Take your course, use your force Kill me, kill me, if you please; Nay. I'll die willinglyiIn this sweet death, I find such ease.
Anon., Roxburghe Ballads, 1871
I will die bravely like a smug bridegroom.
Shakespeare, King Lear
Most favor the mort douce ("sweet death"), also known as dying in the saddle or with one's boots on. It has claimed many a prominent figure, who found it quite a way to go. When the producers of TV's "Hill Street Blues" had to explain the death of Sergeant Esterhause (1983-84, coinciding with the real death of actor Michael Conrad) they had him die in the arms of his paramour. Others allegedly exiting in this fashion included a former Vice President of the United States and a French Archbishop locked in a conjugal embrace in a house of ill repute. Speaking of his father's death under similar circumstances, comedian Richard Pryor noted how "he came and went at the same time."
However, it also happens under more traditional circumstances. Death has frequently been used as a metaphor to describe the sexual spasm. As Benedick promised Beatrice (in Much Ado About Nothing), "I will live in thy heart, die in thy lap and be buried in thy eyes." But no need to mourn. Samuel Butler reminded us, "O 'tis a happy and heav'nly death when a man dy's above and a woman beneath" ("From Love," mid 17thC).
Never Say Die
Others also consider sex a dying activity. The scientific news magazine, Discover, in a 1984 article entitled, "Why Sex?" discovered that sex is an inefficient way for an organism to reproduce itself. For the first time in recent memory, sex faces tough competition from an alternative lifestyle.
The word is out about "the new celibacy" (from the Latin caelebs, "unmarried," which originally referred to a state of living alone and only later to sexual abstinence and renunciation of marriage), a practice which has recently generated a small but loyal following.
The Catholic Encyclopedia defines celibacy as "the renunciation of marriage ... for the more perfect observance of chastity," which is really the end game here. If you want to do it right, just cut to the chaste (from the Latin casta, "morally pure"). Germaine Greer, who campaigned for female equality and sexual freedom in the 1970s, later came out in favor of chastity, and recent surveys show jogging to be a more popular form of recreation than sex.
Though sex appears to be in a decline, let us not be too hasty in writing it off. Reports of its demise may well be premature. Agreed, it's no longer in the full flush of youth, but neither is it ready for interment. Perhaps it's best we think of it as being in the intensive-care unit. And desperately in need of your support.
But if you can't say it, you can't do it (mid 20thC teenage aphorism). And that could be the death of us all. Now is the time for all good men (and women) to come to the aid of the life force. Isn't it time you also did your part and finally agreed to give a ... FUCK