[From the vault]
Recent events have prompted me to ‘get my affairs in order’, which is something of a shock to my wife who wasn’t aware I was having affairs, disorderly or otherwise. I’ve rewritten my will, with its careful dispensation of my worldly goods. (“I leave my collection of bent paper clips to the American Society for the Preservation of Paper Binderies (ASPPB). In the event the ASPPB is unable to accept this magnanimous gift, then I instruct that the collection be sold in auction and the proceeds be given to the Fallen Women’s Convocation.”) With all that ironed out, it only remains to give a detailed description of my wishes for my final arrangements.
I prefer cremation to burial. This is based on my graduate school experiences when I couldn’t afford to repair my car and walked to my office on a daily basis for two years. My path took me through a stately hillside cemetery which would have been peaceful and restful, except for the constant vandalism of the monuments. The cemetery abutted a row of fraternity houses and the drunken fools continuously disgraced themselves by knocking down the headstones, dumping trash, or otherwise disturbing the peaceful slumber of the residents of the grand hillside. I swore repeatedly that I would never give the frat brats a chance to come after me. Therefore, I instruct that my body be cremated and the remains be mixed in a keg of beer to be donated to the nearest fraternity house.
I’ve never been a big believer in God, which is not as bad as it sounds since he doesn’t seem to think much of me either. Therefore I prefer a secular memorial service after the disposal of my remains.
While my friends and relatives are filing in, I ask that Barber’s “Adagio for Strings” be played as it has long been one of my favorites and seems a natural allegory for life. (In the events there aren’t enough friends or relatives present to form a file, I instruct that persons, or person, in attendance exit from a back door and come back in the front door to give the illusion of a large crowd. That’s an old Confederate trick used to mislead the Yanks.) Barber’s “Adagio for Strings” should then be followed by “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.” Other suggested music includes Jim Croce selections (“Age”, “King’s Song”, and “Roller Derby Queen”) along with the quintessential Dr. Demento classic “Roly Poly Fish Heads (Eat them up, Yum)”.
In addition, I instruct a large screen television be provided to show the ‘Moriarty Vamp’ from the musical “Cats.” (Who the hell described this as a family musical?) After the service is completed, the movie “Rosencratz and Guildenstern are Dead” is to be shown. A buffet of baked beans, peanut butter, and iced IBC root beer will be provided.
By now, you may have divined that I prefer a somewhat unusual approach to my memorial. You are correct. I’ve always felt life was somewhat ridiculous and would like to share some of this as my final gift before heading on to that frat bash awaiting me. In my view, life is a sexually-transmitted fatal disease. (Take as long as necessary to think that one through.) With that in mind, I instruct that banana cream pies be thrown in the face of anyone caught crying. With luck, a classic pie fight will break out but I seriously doubt there will be many tears. Too bad. I further instruct that men not be allowed into the service if they are wearing a neck tie. Women must wear their hair in a pony tail set high on their head so it prances as they walk. (A longstanding personal favorite of mine.) Children, rug rats, yard apes, and other delinquents are strictly prohibited from attending. Dogs are welcome. Cats may attend if accompanied by an elephant.
The service itself will consist of an opportunity for all my friends to stand and recall a pleasant memory of time shared with me. Since I am basically an asshole, I realize there might be an awkward silence at this point. Therefore, I am providing material that can be read in lieu of heartfelt elegies. Recognizing that not everyone will be willing to read from my eclectic selections, I offer a special incentive. I direct that poster-size photos of me be displayed and black markers provided. Each person, after speaking or reading from my selections, is then allowed to adorn my pictures with mustaches, oversized glasses, horns, witty mottoes, moles, warts, hairs, naughty bits, or any other graffiti deemed appropriate.
The material I provide for reading includes my writings (all three pages of it), the Yellow Pages phone book, and the following poems: Emily Dickinson (“We never know when we go”, “Pain has an element of blank”, “It’s such a little thing to weep”, “To fight aloud is brave”), Robert Frost (“The Road Not Taken”, “The Secret Sits”), and Langston Hughes (“Wake”, “Advice”, “Final Curve”, “As Befits a Man”). I’ve always enjoyed jokes, including my life, and encourage mourners to share their favorites. Be sure to include my favorite knock-knock joke “You start…” and the one about the Marine that ends “It’s not mine, Sir. It belongs to the man behind me!”
At the end of the service, false noses and other disguises are to be distributed so no one will have to admit they wasted time on me.
I’ll say goodbye now, in the event you fail to notice my absence.