Things Worse Than My Breakup

Because things could be much worse
Light and dark, day and night, not being at Top Cafe and being at Top Cafe. Pearls too chewy. Tea delightful.

Light and dark, day and night, not being at Top Cafe and being at Top Cafe. Pearls too chewy. Tea delightful.

The tea does what it needs to do. It’s the cheapest thing on the menu. 

The tea does what it needs to do. It’s the cheapest thing on the menu. 

The Sinking of the Andrea Doria

Though I know that my heart will go on, I can’t compare my breakup to the sinking of the Titanic. 1,514 men, women and children perished in an event clearly worse than my breakup. However, the sinking of the Andrea Doria killed 46 people, a scale much closer in unfortunateness to that of my breakup. In an imminent update, we find out exactly why it’s worse than my breakup 

The Assassination of James A. Garfield

On July 2, 1881, Charles Guiteau shot President James A. Garfield in Washington D.C. Clinging onto life for eleven weeks, the president (and the nation) suffered greatly following the shooting, an event probably worse than my breakup. 

Much like my breakup, the initial confrontation was not fatal. Historians now believe that ineffective 19th century medical care was what really killed the president. Doctors at the time probed his bullet wound with unsterilized instruments and unwashed hands. Not only did such care lead to a streptococcus infection and sepsis; doctors also punctured Garfield’s liver. Unlike Garfield’s wound, mine is purely emotional. Because of this, it cannot become fatally infected and doesn’t expose my liver to sharp things. 

While in my mopey state my appetite has decreased, at least I’m still able to eat, unlike President Garfield. Lacking the ability to digest, Garfield was given nutrient enemas by his doctors. I’m glad that food still goes the right way through my intestinal tract

But some good came from the assassination. Following Garfield’s death, public support swelled for civil service reform. Garfield’s assassin, Guiteau, became disgruntled after failing to obtain a government position, possibly because of the rampant corruption and nepotism in the government hiring process at the time. Also, I would imagine it’s difficult to find employment when one is completely insane. Nevertheless, in 1883, congress passed the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act, which required that government jobs be awarded based on merit. If the country can became a more efficient and fair place because of Garfield’s assassination, I can become a better person because of this breakup.  

Cats: The Musical

I’m not a big fan of cats: the animal, but I don’t hate them. Real cats are not worse than my breakup. Yet “Cats: The Musical” is much worse than my breakup. 

My breakup, while sad, has a beginning (airing of grievances), middle (breaking up) and end (moving on, hopefully). “Cats” has no such structure. It just makes no sense. Frank Rich’s original New York Times Review accurately summarized the plot of the musical: “a deity-cat…announces that one cat will be selected by night’s end to go to cat heaven…and be reborn. Sure enough, the only obvious candidate for redemption is chosen at the climax, and while the audience goes wild when the lucky winner finally ascends, it’s because of Mr. Napier’s dazzling ‘Close Encounters’ spaceship.” My 4-year-old cousin makes up stories that are more coherent than the plot of “Cats.” 

You’d think that whoever came up with the source material was an idiot, but no! It’s based on the poems of T.S. Eliot. Then again, his “Old’s Possum’s Book of Magic Cats,” is just a collection of poems without a unified plot. If you’re going to make an entire theatrical work out of one of T.S. Eliot’s vaguely structured works, why not go for “The Waste Land?”—a work much more reflective of my breakup. At least you wouldn’t have three hours of prancing, which is always an improvement. 

Finally, while my breakup has a imminent end—me getting over my overwrought emotions and moving on—”Cats” will not die. The original production ran for 21 years and it’s still touring, ruining people’s evenings for years to come. 


Death, fever, oral erosions and diarrhea. These are but some of the symptoms of rinderpest, a bovine virus that might be worse than my breakup. Affecting cows and some even-toed ungulates—buffalo, deer, giraffes, warthogs (poor Pumba)—Rinderpest means cattle-plague in German. 

First symptoms of the disease include fever, loss of appetite, and nasal and eye discharge. Because of the breakup, I have three of these four symptoms when I become a sniveling mess. I best watch out. Death strikes 6-12 days after the initial symptoms, so I do have some time. Then again, I am not a cow or even-toed ungulate, though I do have an even number of toes. 

One of the first recorded instances of rinderpest may be found in Exodus as one of the ten plagues of Egypt. More than ten things are currently bothering me, but at least they aren’t bothering an entire civilization. 

Outbreaks of rinderpest often occurred in times of war when normally well tended cattle were neglected or released from isolated pastures by marauding armies. Though I do feel like I’ve been through a battle, I think I have things together enough to prevent my cattle from contracting a virus, if I kept cows. 

Widespread eradication campaigns were mounted in the 20th century thanks to new inoculation and vaccination techniques. Thus, by 2011, the UN declared the disease eradicated. If an entire plague can be eradicated in under a century, I can probably get over this breakup in slightly less time. 

The Donner Party

Described by historians as one of “the most spectacular tragedies in Californian history,” the horrific events of 1846-47 are almost certainly worse than my breakup.

These pioneers took an untested shortcut off the Oregon Trail, right into the Great Salt Lake Desert. Their ladened wagons somehow made it sluggishly through the salt-crusted, marshy soil. With enough water to last a much shorter journey, the dehydrated pioneers began hallucinating, seeing lakes and other travelers in the desert. Mad with thirst, several oxen ran off into the waterless expanse. While my tears are salty and wet, my only mode of transportation has not sunk into them. Also, I have a plethora of liquids to keep me hydrated, alcohol included. 

Greatly delayed, the pioneers somehow made it through the desert without causalities. Embittered by their experience in the desert and several subsequent attacks by Native Americans, tensions rose. In an argument over some tangled oxen, one pioneer whipped another. In retaliation, the man stabbed the whipper in the collarbone, killing him.  I do feel a painful ache in my being and a heavy weight on my back, but nothing has pierced my collarbone. 

The pioneers reached the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Greatly behind schedule, the pioneers found themselves traversing the mountains at the start of a particularly severe winter.  Trapped by the snow, the pioneers saw their food rations dwindle. After several members of the party died from starvation and malnutrition, some had to resort to cannibalism to survive. Though I may feel consumed with grief, at least I have not been consumed. 

Finally, after nearly five months trapped in the mountains, the first of three rescue parties arrived. Forty-eight of the 87 members of the Donner party survived. If they can do it, there is no reason I can’t. And I don’t have to eat anyone.