When it comes to impending doom, a sudden “decease and desist” order, or the assumption of room temperature, I have only one fear as a person with no regard for religion. When I croak I reckon I’ll feel exactly the same way I did before I was born, but I’m afraid that other people will be sad for too long.
I have a high enough opinion of myself to believe that when I grab my hat, She Who Must be Obeyed (who will tell the Grim Reaper to go tidy his room) and my children, and perhaps some other surviving family members, might at least be temporarily upset, but it pains me to think that their sadness might not turn quickly to happy memories. That’s the way it should happen if one has had a fulfilling life, which I have.
I hit the half-century mark last August, at which point McCord estimated that my body had outlived my face by at least thirty years. That was pretty good coming from someone who farts dust like an Egyptian mummy. Handlebars and I have a eulogy pact, that the survivor will speak at the deceased’s memorial, with the proviso that he must tell the truth, the whole truth, and only make up bits and pieces here and there. This based on the assumption that anyone shows up.
The truth is that I detest funerals, and I have a nasty mental disorder that manifests itself in the form of uncontrollable laughter when I attend them, the kind that tests the sharpness of She Who Must’s elbows. I have yet to get through one without having a giggling fit. It’s not out of disrespect for the stiff. Rather I think it’s a peculiar sign of affection as I recall a funny moment with the departed.
At Payne Stewart’s memorial I was in stitches at times, lost in my own memories of golf’s Idiot Prince, with tears streaming down my cheeks. Thanks be to Arnold, most people thought I was grief-stricken. (Which of course I was, in my own way.)
So for those who are of like mind, and I suspect there are probably at least a couple dozen of you out there (you sick bastards), here are situations where I think it’s okay to laugh at a planting: First, if you never liked the person, and you are there as an unwilling observer, go ahead and laugh your ass off. Chances are you’re not alone, and at least you’re being honest.
Second, you get a hall pass if the pallbearers drop the f—ing box, period. If you don’t have to suppress an urge to blow a snot-bubble after six burly men in bad suits go ass-over-teapot down a flight of carpeted steps, flinging a dead guy into the aisle, you’re also dead.
Here is a true story: The last will, testament, and practical joke of one of my father’s friends required my dad and the other survivors of their Saturday foursome to pour a bottle of Irish whiskey on, and then scatter his ashes over, the 12th green. True to form, by the time the procession reached the 12th tee, (they had started on 10) the whiskey was gone. After spouting some maudlin drivel, my father shook the ashes out of a Ziploc. Unfortunately, he neglected to allow for the wind, and the poor man blew straight out of bounds and into a cattle field. After a few respectful seconds of stunned silence, they all fell about the place, and an independent witness reported the following exchange:
“Oh god, Billy, we only had two things to do, and we buggered up both of them!”
“No, I think we got the whiskey part right. I’ve just pissed myself.”