Disneyland, 1995: we enter the park well before opening and, when the barriers are removed, we race the crowds to the new Indiana Jones ride. By the time we get there the line already stretches over what looks like several city blocks.

Twenty feet ahead of us stands a knot of women who appear to be in their late fifties, nice, normal, motherly or young-grandmotherly types. As I watch them chatter happily I notice that one of them has a black leather backpack slung over her shoulder, a surprisingly trendy accessory given her age and appearance. She turns slightly and I can see, scrawled on the bag in white paint: I HATE MYSELF AND WANT TO DIE.

So. Did she borrow this from a teenage girl for her trip to Disneyland, not knowing what was written on it? Did she see this suicidal message and thought it would be a hoot to display it? Was she a big Nirvana fan? Or did she just want to let the world know that she in fact hated herself and wanted to die?