Insert Name Here

9 Dec

I went to one of those things they have in churches after you die. Those things where people show up in suits and ties and nice, black dresses and sit in pews and stand and sit in pews again and read from a well-worn book. It was all so ceremonious and serious. And so silly. Two priests double-teamed the thing. They read verbatim from the book of prayer of something something, and closed their eyes and turned their palms upward when they spoke. The people who had come there, the congregation I think it’s called, were solemn, serious. Some cried. I stood. I sat. I stood again. People repeated some prayer. Or answered back. I didn’t know any of it. It was so silly. No one spoke about the man’s life. Not personally. They took his name and inserted it in the already printed text which was read with much compassion by one of the priests. So much so that it seemed insincere and detached. I passed the time by looking at the priests’ shoes. By looking at the church knave. By wondering what the exterior would be like if it had flying buttresses. By thinking of the Hunchback. No one said anything about this man whose life we were honoring. They put his name into the appropriate spaces. It was so devoid of anything. We are such simpletons. We’ve progressed to nowhere. It was vulgar. I was insulted to be part of it. I knew the man. I laughed with the man. I drank with him. And that afternoon I apologised to him for showing up. I should have been at a bar killing a tall beer. That’s what he would’ve liked from me. Not this. Not me in shirt and tie and camel hair coat standing and looking solemn, hands clasped behind my back while my mind ran to the time we both stood in the rain and he told me about the home he had a stone’s throw from Carl Sandburg’s house, out west, in the mountains of North Carolina. Fuck all this. Later I called my mother who is a sappy, sentimental, God-fearing senior citizen rotting away at the bottom of the world, and she asked me how it was and I told her how stupid these memorials are. How narrow minded we all are for believing in mystical tradition. And how she shouldn’t expect anything from me if she goes before me. She shouldn’t even expect a visit from me. Dust to dust. The world doesn’t stop to hear any of our achievements, mainly because we haven’t any. I loathe melancholy. Old people seem to be full of that. Melancholy, regrets, memories…I told my mother to not expect any of it from me. I spent twenty-two minutes on the telephone going on about it. The stupidity of it all. They take your name and stick it into a blank space. They raise their palms up toward the heavens and mutter some ceremoniously-written excrement that’s been churned over for millenia. This is what you want. At the end, I walked out from front to back and marked all the sad faces, the solemn eyes, the gravitas imparted by furrowed brows. I walked out through the ornate double doors and up the hill toward my car. I got in. It started. And I drove away and into the rush hour traffic.

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3 Responses to “Insert Name Here”

  1. jac 09/12/2009 at 7:58 AM #

    If there’s anything of yours that I’ve seen that struck me like Vonnegut, it was this. Nice combination of reality, humour, sadness and surreal. And so on…

  2. Matt DeBenedictis 09/12/2009 at 11:32 AM #

    Sprawling thoughts. I like.

    Been there. Walked those shoes, had the camel hair.

    For the birds.

  3. Slyboots 09/12/2009 at 8:59 PM #

    Yeah- this one hits far too close to home- things experienced very recently but too polite to put into words. Sigh….

    I didn’t mention on FB- the pastor made the funeral into an anti-abortion rant. About had me out of my seat and shrieking. But someone has self control sometimes…man.

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