The Obituary of the Most Interesting Man in the World | Margalit Fox | Conversations With Tyler

The Obituary of the Most Interesting Man in the World | Margalit Fox | Conversations With Tyler


The one obit I wrote, and I’ve written more
than 1,200 for the Times by now. The one that got the most reader traffic of
any, because it happened to hit at a time when Twitter was really taking off, was an
obit I wrote in 2012 for a man named John Fairfax. He was an English man and adventurer. He was like a character out of Ian Fleming,
Graham Greene, and Hemingway all rolled into one. He rowed across the Atlantic single handed
in a row boat by himself, 4,000 miles, and then not to be outdone, he with another person,
rowed across the Pacific 8,000 miles. He was the first oarsman in record of history,
the first single oarsman to cross any ocean. What we say in the obit was that those fetes
turned out to be the least of it. Here’s what we said, “For all its bravura,
Mr. Fairfax’s seafaring almost pales beside his earlier ventures.” Footloose and handsome, he was a flesh-and-blood
character out of Graham Greene with more than a dash of Hemingway, and Ian Fleming shaken
in. At nine, he settled a dispute with a pistol. At 13, he lit out for the Amazon jungle. At 20, he attempted suicide-by-jaguar.” Afterward, he was apprenticed to a pirate
to please his mother who did not take kindly to his being a pirate. He briefly managed a mink farm, one of the
few truly dull entries in his otherwise crackling resume.” Well, readers went nuts for this. They said, “This is the original most interesting
man in the world from the Dos Equis commercials.” This is the most badass obit I’ve ever read,
and as I’ve said elsewhere, when does the adjective badass ever used to modify anything
in the pages of the New York Times?

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