In the 1990s, I lived very close to the Forest Hills cemetery in Jamaica Plain, MA. I mean I practically lived in the damned cemetery on a semi-private road a few hundred feet from the entrance. There were more dead people around me than living ones, by far.
On the other hand, the house was just a stone’s throw (well, a very impressive throw of a stone) from the end of the Orange Line, with easy access to the city where a lot of alive people were crowding together, as they do in cities. To have access to hordes of alive people via the subway and almost as many dead ones via my own two feet, including Eugene O’Neill and E. E. Cummings (not to mention the restauranteur Jacob Wirth), tells you just how versatile my living situation was.
If you must know, I had a girlfriend back in those days, as was expected of young men of my social stature and careful breeding, and it goes without saying that I had a very high level of emotional maturity, which required that I have an equally emotionally mature girlfriend. Sometimes, though, two emotionally mature adults cancel each other’s maturity out, and you end up with an emotionally exhausted couple who go dancing on graves.
Human beings have been dancing on graves ever since dancing and graves were invented. The caveman Oog is credited with dancing the first jig, which he did on the grave of his late rival Boog. But once people started freaking out about the possibility of ghosts, they stopped dancing on the graves of their dead rivals, lest they get visited by poltergeists in the middle of the night.
Which brings me to some dusky evening 25 or so years ago in the Forest Hills cemetery, when, during a tipsy group amble, my girlfriend dared me and others to dance on a grave. Which we did.
I don’t know whose grave I danced on, but suffice it to say that the person buried there was emotionally mature enough in the afterlife not to come to my apartment and rattle chains outside my bedroom door.
When I’m subpoenaed to testify before congress, as we all know is inevitable, my plan is to don a nice suit and come with prepared statements that I deliver with complete earnestness. But deep down in my heart I’ll be totally goofing on the senators interviewing me.
Because who can resist goofing on senators? Not even God can’t resist goofing on US senators.
Did you know that when US senators die they start making their way toward the gates of heaven, but instead of being greeted by a tipsy Saint Peter dressed in a Hawaiian shirt and drinking from a hollowed-out pineapple, they curiously find themselves alone in an old cemetery at dusk with the wind howling, a rusty old padlock securing the wrought iron gates?
What the heck! I wasn’t so bad, was I? What, just because I killed a gun bill or two? Or ten? That means I go to hell?
As darkness descends, pitchfork-wielding demons emerge, surrounding the dead senator. Before being fitted with a suit of flames, the old stodgy white male is brought to a podium, where he is forced to answer questions from an unrelenting British press.
But suddenly the lights come up, God struts out, and a studio audience applauds. It was all a joke. It turns out that God doesn’t send anyone to hell.
Sounds awesome, until you realize that this means that everyone you’ve ever met on earth is in heaven. Major design flaw!
I was wondering recently if my kids would be loyal to me if I really needed them to be, and I’m starting to think they wouldn’t. That’s just like kids, isn’t it? Unwilling to bend the rules for dear old dad.
“You don’t want dear old dad to go to jail, do you?”
They’re about to yell “No!” and then they think: “hmmm.”
Not that there’s anything I could possibly go to jail for. Heh heh. Except maybe that I dote on my kids too much. Always giving them chocolatey goodies whenever they want them (slight exaggeration). Constantly reaffirming that they are allowed all the ice cream they can eat until the end of time (which may not be so far into the future, by the way). But only as long as they are loyal.
Which is absolutely NOT a quid pro quo.
But here’s the thing: they totally can’t handle loyalty. They might take it from me, but they are not necessarily going to give it back.
In this respect, my children are like my cats.
I recently heard that, by and large, we humans are not consuming enough chocolate.
I’m pretty confident that I consume enough chocolate for several people, which can only mean that some people out there aren’t pulling their chocolate consumption weight. They claim to eat their fair share and sometimes even manage to, but then they slack off, and soon are failing to make chocolate an integral part of their diets. If there’s chocolate around maybe they’ll indulge, but they aren’t creative enough to think consciously about how to get their chocolate numbers up.
Guess what: that person used to be me. I know you think of me as a chocolate hero, always eating extra chocolate to account for the laggards who aren’t willing to put in the sweat-equity, always managing the house’s stores of chocolate and variety of selection, always ready with a friendly quip or adage about chocolate.
Close. I do go above and beyond, but the fact is I haven’t been ready with a quip about chocolate in quite some time. Will be talking to my life coach about this at our next session.