Before you continue, if you take religion very seriously and don't like jokes about it, stop reading now.
I'm super serial.
I'm not kidding. You'll probably get pissed off.
Well fuck it then. Don't say you weren't advised...
I went to the funeral of an acquaintance the other day. Actually I had to drive my father to the funeral, which is much different than attending these things alone. My normal modus operandi at these things is to sign in, drop off an envelope, walk through to greet the family and express various heartfelt sentiments and deepest sympathies, find the donuts and juice, and exit stage left. Total time spent at uncomfortable event: 8 minutes.
Don’t judge. We all have our own grieving process. Mine is just…faster.
But my father, who actually hates funerals as much as I do, feels a sense of responsibility to stay through the whole service and pay his respects. Please understand that I agree with him if I knew the deceased well or if it was a family member. But he does it just because it’s a funeral, regardless of how well he knew the person. My initial theory was that he had to get dressed up for the damn thing, so he may as well get his money’s worth from the Brut aftershave he broke out for the occasion.
I’m coming to the realization that it’s more than that. As he gets older, he seems more at ease with the concept of death. I suppose that’s natural, but it can get unnerving to talk so casually with a parent about their demise. My Dad is a smart ass to begin with (apple, tree, falling), so he gets his jollies peppering conversations with references to his funeral or preferences as to the preparation of his body:
“These dogs look hungry. When I die, cut me up in to bite size pieces and feed me to the dogs. Then when they shit me out, fertilize that tree I like.”
Or this one:
“It’s really windy. Which reminds me, when I die, burn me and scatter the ashes in to a strong wind that is blowing towards a fancy outdoor restaurant. That way a whole bunch of pretentious assholes will literally bite me.”
The logic is compelling; I’ll give him that.
So, since we are suddenly spending more actual time at these damn things, I have to find ways to amuse myself. There were always the aforementioned donuts and juice to keep a dude busy, but I do have to watch my girlish figure. For a while, I was telling the children that if they got sleepy during the service, the body would reanimate and hop out of the casket to eat their parents. However, the reactions were a little more…dramatic…then I had anticipated, so I stopped.
Next, I tried to get an over/under pool going on how long the Eulogy was going to be; with some side action on how many mentions of Jesus there were. Apparently these people were fairly devout, because I got no takers. It was at this point that I remembered that this was a Mormon function, so I decided to modify the side bet to mentions of Joseph Smith rather than Jesus, which upped the action a little bit. Those Latter Day Saints always favor the home team, anyway, so they took Smith and the points.
Having remembered the LDS connection, I then tried to figure out which of the funeral attendees was a secret polygamist. One bearded guy wearing a hat looked like he was the type to live on a compound with his thirty wives and eighty-seven children. I began to picture a butter churn on the porch, packs of little snot gobblers wearing patent leather shoes running around rolling big metal hoops before stopping to bathe in a creek of some sort. Then they walk to their triple-decker bunk beds where they study by candle light and write their math lessons in coal on the back of a shovel. Finally they extinguish the candles, saying quaint things like, “Goodnight, John Boy.”
Then I realized I watch way too much fucking TV.
I also realized that I was mixing up the Mormons with the Amish again. The Amish think electricity is the Devil incarnate and that mechanical things make you some kind of sinful pussy or something. Mormons, on the other and, have nothing against electricity and modern contraptions. I know this because I have HBO and watch “Big Love” every Sunday. Since it’s on TV, it must be true. The family owns a hardware store, part of an Indian casino, and three very large houses on the same street right next to each other. The lucky husband gets to hop from bed to bed whenever he feels like it, which is awesome because all three of his wives are hot. Life is a fucking paradise, except for the fact that outsiders hate them and look with disdain on the concept of plural marriage.
Well fuck them.
I wish I could get away with that shit. It would fucking ROCK to have three wives who I could choose between depending on the circumstances. Or why choose? SHARING IS CARING, AM I RIGHT? Then I would go down to my Indian Casino to look for wife #4 and gamble, after first stopping at my hardware store to pick up a belt sander or a nail gun, just because I can. So what if 95% of the country disagrees with my lifestyle and thinks I am morally corrupt? Me and the other 5% are hitting it daily, rolling in the dough, and generally giving everyone else a big middle finger while doing it.
Down Side? None whatsofuckingever.
But I was talking about a funeral. There was a lot of talking interspersed with the occasional properly somber musical number, followed by a lot more talking. One of the songs was called “Scatter Sunshine”, which instructs us as to the proper attitude expected by the supernatural Big Guy. Apparently He wants us to:
“Scatter sunshine all along your way,
Cheer and bless and brighten every passing day…”
In retrospect, I can honestly say that I have never actually scattered sunshine. Not ever. Not in any way shape or form. I do not recall an instance where I hopped along, scattering sunshine, and brightening or cheering the day for anyone. If you did that in my neighborhood, you’d wake up naked and chained to a car radiator, wondering why you were wearing lipstick. Suffice it to say, I began to get concerned for my spiritual well being at this point.
A further perusal of the hymnal confirmed my growing fears. One after the other, these hymns encouraged me to treat others with love and caring, faithfully follow the 17 Commandments (I think there were 17. Maybe 20?), shower blessings upon the weak and infirm, and generally run around grinning like a moron with a giant rainbow crammed up my ass.
This didn’t look good.
They also admonished against all the GOOD sins, like Greed, Gluttony, and my personal favorite, Lust. Why not warn me to avoid the really BAD things, like Broccoli, Taxes, The View, and any song by Justin Bieber? That’s the shit that makes the kids crazy these days. No one ever caused a riot rushing the stage to see Sloth and Despair play a twin bill at the Staples Center, have they? But you get a couple thousand pre-pubescent teenage girls in the vicinity of Bieber and you have a shrieking riot on your fucking hands.
I’m not saying that hymns shouldn’t be sung; just that maybe we could use a little more perspective when writing them. Maybe praise me for letting old people cross the street without running them over. Or some encouragement for not farting in line at the supermarket. Or maybe even acknowledging the fact that I have not, as of yet, strangled one of those assholes who cut in front of me in traffic, then slow down to a crawl while talking to some other asshole on the phone, as I seethe behind them looking at that fucking Jesus fish on the back of their car. WWJD? He sure as fuck wouldn’t drive like a lobotomized shit stain, cutting people off and behaving like an asshole. I’d like to think our Lord and Savior would use his blinkers and mirrors, and you should too, dick cheese. That’s in Leviticus somewhere, I think.
So I sat there, becoming increasingly aware that my mortal soul was in peril, and wondering just what I could do about it. I pondered going to church , but that really starts too early and they make you wear pants. Then I figured I would start volunteering at a soup kitchen, but I really can’t stand the smell of homeless people. They smell like sour soup smothered in deep fried onions, so that’s out. Donating to charity? Maybe those Habitat for Humanity projects? Delivering meals to elderly shut-ins? The thought of doing any of these things gave me a screaming headache and a sinking feeling in my gut. People should be doing shit like that for ME, not the other way around.
As all of these thought spun around my head, I heard one of these religious dudes say something that actual managed to get through. Apparently, if you ask for forgiveness for your sins, even right up to the actual SECOND before you die mind you, you get to go to heaven.
Fuck and Yes.
I had no idea that God had such a liberal return policy. This, of course, puts my mind at ease. So unless I am unable to send a quick, mental, “I’m sorry for being an asshole.” to the nearest God-owned cell phone tower, I should be gold.
Well I’m going to go out and get my debauch on. Those hymns say God is always watching. He may want to change the channel for a while, ‘cause this may not be pretty…