A Funny Thing Happened on My Way to a Funeral

My brother once asked me, because I live alone, what happens if I die in my sleep? Would it be one of those awkward situations where a funny smell is detected by my neighbors after a few days? I don’t have any pets, so they won’t find my half-eaten body and a dog with a remorseful look in his eye (at least, I hope he’d look remorseful).

I told my brother not to worry, people at work, if I did not show up one day, would make inquiries. Once, while on vacation, I got a call from a friend wondering where I was. Appreciate the concern, but I was on vacation, and sound asleep when she called.

Joking with my kids, I told them if they can’t get a hold of me one day, to bring bagels and donuts for the poor emergency responders who will have to carry my body out of the house.

The keyword there was ‘joking’. I guess not everyone was in on it, however.

It was my son Danny’s birthday, and we planned a small, family celebration at a restaurant in New Hope, PA. for the following Saturday. Recently, there was a death in the family and a small church service was scheduled for the same day. The service held in the morning, lunch was obviously in the afternoon, so no problem attending both.

I don’t like to drive if I can avoid it. No reason except I prefers to be a passenger instead of the driver (that probably goes a long way to explain how my life turned out). Earlier in the week I called my ex-wife, Arlene, and asked what time she was leaving for New Hope.

“We are leaving here twelve-thirty, lunch is at one,” she said.

Perfect. I explained about the funeral in the morning but would be at her house afterward. The church was much closer to Arlene’s house than mine and closer to the restaurant we were going to. This way, I could change out of my suit, put on some comfortable clothes and if she didn’t mind me driving with her, I’d just leave my car at her house.

No problem, she replied.

Early Saturday morning I drove over to the church. Instead of putting my cell phone on vibrate thought it best to leave it in the car to avoid any distractions during the service. I went into the church, paid my condolences, spoke with family members. Before the full mass was complete, I slipped out the side door not to make a disturbance.

When I checked my cell, I had fifteen missed calls, and two voice mails, from Arlene. I assumed it was about the party; pick up something or another, so I called her back.

“Where have you been?” her voice agitated. I explained I was at a funeral service and reminded her I told her about it earlier in the week.

“I thought you died.”

Well, that was quite a shock. Out of contact for an hour-and-a-half and her first reaction is I’m presumed dead.

Ok, people exaggerate, so I didn’t think too much of it. Then she said this:

“I called the police to have them check on you.”

She went on to tell me the police wanted to know what her relationship was to me. She explained she was my ex-wife. If I were the police, my first thought would be she’s creating an alibi for herself.

She continued telling the police, “He’s been very stressed about his job lately.”

That is true, I have, but it’s more like should I cancel HBO to save some money stress not drop-dead-in-the-kitchen stress.

Arlene went on to tell me how pissed she would have been if I did die because it would have ruined Danny’s birthday party.

It’s always nice to feel the concern she has for me.

Upon the revelation that I did not die in a stress-related manner, she called the police back to tell them I’ve been found. Like a small child that wandered away from his parents.

Or a puppy.

Now that she spent so much time with the police, whatever errands she planned for the morning were ruined, and my idea of changing clothes at her house were thrown out the window.

So, instead of her house and leaving my car there, it was in the parking lot of the Burlington Coat Factory in Flemington, New Jersey, while I changed from my suit into shorts and a shirt in the very small bathroom of Panera Bread. Changing clothes in the bathroom stall of a public restroom is always fun; to have nothing touch the floor while swapping clothes is a magical feat.

Dying is such an inconvenience; next time, I’ll be sure to call ahead.

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Photo courtesy iStock. Photo courtesy Al Deluise.

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