Funeral Of The Seas

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!”

“The dog?”

“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.”


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.

Bon voyage,

Ros Hill


Copyright Ros Hill 2017


A Simple Proposition

I have a simple proposition. A way to make everyone happy. I am suggesting that we do away with life as we know it on land (I don’t mean life, literally, but rather our way of life). All that’s needed are the oceans, and cruise ships—lots and lots of cruise ships.

If you have not traveled on a cruise ship, and have made up your mind that they are impossibly fun or relaxing, may I please ask you to set aside your inhibitions and try one out. If you can’t manage the time to sneak away, then at least take it upon yourself to visit any of the ports and witness the sorrowful sight of the pitiful mass exodus of depressed souls who are disembarking their ship. Watch them shuffle along, dragging their baggage like mourning pallbearers laboriously handling the weight of their long lost companion. A companion whose life ended all too abruptly, and was never allowed enough time to be given a deserving farewell.

People do not want to leave cruise ships. They DO NOT want to leave them.

Three-quarters of the Earth’s surface is covered by water. Think of the pros: no roadway infrastructure, no stop lights, no waiting on trains, no delayed air flights, no weed eaters, no flat tires, and no mad dashes to Home Depot for flash lights, AA batteries, and a gas powered, 150-pound generator because an impending ice storm is blowing into town.

Cruise ships can accommodate our terrestrial way of life. Think professional sports will be no more? No problem! As big as the ships are these days, all you’ll have to do is weld four or five of them together, throw in some turf and voila!—Soldier Stadium. Schools and Universities? That’ll be eight ships and couple hundred welders please.

The cons can be easily negated. Hurricanes? Ships go around them. Motion sickness? Stick a Transderm Scop Patch behind your ear and you’ll be jumping rope on the ship’s bow in no time! Ship full of folks you don’t care for? Corrupt politicians, greedy lawyers, or obnoxious in-laws can all be thrown overboard. “You grab the hands, I’ll grab the feet!…One, two, three!!…”

I’m getting way ahead of myself. Let’s back up to simpler things like food (specifically cheesecake) that dictate why life should evolve on cruise ships.

People travel on the ships to eat. To eat whatever they want, whenever they want. Whether it’s ice cream at 6:12am, 10:39am, 4:42pm, or 11:59pm, it is readily available. Fresh seafood, roasted garlic potatoes, twenty different salads, and cheesecake are all waiting for you. Strawberry cheesecake, raspberry cheesecake, quadruple chocolate chunk cheesecake, and on-and-on cheesecake. When you eat it, your eyes close softly, and your head sways back and forth playfully as if weighing merely an ounce, like the pure enjoyment of a child floating back and forth on a tree swing caught in a lazy warm autumn breeze. Every molecule of flavor is savored as that first bite rests in your mouth. The bites that follow get progressively tastier as it becomes crystal clear that you are not only far from your troubles on land, but you are floating on one hundred and ten thousand tons of pampering iron steel. So oddly lovable and soothing is the massive sea hulk, that every waking moment is one in which you nearly have to pinch yourself to make sure this isn’t a fairy tale. And if you should fall asleep while eating cheesecake on a cozy ocean-view lounge chair, there’s a good chance it will slide off your lap. But you are not to worry. Within minutes, one of the crew members will clean the spill, upright you, then set on your lap a fresh, new slice. You will wake up not having skipped a beat.

The cheesecake argument makes for only part of an irrefutable case for moving life onto cruise ships. Here are some other issues taken care of:

Understand that dealing with the undesirables (thieves, crooks, and people who sit behind you with air horns at sporting events) is an easy fix as they will remain on land, right smack dab in the middle of Kansas. (I realize all Kansas residents won’t take this idea very lightly, but once they’ve boarded the ship and have their toes dangling in a top deck swimming pool while watching the Minions on the outdoor jumbo screen, the ship, not Kansas, will be no place like home.)

Your jobs will also be taken care of. If you’re a doctor, there’s plenty of sprained ankles coming your way from the sport courts, as well as shuffle board tendinitis. If you work in retail, you will be sitting pretty as cruise passengers normally buy a souvenir once every nine minutes. You say you’re worried because you were a machinist. Relax. Do you realize how much work it takes to maintain a ship’s propeller? Job security is merely a creative light bulb away.

But truly the ultimate reason why we should live on cruise ships: everyone is happy. There are playful activities that bond all walks of life. When was the last time you saw a group of business men (from CEO’s to supervisors) in their swim trunks, huddled together to come up with a synchronized swimming routine—competing for a first place, golden plastic ship trophy? The same guys were also in the free-throw shooting competition up on deck ten. The day before, they were jiggling their bellies at poolside to the hip-hop tunes of M.C.Hammer during the Hairy Chest Competition. Of course, there were those men who weren’t interested in competing. They were either cheering on the competitors or were at the other end of the ship, sprawled out on a chase lounge, deep into a good book or a good sleep. Whatever inhibitions you had on land are gone. Your career or your job title means little on a ship. The person you are is all that matters. Do you hold grudges against other races? Other stereotypes? Other age groups? All that will vanish out at sea, as the immediate sense of community will go into effect once the ship pulls away from the dock. It sounds too good to be true, but it is true, and that’s so good!

The tentacles of goodwill towards your fellow man will also extend out into foreign territories.

There are too many foreign crew members to count, who, by the end of the cruise, will be high-fiving you as if you had known them since Pre-K. You will be so international that the idea of warring countries will be very difficult to comprehend.   Country presidents and international leaders will no longer be necessary, as boundaries and land rights will cease to exist. Your territory vs. my territory will be an impossibility, as everyone will move freely about the ship, coexisting together in cheesecake heaven. Seriously, what are you going to do—hold a group of Italians hostage in one of the restaurants? Hold them with what—a butter knife? A tray? All because you never liked Italians? Oh, what an argument! Look, one hour ago, Mr. Italian guy just passed you the volleyball in the pool so that you could spike the winning shot. Then, to make things better— while having forgotten that your inhibitions were left back at Miami—you hugged the guy. He barely had an accent, which left you clueless about who he was. And now, you want to hold some Italians hostage? Get a grip, or go overboard.

It really all comes down to two options: stay on land and deal with road rage, errands, and an endless list of home improvement chores, or sail away into a hypnotic burnt-orange sunset, and worry about only one thing:

 At what time shall I eat my cheesecake?

Copyright Ros Hill 2016