I WILL DANCE ON YOUR GRAVE

Maybe you should sit down for this.

You see, I came across a story today that I just can’t ignore. Some may find it unpleasant, even shocking.

The headline: China Says, Please Stop Hiring Funeral Strippers.

OMG. Wait, what??! Is that a thing?

Yes. Yes it is.

God, I love China. Squeeeeee!

Without them where would we get children’s toys made of (or painted with) lead? Where would we get poison pet food? Where, I ask you, would we get toothpaste that contains ingredients found in anti-freeze?

No where. That’s where.

Well, maybe Taiwan would step up to the plate.

Here’s the deal. Apparently, in order to attract a good-sized crowd that brings honor to the deceased and to the family of the deceased, there has to be some sort of incentive. I mean really – most funerals are not that entertaining. Unless you attended my father’s – which was a laugh riot. But mostly, funerals are on the dull side. So, in China, especially rural China, people thought it would be good to provide some entertainment. Like opera. So for awhile opera at funerals was all the rage. Then the novelty of that wore off and people started showing movies at their relative’s funeral.  (You know, like “please join us as we celebrate the life of (deceased) and enjoy a screening of “Planes, Trains and Automobiles.”) By the way, if this catches on in the U.S., please play Gone with the Wind at mine.

Well, I guess movie screenings just weren’t drawing the crowds like they’d hoped – so the big idea now is strippers. Imagine it – in the middle of a funeral dirge, a strip tease breaks out. “Nearer my God to Thee” segues into “You Can Keep your Hat On.”

Oh, and sometimes, they bring snakes with them. The strippers,  not the deceased. Because just a plain ole’ stripper isn’t enough of a draw. Frankly, things have gone horribly wrong in a woman’s life if she says to herself, “I could really get on board with a career taking off my clothes and gyrating around a corpse.” Then again, things have gone horribly wrong if you are dead and your nearest and dearest thinks no one will show up to say goodbye to you unless there’s a partially naked woman dancing on your grave.

The Ministry of Culture claims the funeral-stripper business is thriving in rural areas due to a “general lack of cultural events.”  Really? How hard is it to pull together a nice, family-friendly square dance? Or a rousing game of bingo?

But never fear. The Chinese government is all over this. The ministry claims that “Those responsible for vulgar acts will be punished.”

Maybe they’ll spank them.

funeral stripper

 

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REST ASSURED

I was thinking about death recently -because that’s one of the weird things I do – and I had a strange vision of my funeral. My husband had selected the music for the service, resulting in a medley involving Rush and the Foo Fighters.

That’s when I came up with a genius idea: Rest Assured.

In the “As Seen on TV” ad for Rest Assured, we’d freeze frame as the Geddy Lee vocal goes full throttle into “Fly by Night,” then a trusted celebrity pitchman (maybe someone like Dan Aykroyd in Driving Miss Daisy) would step into frame and say, “Don’t let this happen to you.”

DAN: Do your loved ones know what you want when you’re gone? Do they know what music you’d like at your funeral? What flowers? What type of casket? Can they compose an obituary?

(Dan looks directly into camera doubtfully.)

DAN: Do they even KNOW your birthday? Really? (He shakes his head.) Do they know if you want to be buried, cremated, shot off in a firework, or donated? Do they know what you want to wear? No. They don’t. Trust me, I’m an actor. Your family knows none of this. That’s why we’re offering you, Rest Assured. Rest Assured is the all-in-one kit that assures you a funeral that won’t make you die of shame.

(Dan makes his way over to a small table that holds a decorative box.)

DAN: The Rest Assured kit includes a questionnaire that asks the pertinent questions your family needs answered before you croak. And, best of all, it’s in the form of a game, so you can make your wishes clear while enjoying a little light-hearted competition.

If you purchase now, you’ll also receive this companion mini-kit, Friends to the End. The mini-kit contains a key ring, trash bags and notebook. Give this kit to a trusted friend who will act on your behalf in case you’re taken from this world unprepared. ‘Unprepared’ meaning you didn’t have advanced notice and need your friend, upon notification of your death, to race to your home, use the house key you’ll have attached to the key ring, and follow the instructions, also noted here.

(Dan taps the notebook and smiles.)

DAN: …Important instructions like, open drawer to bedside table and remove anything battery operated, inflatable, or ingestible. Go to spare bedroom closet and remove box of videos, magazines and DVDS. Go to kitchen drawer and remove emergency ‘cigarettes’ and matches. Place empty wine/vodka bottles in neighbor’s recycle bin.

