same thing, but they were suspicious. It took them a year or two, but they finally gave in. At which point they were still suspicious because he was Portuguese. So he makes his trip, fights off mutiny and starvation, saves most of his crew across the Pacific, and then is killed in a land he doesn’t know, by someone only known to history because they killed him, and his body was never recovered. Plus he never actually made it around the world.
I ended the list at nine purely to annoy you. Number 10 would’ve been interesting, though…