The Dead 27 Club, or just 27 Club, refers to a niche American urban legend that there’s something fishy at the intersection of being a musician or artist and being 27 that results in a statistically significant likelihood of death.
It’s obviously nonsense: a handful of musicians from one corner of the world, linked by similar, complicated, high-adrenaline lifestyles and unfettered access to drugs, have coincidentally died at age 27. But when I first learned about this aged 13, there were no debunkers nearby and I became obsessed with it. Especially how quite a number of the deaths had either been suicide — or the result of such reckless self-endangerment as to at the very least imply an ambivalence about staying alive. I wondered and wondered what it was about 27 that tipped things over the edge?
I had already tried and failed to commit suicide the year before and had conceded to biding my time until a merciful accident would take me out. Eventually biding my time turned into actively enjoying myself, but my stance on living as a whole remained: 100% having fun, 100% ok with not being here. Between this, my endless curiosity, and my autistic lack of spidey-sense for danger, I was a magnet for chaos and an extremely frequent crime victim.
At some point, it stuck in my head that while not being an artist in any sense, I certainly had the melancholic temperament, and perhaps I really would die at 27, either by my own hand or in some chaotic accident or other.
I certainly didn’t spend every waking moment thinking about it, but a couple of times over the last year, I’ve idly wondered whether it would happen or not. My life has gotten steadily less chaotic over the years in tandem with becoming less poor, and the even quieter pandemic routine has buffed out almost all remaining opportunities for dramatic accidents.
On the other hand, I was, like everyone else, terribly depressed. Not my first rodeo at all, but no matter how many times it happens, you never really develop an immunity to the extremely convincing argument in your brain for the sweet release of death, you just get good at counterarguments.
I’m excellent at counterarguments, but even as I parried and lunged and some other relevant fencing term, couldn’t help wondering. Maybe auspiciously this really would be the year where I got “tired of climbing all the way out of a pit of anhedonia and apathy for life just slide back in and start again”. But no, actually I don’t think I will. I’ve remembered again how rather satisfying the climb is. Removing another tripping stone and finding another energizing thing to do with oneself etc etc
Anyway, I’m pleased to have turned 28 overall, as blissful as death and cessation of consciousness sounds, it’s also really fun being here. It’s wonderful to get to love and be loved, to get to dance, and sing, and have great conversations, to get to laugh, to get to learn things, to get to see that knowledge manifested in action somehow, to get to leave a mark to get to bask in the happiness of others to get to cry about great art, all the rest of it. It’s all so very nice.
So happy birthday to me.