We all get older. Just take a look at some of last week's columns -- Surprising Upsides to Getting Married, Words that Take on New Meanings When You Get Older, Advice That Doesn't Make Sense Until It's Too Late -- it's even happening to us: The idiot man-children of the internet. Aging is The Terminator: It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.
But who said mortality had to be so goddamn boring?
This is mind-numbing. Do a flip or something. Dang.
Most funeral services are morbid, somber, serene affairs that are directly at odds with most human beings, who are ridiculous, flailing jesters, pratfalling their way through life. Sure, there are Irish Wakes and Jazz Funerals, but even these have an air of respect and solemnity about them. What if you were never respectful or solemn at any point in your entire life? I say it's time to put the "fun" back in 'funeral' and the 'felony' back in "the cemetery."
What's that? There's no "felony" in "the cemetery"?
Well not yet, silly, we're only just getting started!
#5. The Procession
Why do we put our corpses in hearses? Do the dead need the leg room? Is there some implied dignity to sleeping in a station wagon? That's certainly news to all the recently divorced step-fathers waking up in Wal-mart parking lots across America right now. Besides, as a semi-professional burnout who only vaguely understands the concept of rent, I've spent more time in the backseat of a Taurus than a gay Virgo. Suddenly it's too good for me in death?
Don't heap the dignity on me in death that I never possessed in life; if you're going to do anything, pile all the awesome on me in death that I was too fiscally irresponsible to afford when I was still sucking breath. If I need a special car to commute to the pile of dirt you're going to throw my corpse in, then I ask that you huck it in the backseat of a '68 Charger, not the shameful bastard offspring of a Caddy and a Vanagon.
The funeral procession can stay, though. Just know that every member of it is obliged to haul ass the entire time. No twenty mile an hour pileup that ruins traffic for everybody else, please. I hated getting stuck behind those while I was living, I certainly don't want to be the cause of them now that I'm not. The last thing I want is an obnoxious 20 year-old cursing my desiccated husk for making them late to their job at Pizza Hut again. I can't have that bad mojo following me onto the Bridge of Judgment (I'm gonna have a hard enough time dive-tackling the Crone of the Scales to break into heaven in the first place; I can't be tripping over no pizza boy juju while I'm doing it.)
No, for my funeral procession, every single attendee should struggle to keep up as my trained stunt-driver drifts around corners, handbrake turns down jackknifes, and occasionally ramps conveniently placed ramp-trucks (note: please conveniently place ramp trucks around the procession route before it starts).
Do you want phonies at your funeral? Hell no! People should earn the right to mourn you, and what says "I really cared about your life" more profoundly than having to win the car chase from Bullitt just to attend the last party you throw?
#4. The Epitaph
Most epitaphs proclaim nothing more than a series of generic nouns about the person interred: Father, brother, loyal subscriber to Newsweek. Mother, wife, beloved bake sale enthusiast. Son, friend, and accomplished Pokemaster. I can think of nothing more insulting and lazy than just slapping up a game of mundane madlibs on the eternal resting place of something as fascinating, complicated, beautiful and disastrous as a human being.
"Bill Lumberg. Typing. 69. We done here?"
You should all be picking the words you want engraved on your tombstone right now, before it's too late. If you're struggling, I find you can assemble a variety of badass odes to your own delusional greatness with phrases like "friend to tigers," "laser battle," "fistgod" or the always applicable "fuckmaster." I've obviously given this a lot of thought, and I feel the words that most define my life philosophy would have to be the opening monologue from the A-Team. But, y'know, inscribe that shit in Latin, so as to appear all dignified and mysterious, like so:
"Est sutharos ef militantae, est mithos en A-Team ..."
Only please substitute all of those words with actual, real Latin, as the phrase above is pure gibberish.
Oh, and for the love of God, pick a decent font. I'm not spending eternity rotting beneath some Times New Roman, you sons of bitches. At least spring for some Cambria or, if that's not in the budget, a nice Verdana.
#3. The Ceremony
Listen, whoever's legally or morally responsible for fulfilling my last wishes: I know I've made some enemies in my time, but I've also made some really great friends...who have probably turned into enemies by now.
Just playing the odds.
So while I'm hoping that a few acquaintances are still dwelling in what I call the "temperate zone" -- that phase in our friendship where you still find my drunken car accidents charming, but not yet into your living room -- you might have to hire some hobos to come attend me and flesh out the crowd. That's fine. I understand budget constraints. But for Christ's sake: Black tie. This isn't a fucking tractor pull, fellas. Have some god damned class.
Just make sure they bring their formal hobo-staves.
Now, on to the reception. You're going to need a lot of alcohol there, both to keep that notoriously skittish hobo attention span, and to properly pay homage to the man that I was: Let's face it, we all know I could only stand to be around people while heavily drinking. The last time I had fun in a large crowd without alcohol was when I was driving my car through Nordstrom.
Oh no wait, hahaha, I was drunk off my ass that time!
Regardless, if you know how I loved the drink, then you also know how I loved the not working. Therefore, while you'll be kicking off the reception with a few fine bottles of Redbreast, you'll ultimately be finishing the evening with some Night Train. I only tell you this so you can come prepared: An evening that ends on the Night Train usually means a morning that starts in a strange and foreign city, possibly with a set of new aliases and only a mysterious mustache to speak of the sheer volume of time lost. To escape, you will need a phone card, a change of pants, an English-to-Portuguese dictionary, a lighter, some lighter fluid and a few man-sized belts of chutzpah.
"The Night Train only sells one-way tickets to Throw-Up-On-an-IHOP-Waitress-Ville, son."
Finally, the music: I was not a classy man, and as such, I do not want classical music at my service. While I do enjoy the sheer drama of the opera, I find their subject matter seriously wanting of cowboys. You should absolutely employ a stunning, noble, pale-skinned aging opera singer for the ceremony, but I request that she abstain from Ave Maria, and instead sing Bon Jovi's Wanted Dead or Alive. Some of you, probably mostly the hobos, will be sobbing unmanfully when her pure, unwavering soprano rings out "I'm a cowboy, on a steel horse I ride" just as they lower my coffin into the cold, unrelenting earth. This is acceptable. Let the tears flow.
For truly, I was a great man. One you wish could be among the living again, even as you know and accept that the mortal python must coil around us all and crush us with its thick, scaly body. Still, though I am gone from this life, you would not trade those memories for anything. I was, in short, a man you wanted (waaannteeeeed) dead or alive.