Pushing Up a More Attractive Flower
Thomas Whitney

It's times like this, in the reflective solitude of my residence room, lit only by the glimmering fluorescence of Dunton Tower, with the cold and decisive keystrokes of Beethoven ringing through my ears that I finally have time to relax and reflect upon life's most decadent and complimenting events. "Graduation?" some may ask. "Perhaps a wedding?" No, I consider these to be only milestones to the ultimate feast of self-assurance - my funeral. I know that some may take this as being a bit morbid. Some may think this to be dark or crude, but myself, I revel in the reassurance that a dead man has no enemies. In fact, one's funeral often proves to equal far more than the adding of his or her life's accomplishments. But this is not something you can solely rely upon if you wish to 'put the "fun" in funeral,' as the old saying goes. It is with this in mind that it becomes crucial for one to accept the inevitability of death, and get right to the planning stages. And it is with this intention that I have devised a plan not only to go under in style, but also to go under at low budget to gain the extra praise and love of my successors.

As is well known, funerals are expensive businesses, but no one wants to be the only one of their friends to be buried in an unmarked plot in the backyard. No, it is exponentially important to have a plan of action readily in place for the time of demise. However, I well realize that it is near impossible to execute such a plan by myself at any time post-mortem. Having noted this, phase one of my pre-funeral planning is to ensure that my plan is within the emotionally clenching grasp of loved ones. My first recommendation for anyone attempting this is to staple a copy of the plan essentials to your will. That way, when Uncle Larry gets itchy about paying off his gambling debts, he will find your final wish list resting ominously in his way. Try to leave Larry something nice as well so he doesn't feel the need to betray you. Perhaps that coffee table he's been eyeing up for the pawnshop.

If you are so fortunate to be given the added time on the deathbed, it would be to your benefit to make the last requests in person. If someone hesitates or tries to say no, just start coughing radically and grabbing their shirt in an agonizing fashion for authenticity. If this doesn't work right away, try coughing closer to their face. These kinds of bonds will be afterlife-savers, as they will be the ones reading the eulogies you personally wrote, addressing all of your out-of-this-world accomplishments in the realm of the living. Trust me on this one. As much as we'd all like to think our friends can adequately put to words how great we are, I hardly think that they can do as well as I can.

But you ant to look like you deserve the praise as well. There is shame like having to honour a shoddily attired corpse - and remember, you're fishing for compliments. It is for this reason that you will need a fashionable outfit. The problem is, if you are anything like me then your clothing was purchased second hand, and wasn't burial worthy the first time around. And as we all know, suits are terribly expensive. Nonetheless, there are a few places around which rent suits at a rather reasonable price. And allow me to assure you, they are not only for the guests and speakers.

Of course, for your travels to the land of six-feet-under you will also need a coffin. This is a huge item on the price list, but with the help of a few persuasive power tools, you can easily convince some of your hardware-handy friends to build one for you. If you want to kill two birds with one stone, have them attach wheels and a trailer-hitch to make it a wooden death-wagon. That way, you can dodge the whole ordeal of arranging a hearse. It would be wise to do this well in advance, and may also be a good idea to mark off your own tree.

This would usually suffice, but given that you're dead and can no longer charm people into doing what you will, you will need some added incentive for your guests to keep their places. Luckily, North-American culture dictates that mourning and food go hand in hand. The main problem is that fine catering can prove to be pricey, and tomatoes and lettuce pressed between two slices of bread could be contrived as a comparable image to that of your punctured and rotting corpse. What people really need at a time like this is the soothing sensation of flavorless gruel to glob down their sorrows. But of course, since your loved ones already spent so much on renting your tux, this may be well beyond their budget. Instead, have one of your less savory friends or relatives call up a local soup kitchen. I'm sure that they would be more than happy to accommodate the party of newly attired, job-prospective homeless people parked in the house of a recently deceased humanitarian such as yourself. And as long as you have the first eulogy outline your selfless helping of the needy, and perhaps nudge at how spiffy everyone looks in their "new attire," no further questions will be asked.

But won't the soup kitchen workers get suspicious when you send them to the funeral parlor to dish out their dinner? Of course! But that won't matter for you, because your family will recall you bringing up the pluses of being mourned over in the comfort of your own home.

Finally, once your friends have dug-up and filled-in your final resting hole, you will need something for future generations to remember you by. If you are lucky enough to be a John or Jane Doe, then the festive season of Halloween makes your job a lot easier. Alas, I am cursed with a less ambiguous name, and also feel the need for something more grandiose than a comical, plastic decoration. Nonetheless, if you search gardens around your neighborhood, you will eventually find some flat stepping-stones. Sure, they're not yours (yet), but they are certainly not serving much of a purpose just having people step on them. And if the owners continue stepping on the stone after it has become your grave-marker, at the very least someone will know they cared. As for marking the stones, just get a magic marker. That stuff never washes off.

It has been said that we as individuals have no choice as to when we enter this world, and although some choose to depart on their own terms, we have no control over how we are remembered. I would travel back in time to revise the first part of this notion, but I fear the lessons I have learned from Back to the Future. I have been to funerals before in my lifetime, and can say with utter certainty that the eyes of mourners clouded with tears of pain and suffering are not how I wish to be cast off. Instead, I wish them to cast me off with such a vast array of praise that Narcissus would draw his head from the water to size himself up. It is for this reason that I turn to the old saying, or perhaps it is a proverb: "If you want a job done right, force others to do your bidding."

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