Let’s Polka to Death

Lately it seems there have been a number of stories in the news about people who put their personal flair into their funerals. Whether is it is the woman who chose to use her obituary to proclaim Tom Brady’s innocence in Deflategate, or the woman who urged voters from the other side to vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016. These stories started to make me worry about who would carry out my final wishes. Could I really trust my family to plan my funeral? I mean, they’d probably dress me up in my parochial school uniform in a last-ditch effort to salvage my reputation. I don’t have kids, so if I died tomorrow my mother would no doubt arrange for a full Catholic burial with all the incense and trimmings before sticking me in the ground where no one will visit me. I’ll have nothing to do all day but wait for some young hooligans to come have sex on my grave or deface my headstone and then my zombie ass will come out and chase them down the street like Michael Jackson’s Thriller. (I’ll pause while you do the zombie dance.) Other than the hope of future hauntings, I really have no use for cemeteries.

I recently read an article from the BBC which listed the top 30 funeral songs in the UK. The number one song is Monty Python’s Always Look on the Bright Side of Life. I thought this was a great choice, because it would get the audience whistling, but not really the right choice for me, being one who is not particularly optimistic.

I’m not even sure I want a funeral. (Sorry Mom. On the bright side (pun!), if you are really right and this choice lands me in purgatory, at least I won’t have to hear you say “I told you so” ad infinitum on the other side.)

I thought a New Orleans Funeral Parade would be nice, with a jazz band. But that probably requires permits and string-pulling. With my luck it would end up as a guy with a trumpet followed by 30 people waving jazz hands. An Irish wake is very tempting. Funerals would be much better if the service was open bar. If my Irish wake had actual Irish men with accents reciting Yeats, that would be a delicious bit of irony for my send-off. That’s moved up to Plan B.

For Plan A, I’ve settled on a Celebrity Roast. I’m going to need a lawyer to carry out my wishes since I’m pretty sure I’ll die alone and my dogs won’t be very useful for booking talent. Fortunately, my friend Doug does stand-up comedy and would make an excellent master of ceremonies. I know many funny people in my life, just not as funny as I am. It would be held in a bar, so that’s convenient. For my lazy ass friends who don’t want to leave the house, we can run a podcast, but no open bar for you!

I don’t have a lot of celebrity friends, but I’m sure there’s some cheap ones I can rent. Norm MacDonald would be a nice touch; I’m sure he’s quasi-cheap these days. I would hope Hugh Jackman would attend, what with him starring in my movie and all. Maybe a few members of my writing tribe will make it big by then. I would allow them to read some poetry, but only limericks. There would have to be some Swedish hockey players there. I’m sure former Hartford Whaler Ulf Samuelsson could use the cash. I’m optimistic we could fill out the roster with castoffs from The Bachelorette. Maybe an old boyfriend or two…my sorority sisters know which one I’d want to see again 🙂

For my musical program, I would like a polka band, accompanied by my friend Trish on the ukulele because, well, open bar. They would warm up the guests with mandatory audience participation of “The Chicken Dance”, because I will gather my friends in Heaven to mock you all for doing that. The remainder of my Celebrity Roast Funeral Playlist would look like this:

  1. Theme from Hockey Night in Canada. Because that is awesome.
  2. Beer Barrel Polka. Because it’s a funeral, duh.
  3. Superfreak, by Rick James. Because you know you’ll be thinking it.
  4. Never Surrender, by Corey Hart. Because it’s inspirational, and Corey Hart is probably unemployed and willing to fly to CT for the funeral of his #1 Superfan.
  5. The Night Pat Murphy Died, by Great Big Sea. Because it’s about death and using a coffin as a whiskey cooler.
  6. Once Before I Go, from The Boy from Oz, sung by Hugh Jackman. Because it sums it all up, and Hugh will be there anyway, so he can throw on some gold lame pants and belt it out.
  7. Ring of Fire, by Johnny Cash. Because irony.
  8. Enjoy Yourself (It’s Later Than You Think), by Louis Prima. Because this is the way House, M.D. ended and it is the perfect song for a conga line.
  9. Going Out in Style, by Dropkick Murphys. Because it mentions shooting pucks with Bobby Orr.
  10. Keg on my Coffin, by Chris Trapper. Because my friend Aileen could probably get Chris Trapper to come sing it for me if she pushes the “open bar.”

That’s a pretty cool “songs to die by” playlist if I do say so myself.

I would also give out party favors to my guests. A tiny sapling with sprinkles of me in the dirt, like Miracle-Gro only less toxic with more alcohol. This way, I’m saving the planet, and you will all feel guilty not planting the tree if you know I’m in the bag. Then the remainder of my dust can be sprinkled in Sweden, hopefully on a pond near my tiny vacation house, so when it freezes in winter I can be close to Swedish hockey players. Circle of Life.

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