“So how’s the party going?” I ask Beth, one of our waitresses.
“Not bad considering,” she replies shrugging.
“So who was the deceased?” I ask. “Did you find out?”
“Their grandma,” Beth says. “She was like 90.”
“An old soul whose time had come,” I say. ( whose )
“They’re lucky we were empty,” I say. “Usually we can’t take thirty people without a reservation.”
“Do we get a lot of business from the funeral home?” Beth asks.
“I’d say we get one funeral dinner a month.”
“But it’s always last minute scheduling.”
“Sometimes people die at the last minute.”
Beth chuckles. “That’s true.”
“Funny there’s a funeral dinner here tonight,” I say, “Did you see that article in today’s Times?”
“Which article?” Beth says.
“The one about funeral concierge services?”
“They’re like event planners,” I say. “They help people arrange funerals, memorial service videos, stuff like that.”
“Gimme a break.”
“Some of the funerals are non-traditional,” I explain. “People want mountaintop disco parties, ice cream trucks graveside, memorial services in bars or restaurants – you call these guys.”
“What ever happened to a casket in a church?” Beth says.
“I guess that’s too low brow now.”
“What bullshit,” Beth says.
“People used to washed their loved ones bodies themselves,” I say. “Then they’d wake the corpse in the parlor or kitchen.”
“Those days are over, Beth says. “That’s what funeral homes are for.”
“Yeah,” I say, “But these days people don’t even want to see the body. We want to be insulated from death’s reality.”
“That’s ridiculous,” Beth says.
I grab my copy of The Times and find the article we’re discussing.
“Listen to this shit,” I say, quoting the article.
“….more families choose cremation — close to 70 percent in some parts of the West — services have become less somber because there is not a dead body present. “The body’s a downer, especially for boomers (a funeral planner) said. “If the body doesn’t have to be there, it frees us up to do what we want. They may want to have it in a country club or bar or their favorite restaurant. That’s where consumers want to go.”
“I think I’m going to be sick.” Beth says.
“If someone said my loved one’s body was a downer,” I growl, “There would be TWO bodies instead of one.”
“Consumers?” Beth says. “That’s what they’re calling dead people now? So death’s a business?”
“It’s been a business for a long time,” I reply. “But with millions of Yuppie Boomers heading for the grave – we’re talking about billions in profits.”
“So it’s all about money.”
“But it’s also about control,” I say, returning to the article. “Listen to this.”
“Baby boomers are all about being in control. This generation wants to control everything, from the food to the words to the order of the service. And this is one area where consumers feel out of control.”
“But you’re dead!” Beth exclaims. “What do you care?”
“Yuppies are gonna be the New Egyptians,” I reply. “They’re gonna want to be buried in their SUV’s so they can drive in the afterlife.”
“You can’t take it with you,” Beth says, shaking her head.
“I think someone helping you with a funeral is a good idea,” I say, “But I think a lot of this money could be better spent on the living.”
“Man,” Beth says. “Over the next twenty years a lot of Yuppies are going into the ground.”
“And it’s doesn’t matter if they have funeral concierge services, corpseless funerals, or the nicest plot in the cemetery,” I say, “Dead is still dead.”
“Yeah,” Beth says, “But even in death Yuppies want someone to kiss their ass.”
When they reach the Pearly Gates, I wouldn’t put it past my customers to ask God for the best table in the house. Hmm……they might be in for a small surprise.
“Some habits die hard Beth,” I say. “Some habits die hard.”