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Monday, April 26, 2010

Flat or Upright?

Last night, I was fortunate enough to enjoy a bowl of noodles and several different animals at a Vietnamese restaurant with my wife and an old friend. During the course of this dinner, we discussed the terribly annoying Tea Party movement, why there is an old-lady-shower-style grab-handle on the bar ("For retards, probably," I mused in that worldly way of mine), how my friend's iPhone charger port got corroded, and whether or not the waiter was going to poison my food and/or try to pick us up.

We all know that someone like me is the kind of person who has precious few friends. That's a given. I mean, if this is how I come off in the blogosphere, where I actually have time to think about and craft my thoughts and ponderings-- you've got to imagine that it's at least 80-95% worse in real-life and real-time, where asinine idiocy constantly tumbles out of my mouth like regurgitated, well, Vietmanese food. The one or two friends that I do have who have consistently stayed by me and whom I have carefully conditioned over the course of many years to expect and sometimes even appreciate my own particular brand of social incompetence know what they're going to get when they spend time with me.

If the friend is female, she will be treated to my eccentric and haphazard way of talking/behaving, the unexpected topic shifts, maybe even a reference or two to her breasts, if I'm feeling especially frisky/moronic. If the friend is male, any topic of conversation is fair game, and whatever we are talking about will be peppered lovingly with homoerotic undertones. If the word "coming" comes up (see?) then just forget it. Homosexual references and comments only increase in the presence of my wife, who has also come (see?!) to expect this behavior.

All this is to say that nobody, not my old friend or my wife, was especially surprised when, as we were enthusiastically exploring our entrees with chopsticks tenuously in hand, I looked at my old, dear friend and said,

"So, when you die, do you want a flat or an upright tombstone?"

My friend and my wife laughed. It wasn't a surprised laugh, however.

Always one to indulge me, my friend considered the question carefully and gave the following answer,

"Well, I've given some thought to green cemeteries. Really, I think, I'd like to be just left in the woods. I know there are laws about that sort of thing. And, I mean, fine, if I have a family, and they want to know where I am to go visit me, then, yes, I understand that-- that need to have a marker of some kind, but I don't think I'd want an upright one."

And then he asked me if I'd ever read a poem with some unpronounceable name. I told myself to remember the title, and he said it twice, but I can't remember it. I can't remember anything anymore. Of course I hadn't read the poem, because I am an uncultured lout. Asking me if I've read pretty much any poem is like asking me if I have ever worn pants after 9:30pm on a Sunday night.

"Well, it's about death and the recognition that it is nothing to fear, and that the fate that awaits us is the same fate as awaits kings and noblemen, and that it equalizes every man."

Why the hell do I need to read poetry? I just need to spend more time with my friends.

I considered what my friend had said. I could have guessed he might say something like this. Even though he was wearing his grandfather's houndstooth blazer, he's really just a big hippie. I can't believe he can stand to be friends with me sometimes.

"Yeah," I said, "I think I'm going to go upright. And if it weren't so fucking expensive, I'd have something really witty carved on the stone-- but that shit is very expensive."

"Right, that's true," he replied. He shoved a stickful of chicken into his mouth and chewed, considering further. "Actually, there have been times where I wanted a stone hand, you know-- a carved hand, with the fingers sort of closing, just coming out of the ground, with the fingers curled as if the hand were going to close. And, you know, in the days and weeks after I die, maybe my relatives will come and stick flowers inside the hand, and, much later, when nobody cares anymore, it'll just be there to scare the shit out of little kids who come to the cemetery to play."

I took a drink of water.

"Right, but what about stoner asshole teenagers who come to the cemetery to drink and fuck off? You just know one of them will take his pants down, on a dare or whatever, and stick his penis into the hand."

"Bring it!" my friend said.

Fuckin' aye, Death, you little faggot.

Bring it.


  1. I think I would like to live in your head for day. Like John Cusack in the movie Being John Malcovich.
    OK. Maybe not a WHOLE day, just a couple of hours, or minutes would do.

  2. Hilarious. I think we'd be real life friends. :)

  3. Hello, friend. You never fail to deliver the uncomfortable Monday-afternoon laughs I'm looking for.

  4. (Take it back, f8! Take it baaaaack!)

  5. Upright.

    I read once that some cemeteries have rules about having upright tombstones because the flatter ones can be mowed over, and therefore are preferred because they're easier to maintain. So I choose upright because I just like to agitate lazy bastards.

    Clean my grave! Clean it!

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  7. I want a flat one. For definite. And if anybody puts tacky shit on my grave I will haunt their ass for eternity.

    I hate tacky shit on graves.


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