Thanks to the movie The Big Lebowski, I never want to be cremated. I am convinced I would have equal or worse luck…
Steve Buscemi plays “Donny”, whose ashes are put in a coffee can. John Goodman (Walter) and Jeff Bridges (The Dude) take Donny to a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean where they plan to scatter his remains. After Walter delivers as bad of a eulogy as you could ask for, he removes the coffee can lid. It’s poor timing as a gust of wind blows Donny’s ashes away from the ocean and straight into The Dude’s bearded face.
I could only hope that I might end up in a coffee can. But, no, fate would steer the two warped minds of those handling me in another direction…
“I got an empty container of motor oil we could put him in.”
“Naw. Too difficult. How ’bout a jar of spaghetti sauce I finished last night?”
“Hell, if we wanna make things really easy, then let’s go with a paper sack.”
“Genius! That’s it! A paper sack!”
And off I’d go, stuffed in a paper sack in the back seat of a car—lodged between a bag of dog food and a package of toilet paper.
“Where d’you wanna dump him?”
“I dunno. Where d’you wanna dump him?”
“Well, he did mention the Gulf of Mexico. He always talked ’bout the ocean.”
“Uh, that’s like three hours away. Ain’t driving no paper sack for three hours.”
“But ya would dog food an’ toilet paper?”
“Absolutely. They’re necessities.”
Of course, any chance of my making it even remotely close to the ocean would be slim due to the presence of a third occupant in the car: a black Labrador Retriever named Sniff. While my buddies are in the front, continuing their intellectual conversation fit for an audience of morons, Sniff is in back and getting mighty curious about my body bag. He’s not hungry, so the dog food doesn’t interest him, and neither does the pine-scented toilet paper. But the paper sack…now that’s something to investigate! In no time, he burrows his wet muzzle so deep inside that his nostrils get annoyingly clogged with ashes. Igniting into a psychotic growling fit, he makes the mistake of raising his head to shake the sack free. All of my remains—all that I ever was—come pouring out like an open bag of flour. As the car comes to a screeching halt, Sniff cannons three sneezes. Sneeze #1 propels the sack off of his head. Sneeze #2 fires tiny, moist, snotty ash clods into the rear window that stick like spit wads. And sneeze #3 launches additional clods directly behind the neck of the driver.
“Dammit, Sniff!!” he hollers, looking into the rear view mirror. “Good Lord! All over the toilet paper! Look at you—all covered with death!”
And that’s as close as I’d get to the ocean. The majority of me sharing space with fleas in Sniff’s fur.
“Throw it out!”
“No, you idiot. The sack…throw it out!”
“Seriously? Isn’t that kinda disrespectful?”
“What’s there to respect? There’s ashes all over Sniff and my car!”
“But what about the ocean? He wanted to end up in the deep blue sea.”
“SCREW THE OCEAN!! THROW THE DAMN SACK OUT!! HE CAN ENJOY THE DEEP BLACK ASPHALT!!”
I’m telling you…if I’m ever to be cremated, I guarantee that’s as good as it’ll ever get. But if I do want to end up in the ocean, then how will I ever get there?
I have an idea. Write a letter.
*. *. *
Dear Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines:
Imagine firing multitudes of the dearly departed from a cannon off the rear deck of one of your ships, and making bookoos of money doing so. Enticing, isn’t it!? You may not realize this, but if Royal Caribbean runs with my idea, then it will be at the helm of innovation. It’s time for a better way to pass into the afterlife than we are currently accustomed to. It’s time for a cruise ship named…Funeral of the Seas.
Let me explain…
Funerals aren’t cheap. We dish out thousands of dollars in order to make the dead comfortable (or so we’re led to believe). A fully velvet-lined, solid mahogany or stainless steel casket complete with a cozy, over-sized pillow is sold under the guise that without luxurious bedding, our loved ones will experience nothing but eternal bed sores. The casket has only a few hours of viewing time before it’s forever lowered into the earth to share the dirt with grubs, beetles, worms, ants, and centipedes. Such a beautiful piece of craftsmanship, but never to be seen again (unless a careless city utility worker accidentally digs up a sewer pipe while texting his girlfriend). Whatever happened to burying bodies and nothing more? It was a custom that worked fine for thousands of years. Bury Uncle Joe, then let the good earth decompose and recycle him. And best of all, Uncle Joe’s death didn’t cost but a few nickels.
If we’re going to spend thousands of dollars on our loved one’s funerals, then let’s make it a few thousand, not several thousand. And let’s send them away in a style yet to be experienced in the funeral industry. I’m talking about a massive potato gun. Confused? Oh, not to worry! Let me continue…
I shall use myself as an example. One day I die. Then what?
All to be explained in another conversation, but because I’m convinced that a black lab named Sniff will completely blow any chance of my being cremated with a peaceful and beautiful exit from this life, my only option is a burial, which, as you’ve gathered, I’m not much in favor of either.
Instead of being buried, I want to be released. I want to take a lifeless swan dive off the rear deck of Funeral of the Seas. It may not be the most graceful swan dive, as I’m sure my entry into the water might be a disastrous belly flop, a harrowing back slap, or even a sloppy face plant — all complete with flailing limbs. And just how would I dive from a cruise ship? I would do it not with the parting push from a couple of friends or loved ones, but rather with the soon-to-be patented Corpse Cannon. Basically, as previously mentioned, it’s a larger scale potato gun that generates pneumatic pressure created by compressed gas, and can fire a human body over 500 feet. I mean, seriously, what better way to go!? Sailing into the ocean air with no inhibitions, no errand lists, no car payments, and no more commercials—Heaven.
Of course, once I hit the water, understand there’ll be no need for friends and loved ones to have to witness any type of cruel carnivorous feeding, as I’ll have been thoroughly coated with the soon-to-be patented 3M SharkAway Repellant, and sporting my 40-pound weighted strength training vest. As Funeral of the Seas cruises off into the sunset, how fitting all of this would be as I submerge in the ship’s wake.
Total cost for a cruise ship funeral: $3,000. It’d be an out-and-back one-day trip. Details of large walk-in freezers to store the dearly departed can all be worked out. All Royal Caribbean has to do is schmooze with the rules and regulations departments that oversee the operations of funeral businesses, play a few rounds of golf with the higher-ups, and there won’t be any difficulty getting approval for the soon-to-be and highly sought after Corpse Cannon funerals.
That’s all I have for now. Please feel free to contact me anytime. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to have a little alone time to deal with the aforementioned dog named Sniff who’s living rent-free in my head.
Copyright Ros Hill 2017