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Pondering My Mortal Coil Options: Boxed or Broiled

16 Feb

by Roger White

 

I think it finally hit me how old I am this past weekend. Not so much that the wife and I packed it in and went to bed at 8 p.m. on a Saturday night, and not even because we had both spent that whole day doing little more than picnicking in the sun (including a nap)—and were still exhausted before the prime time TV shows got rolling. No, I believe the realization of my impending decrepitude smacked me upside la cabeza when the wife and I began seriously debating burial versus cremation plans. For our own selves, that is.

Friendly Funeral Fellow

Yes, the big decision: the Perpetual Dirt Nap or the Oversized Oven.

It occurred to me as we pondered the possible fates of our earthbound carcasses that I’d never really given it much thought. But I figure since I’m not leasing out this anatomical apartment anymore by the time they put a twist-tie on my big toe they can pretty much do what they want with the ol’ hide. They can boil me down and pour me into so many jars of Nutella, for all I’m going to care. I may not be a top-selling flavor, but hey. It would be somehow comforting to know that I’m living on as a snack spread and that folks from Nantucket to Nacogdoches have jars of me in their pantry.

me as nutella

Anyway, as Sue and I delved deeper into the topic du terminàl, we came to a bit of a snag. A corpse conundrum. A deceased dilemma. A cadaver quand—OK, I’ll stop. Despite my self-professed indifference regarding the destiny of my mortal coil, I found myself leaning toward the traditional tacklebox treatment. I like the idea of me being gussied up, laid out in my Sunday best inside a cozy carton, and having everybody file by my formaldehyde-stuffed face to tell me what a great guy I was. Some may have to stretch the truth a bit, but what will they care? I’m dead.

Now, Sue, on the other hand, prefers the kiln. She sees herself in a nice vase on someone’s mantel, silently scolding a great granddaughter or two to dust the den for heaven’s sake.

Though I can’t envision the eternal me as a pile of cigar ash, the wife may have a point. Not to wax morbid, but have you laid a loved one to rest lately? Your standard funeral—with the rectangular real estate and the coffin and the headstone and the viewing and services and eulogy and graveside wailings and all—costs more than a brand-new jet ski, nicely equipped. I’m talking over $10k, thats all folksmy friends. Although I did notice that Sea-Doos were on sale the other day for a pretty good discount, but you have to join the credit union. Wait, funerals. Right.

Here’s another thing about the whole burial option: If you go that route, have a trusted compadre accompany you to the funeral home—because if you haven’t endured this before, beware, my pallbearing pal. Funeral parlor people are car salesmen incognito. They may speak softly and smile and nod more compassionately than the guys at Big Al’s Auto Emporium, but they are cut from the very same cloth. The things these people will try to sell you—at a time when they know you are at your most vulnerable—would make Great Aunt Eunice roll over in her “value-added” grave. They’ll insist that if you really loved ol’ Eunice you won’t settle for a run-of-the-mill pine box. You’ll of course want the Cadillac of coffins, lovingly handcrafted from the finest mahogany and appointed with cashmere pillows, tuck-and-roll upholstery, the sincerity-package extra legroom, ivory handles, and whitewalls. Get this, they’ll even tell you that you need to line the coffin with a protective seal that will keep your dearly departed from moisture, rot, or nasty invasive weevils and such. That’s correct, they’ll try to sell you a casket gasket. It’s the height (or depth, I guess) of absurdity. Isn’t the whole point of committing your bod into the ground so that you will be absorbed back into the bosom of Mother Earth?

There’s a host of accessories like this that the smiling mortuary man will gently present to you as a means to show Aunt Eunice how much you truly cared. My advice? Picture yourself at the car salesman’s desk at Big Al’s—that protective seal on your aunt’s casket is nothing more than the rustproof undercoating they want to put on your Buick. Forget it.

tasteful

It’s like Joe Pesci said in Casino just before they played baseball with his noggin—always the dollars, always the dollars. Shee, maybe the wife is onto something. I guess I wouldn’t mind being vacuum-packed into a beer stein perched over the fireplace. As long as I can face the TV.

