Catherine Peng

This Tuesday, Sept. 12, dear reader, is the most important day of the year. It was on this day in 2003 that Johnny Cash flew to heaven on the back of a bald eagle. He is both the greatest singer to ever live (as I established beyond refutation in a Feb. 24 article for the News you probably didn’t read) and the second greatest American (behind only Homer Simpson, who truly embodies our national character unlike any other). That’s right, this coming Tuesday is the 14th anniversary of Johnny Cash’s death, and that means you’ve got a whole weekend to prepare for the inevitable Johnny Cash Death Day celebrations! Regardless of whether you’re like me and mumble the lyrics to “Hurt” while you trudge to Spanish class, here are some tips to help you make the most of this highest holiday.

Rituals are the cornerstone of any holy day. Just as you feign surprise at your shitty gifts on Christmas morning (another BeDazzler, Mom?), you must follow certain traditions on Johnny Cash Death Day. You should, for instance, flush at least one bottle of prescription painkillers down the toilet (technically this is bad for the environment, but don’t let a few hermaphroditic frogs spoil the festivities.) Pick some cotton like young Johnny did, or, if you don’t have any, just cut your fingers over and over again until you can’t touch anything without whimpering.

Take some time in the morning to meditate on what Johnny means to you. Is he just a singer, or is he also a father figure, or even a fantasy lover? If you’re especially lonely and confused, he may be all three. Ponder, too, what Johnny might do were he still living. There’s the obvious things, like winning the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature instead of that glorified sneeze Bob Dylan. But also consider the more subtle possibilities. I maintain that, were Johnny alive today, he would cover Eminem’s “Love the Way You Lie,” with June Carter singing Rihanna’s part.

You absolutely have to wear black all day, and, ideally, every article of clothing should be emblazoned with Johnny Cash’s face (I like to mix and match the eras, with 2000s Johnny Cash over my heart and 1960s Johnny Cash in my pants.) Adele is apparently a Johnny Cash superfan, wearing black even when it isn’t Sept. 12. In reality, Johnny always wore black because it hid stains nicely, but his favorite color was actually mayonnaise. Now, I like to think the black symbolizes the rich, dark Tennessee humus in which Johnny rests. (Note: I really know nothing about Tennessee soil characteristics, so please troll me in the comments section, outraged agricultural soil scientists.)

Of course, the highlight of any Johnny Cash Death Day should be singing as many of Johnny’s songs as possible. There are the standards, like “Ring of Fire” (which an intoxicated Cash supposedly used as a euphemism for female genitalia) and “I Walk the Line” (presumably about cocaine use, given the previous revelation). But don’t be afraid to go for some deep cuts. In 1984, Johnny, perhaps angry with his record label, recorded the charming “Chicken in Black.” It details how he solves a headache by receiving a brain transplant from a dead bank robber (the surgeon who facilitated said transplant being none other than Ben Carson), only to have his former brain then transplanted into a chicken (also by Ben Carson). In the end, the chicken records songs that are still better than anything Florida Georgia Line has ever done.

But there are also some things you should not do on Sept. 12. Do not watch the revoltingly revisionist “Walk the Line.” It is perhaps the worst movie ever made, with the major exception of “Manchester by the Sea,” which you may know by its alternate title, “Casey Affleck Makes a Ginger Boy Cry by Mumbling Incoherently.” “Walk the Line,” in fact, represents the #1 Johnny Cash Death Day faux pas: beatifying a man who readily admitted he was anything but a saint.

Indeed, dear reader, one of the twin purposes of Johnny Cash Death Day is to remember that our beloved Johnny was a mortal like us. He erred: He was a total dick to his first wife, Vivian Liberto; he never fully shirked his drug addiction; and he sometimes forgot the names of his grandchildren. Contrastingly, he was also a devout Christian whom everyone liked despite his flaws (and I do mean everyone, even Nicki Minaj.)

The other point of Johnny Cash Death Day is to understand that despite Johnny having died 14 years ago, he continues to abide by that wonderful cliche which applies equally well to Zayn Malik and George W. Bush ’68 — he lives on through his art. There’s a reason why I have a poster of Johnny Cash on the ceiling in my dorm room. His music has touched me in ways I thought only a woman could. It arouses those ineffable human emotions which approximate infinity. In other words, he makes my tits tingle.

Long column short, Johnny Cash was a badass who fought for social justice, sang killer songs and sweated profusely in concert. Honor him this Tuesday, Sept. 12, by wearing black, listening to his songs and loving your neighbor like he would have. Rest in peace, Johnny, and wait for me.

Josh Baizejoshua.baize@yale.edu