“He stopped loving her today, they placed a wreath upon his door, soon they’ll carry him away, he stopped loving her today.” George T. Jones. A classic obituary.
My wife and I are having dinner. Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, spinach and biscuits. The Heinz ketchup bottle sits upside down. What more could any Southern man want?
The 7:00 news is over. Conversation lags. She picks up the newspaper, reads the obituaries. I think it strange. I give it little more than mild curiosity. Who needs chatter with such delicious vittles? …Until she speaks.
Out of the blue she says, “How shall I announce your passing?”
“Passing what? You want me to pass you some more meatloaf?”
“No. I just want something more creative to announce your demise.”
My demise? I stop chewing. The mouthful of meatloaf suddenly becomes mush. She looks at me and smiles. “Obituaries are so dull. Listen, it reads, ‘He died, she passed away, he met his Lord.’ So dreary. How would you like yours to read?”
Strange thoughts flash through my mind. Do you know how easy it’d be to kill someone with meatloaf? Who knows what’s inside of it. Besides, Southern men don’t even chew meatloaf. They’re like dogs. It’s over the lips, across the tongue, lookout tummy, here it come. Teeth are useless.
Meatloaves are so large they can disguise all sorts of deadly toxins or lethal devices. Meatloaf is never served in prison for this reason. Baked inside might be nails, tacks, needles, nuts and bolts, roaches, dirt, glass shards, anything, even fertilizer. I suddenly feel sick.
I try to shake it off. “Haven’t thought much about it. Why do you ask?” She rolls her eyes. I notice she’s only eating potatoes and spinach.
“Oh, just wondering. These announcements have no life.”
” Life? These folks are dead,” I say.
“They’re so somber. Who’d want to attend a funeral for someone who had simply ‘passed?’ Nobody. When you go, I want it to be a big event. It’s gonna be hard enough as it is to find pallbearers.”
She says, “Let’s concoct some good ones for you. It’ll be too late to think about it when you’re gone. I might be playing bridge! Or it might interfere with Downton Abbey.”
“Look, I’m feeling great. I don’t wanna think about dying. Why are you in such a rush? Why aren’t you eating your meatloaf?”
“Lost my appetite. I see you’re not finishing yours either. Eat up,” she says.
I suddenly feel ill. Maybe I should not have had the third helping. Men are gluttonous.
She continues. “Time is short. You’re a hack. Embellish yourself for the final day. It’s coming. Make up some creative opening lines for your send-off. I have some suggestions.”
She asks, “How about, ‘He changed addresses?’ Or maybe, ‘Left us in a rush?’ Since you’re in the real estate business, how about, ‘His loan came due,’ or maybe, ‘He was into dirt, still is’”?
My death is not a laughing matter. It demands more respect than this. Then I remember Marvin, a funeral director friend of mine. He once told me about someone’s interment. A large easel with a chalk board stood next to the red-dirt hole. On the coffin was a pink princess phone. The message read, “Jesus called!”
She doesn’t let up. “How about, ‘He lost his lease’, or maybe, ‘Closed his last deal?’” She looks at her watch, then glances at the cold meatloaf left on my plate. My stomach growls.
I remember a lawyer friend. His read, ‘He found no loophole.’ I decide to chime in. Don’t want it to be the last opportunity to glorify myself. I suggest, ‘He defied gravity.’ She shakes her head. I continue, ‘He dropped like a dead fly.’ She ignores it.
She says, “I like, ‘He left us hanging.’” I cringe, thinking it might be the case. I want to say, ‘He had enough.’ But the meatloaf is still in my mouth.
Ron, a preacher friend, once told me he preferred, ‘He was reassigned.’ I don’t want to copy Rodney Dangerfield’s tombstone, ‘There goes the neighborhood.’
“You’re looking pale,” she says. I feel my pulse, opt for the peach cobbler while there’s time. She says, “You deserve it. It’ll probably your last.” What a way to go.
Hard to say which hyperbole she might choose for her own announcement. If I have a say, hers will read, ‘She quit cooking.’
Editor's Note: Visit Bud's blog and enjoy his vast collection of musings at theweaklypost.com. He can also be reached by email at BudHearn@mindspring.com.