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a cat with Epstein-Barr. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

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Of Hot Tubs & Casinos — and TV, Of Course

5 Aug

by Roger White

Well, we finally got our dinky little first-generation hot tub working again. Hot dog! And I do mean hot dog. Sitting in a hot tub in August is a bit peculiar. And embarrassing. OK, it’s downright dumb. It’s been over a year since the wheezing old water-swirler showed any signs of life, and I must tell you, if you own a hot tub and you let it go stagnant and broken for, oh, about a year—for God’s sake, DON’T LOOK UNDER THE COVER!

It took five and a half days, but the county folks in hazmat suits got the tub and surrounding area cleaned up quite adequately. Some of the aquatic life the nice gentlemen pulled from the tub they shipped to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts for further study. The whole back yard smelled like old bananas and dead carp all weekend.

Anyway, the fine/jail time from the county was pretty reasonable! I didn’t know they had any ordinances on residential outdoor bathing facility sanitation. We can’t have guests or small children in the tub for six months, and then only after what they call “day-of” inspections. These guys are strict.

Note to self: Next time the hot tub goes on the fritz and you don’t plan on fixing it right away, kindly drain it. Sheesh.

I kid. The county folks didn’t come out in hazmat suits. My wife and I wore the hazmat suits.

Seriously, after all the cash and time and more cash getting the watery money pit working again, the wife and I eyed each other and wondered why we did this in the dead of summer. I suspect this winter we’ll fix our homemade ice cream churn.

But, all in all, last weekend was not bad. On a scale of 1 to 10, I give it a 7 3/8ths, which is pretty darn exemplary in my book. You see, with the wife and girls out shopping, as I lay fallow on the couch praying for anything better than “World’s Most Daring” on TV, there it was, opening credits rolling: Casino.

Oh, yes. Casino. If that’s not one of your top 10 all-time action/gangster/ Vegas movies, then I’m sorry, you are stupid. Don’t get me wrong, I am NOT anti-stupid. Some of my best friends are the stupidest people I’ve ever met. And ugly! Wait a minute. My point was, ooooh, Casino. DeNiro, and Pesci, and Stone, and the dumb cowboy hick columnist who played the dumb cowboy hick slot machine boss. Don Rickles, even! Casino is probably the best movie in the world for movies that say f*#! more than 100 times. I would lay money on that.

This got me thinking. I started pondering what a killer concept it would be to have Casino versions of other shows. Let’s see, for example, “The Dick Van Dyke Show”:

“Oh, Rob!”

“Shut the f*#! up, you capri-pant-wearing muthah…”

Or “Gilligan’s Island”:

“Wait a minute, little buddy. What’s the gun for?”

“What do you mean, what’s the gun for, you fat f*#!. Now I know why you wanted bottom bunk, you mutha….”

“But little buddy—”

“Put the stone-carved bowling ball down, Skipper. I got the gun. You be nice. Don’t f*#! up in here.”

OK, maybe not. But I must say that just when I became utterly convinced that we now live in the most pathetic, tripe-ridden era of “television entertainment” (oxymoron!), my daughters showed me how to get Netflix through our video gaming system. I have absolutely no idea how this works, but it works. Now I can watch “Twilight Zone” or “Alfred Hitchcock Presents”—two of the best shows ever produced—any old time I want. I can even pick the episode! Like the one where Telly Savalas is the mean stepdad, and the new doll his stepdaughter buys tells him she’s going to kill him. Classic. Or the one… oh, never mind.

(The previous paragraph brought to you by Netflix. Writer of the previous paragraph is not a columnist but plays one on TV and has been duly compensated. Previous paragraph was performed on a closed course with professional stunt writers. Do not attempt at home.)

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.