That’s right. Friends to the End enables your friend to protect your reputation after your death. Think about it. Your family members rummaging through your possessions. Think hard. Do you want that? Haven’t they been traumatized enough by your death? Do they need to know about your late night snack stash? Your collection of attractive yet impractical women’s shoes? No.

Do they need to read your journal? ABSOLUTELY not.

That’s why you need Rest Assured, and the companion mini-kit, Friends to the End.

(CUT to Dan looking sympathetic.)

DAN: What would YOU pay for peace of mind?

FADE TO BLACK.

_____________________________

Great idea, right?

I KNOW.

A few sample questions included in the Rest Assured kit include:

Where do you hide the GOOD jewelry?

What is the combination to your lock box? Do you have money hidden in Swiss Banks?

What’s your favorite flower? (List names and colors.)

Who do you want to give the eulogy at your funeral? (What if that so-called friend of yours – the one with no brain-to-mouth filter decides to tell the Vegas story?)

Do you really want to spend eternity in a suit? Wouldn’t jeans be more comfortable?

What kind of casket do you want? Wood? Fiberglass? Eco-friendly? Decorative?

Where do you want to be buried – or scattered? (Do you think it’s wise to trust your kids to keep you safe in an urn on the mantel?)

Bag pipe or non-bag pipe interment?

Music: Rainbow Connection or Highway to Hell?

Amazing Grace?

Gloria?

THESE are questions that, once you’re gone, some funeral director will fire at your bereaved relatives. And they’ll HAVE to answer. Even if they don’t know. THINK ABOUT THAT. If it scares you silly, place your order now. Operators are standing by.

If you don’t get things sorted out now, you could end up the victim of an overly enthusiastic funeral director with an overstock of these:

It could happen.

PUTTING THE FUN IN FUNERAL


Due to the passing of a friend of mine last summer, and my father (unexpectedly – the day BEFORE my friend) I have been thinking about funerals. Not obsessively or anything, just in passing. (Oops, no pun intended.)

I have attended fewer than a dozen funerals in my life, and frankly, they have been pretty much what you would expect. Pretty solemn. Rarely, someone who knew the departed would speak and elicit a little “acceptable” audience laughter.

My father’s service in late July changed my funeral paradigm. I wanted to speak, but my brain was not functioning. I have a whole new respect for family members who speak at funerals. There was not enough Valium in the world to get me through that experience.

Thankfully, friends of my father performed the eulogy. There were three speakers, all of whom were close to him and able to share fond memories. However, one individual in particular went above and beyond. Briggs grew up with dad in Maysville, Oklahoma and attended OU with him. He appreciated dad as a friend, an artist and a non-linear thinker. He was a gold mine. The man knew almost every embarrassing/hilarious story involving my father and was perfectly willing to share each of them with us. In church!

It was fantastic. Briggs was sometimes emotional while speaking, but fought his way through and delivered one story after another – zinger after zinger. I sat in the front row with my family, alternately wiping away tears and laughing so hard I thought I would fall off the pew. I cast a few nervous glances at the poor, unsuspecting minister, afraid he would walk out, and half hoping he would because Briggs was obviously editing out some good parts.

My friend’s funeral that afternoon was similar. Several speakers, all of whom knew her well and were able to tell stories that brought an amazing mixture of laughter and tears – an incredible gift – just when you thought you would never laugh freely again. It was such a relief to have a similar “vibe” to both services. That day we all agreed – family and friends – if we didn’t keep laughing, we would never stop crying.

If you don’t have a friend who can do this type of eulogy at your service, get some new friends. PAY someone. Hire them. Do whatever it takes. It is a tragedy to sit through a service that feels like one-size-fits-all.

How lucky my father was. And Leah. We should all be so blessed in our friends.

So, who’s doing your eulogy?

Here’s a link to some of Bill Rogers’ art work. (Gallery.)

Side note: I have Briggs’ typed and hand edited eulogy from the service and will treasure it. The stories he couldn’t tell, the paragraphs he crossed out, the words he highlighted as inappropriate for the venue. (Thank goodness.) Even a few sentences here and there directly addressed to my father. It’s the most hilariously inappropriate and yet heart-warming combination of emotions I have ever had the pleasure to read.