Is this a great century or what? Get buried in a Chilean mine and you're an international celebrity. Get buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery and you're a pariah.
At least that's the possibility if a trend noted by the Associated Press continues. More and more people are abandoning traditional funerals and burials for "green" alternatives.
Green funerals are classified as "light," "medium," or "dark." Different people go to different lengths based on their commitment to the environment ("I'm leaving a carbon footprint, but dadgummit, I'm hopping on one foot!"); but common themes include aversions to: embalming, metal caskets, vaults, headstones, and Justin Bieber. ("As your attorney, I must regretfully advise you that this end-of-life planning meeting is about the end of YOUR life, not the ending of the life of an overexposed teen idol.")
Cost is certainly a consideration for seeking a simple, natural disposal of your earthly remains. But let's not underestimate the influence of cradle-to-grave political correctness. I hear that the Environmental Protection Agency has prepared new specs for eulogies. ("Hezekiah Brown lived a full, rich life. I wish I could say the same for the poor Appalachian pearly mussel...") And how about the secret State Department plot to PhotoShop all the snapshots of the deceased? ("Huh. I didn't remember Bubba havin' a mosque near his deerstand...")
Not everything about an eco-friendly funeral is politically correct, however. Proponents of green burials gleefully point out that embalming was not customary prior to the Civil War. But do they really want to make antebellum practices a selling point for their movement? ("I don't need a fancy mausoleum. Just throw me in a hole and sing some of those pretty Negro spirituals for ol' Massah.")
Many folks switched to green funerals after coming to the startling realization that traditional cemeteries can be cold, sterile, and "sort of sad." I file that under Goes With The Territory. I mean, graves are filled by The Grim Reaper, not the Prozac-Poppin' Scythe-Toter. People who are suddenly squeamish about traditional funerals are probably the same jokers who would sigh, "I simply adore the NBA -- except for the hoops, the scoring, and the fans."
Many people take comfort in the prospects of being buried in a favorite section of the family farm. But that's just the beginning. Some enthusiasts dream of someday opening up national parks for shallow graves. ("Smokey the Bear says, 'Only you can prevent zombie fires.'")
One terminally ill fan of green burials took cheer that trees would soon be sucking up his remains. Coincidentally, I take cheer in the fact that I will soon stop eating fruit!!!
Frankly, my ultimate opinion of green burials depends on how I kick the bucket. If I die from a car wreck, shooting, terrorist act or some other man-made cause, I can be eco-friendly with the best of 'em. On the other hand, if I'm done in by spider bite, lightning, earthquake, or red meat, all bets are off. Forget eco-friendship! I want eco-revenge!
Yep, revenge is a dish best served at room temperature. Just give me some mercury-enhanced embalming fluid and a tasteful mega-watt neon headstone announcing "Here lies the world's first diesel-powered casket."
Alas, I won't Rest In Peace. All the neighbors will be yelling "Turn the engine up louder! We can still hear Justin Bieber!"
Note: Danny Tyree welcomes e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.