Cement Shoes

I was on the phone with Birmingham last night bitching about my usual complaint: that a handful of my friends are so busy with their lives, they haven’t returned phone calls. Again, weighed my options for response. Call again and risk further rejection, send emails giving them a piece of my mind, which could be taken all kinds of wrong, or fake a major accident and make them rush to my side in the hospital, only to find that I was making it all up. But since none of them made it to my side when I had a broken ankle, I have no reason to believe they would for any other injury.

Birmingham, true to his “roll with the punches” (and slightly passive aggressive) good nature suggested that I just write them out of my will, which is actually a document on my desktop called “Read this if I die,” because the most expensive thing I own is the fitted walking cast boot thing I wore for six weeks last fall.

“Then, when you’re cremated, they’ll be sorry.”

“The only problem I have with that option is that I’d prefer to be friends with them again while I’m still alive. Also, I don’t want to be cremated.”

“I thought you did.”

“No, nowadays I’m into the green burial idea.”

“What in the world is that?”

“It’s where they just dig a hole and put you in, no formaldehyde, no pollutants shooting off from cremation fires, no wasteful coffin, no gravestone.”

“Noelle, that’s not called a green burial, that’s called a mafia burial.”

“Oh yeah. I guess the only difference is that one takes place in a lovely field in the middle of the day, and the other behind a warehouse in Jersey at 2 AM.”

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27 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by nancypearlwannabe on April 28, 2008 at 7:40 am

    I was just listening to an episode of This American Life where they were talking about suspended animation after you die, and all I could think was, “WHY?!” Why would you want to be shoved in a container of liquid nitrogen for possibly hundreds of years, and if you were, would you really want to then be reanimated?

    Green burial it is.

    Yeah, I don’t want to wake up to Futurama, Bender is such a jerk.

  2. If he’d just propose already he would probably already know that. Sheesh.

    Way to be on my side 3Carn!

  3. You crack me up! I like the idea of a green burial but I think I will write in my will “mafia burial.” That is just fabulous.

    Just make sure to specify that you DON’T want the rat in your mouth.

  4. i dont know how you get into these random conversations but i love reading about them! you are so funny and entertaining, I’d call you back if you were my friend. 🙂

    It’s one of the reasons that I had to get back in touch with Birmingham after we broke up. He opens doors of comedy gold for me.

  5. That’s really funny.

    You know, they make recycled cardboard coffins now, to avoid having the green burial look like an inside job. . .

    Yes, I imagine it would take a very conscientious gangster to bother with the cardboard.

  6. Ahahahaha! So good! Because of flaky friends, I started screening my phone calls just to be passive aggressive. One thing led to another…and now I’m just as flaky to them. Me thinks it’s a downward slope.

    Yeah, I want to get back at them by ignoring their calls if they call me, but that would defeat the point.

  7. Posted by lizgwiz on April 28, 2008 at 8:54 am

    Well, I’ve been on both sides of the “friends taking their time returning calls,” so I can’t get too self-righteous. It’s never that I don’t want to see them…we all just get so busy. I did get a call this weekend from a friend I hadn’t talked to in over 3 years (her being the one to not return the phone calls this time), inviting me to go to a concert with her. Which I did, and we both just pretended like there wasn’t a 3-year gap, and chatted like we saw each other every day. Weird, but kind of nice.

    I’m weighing the green burial option, too. Or becoming part of a barrier reef. (Seriously–Eternal Reefs.) Or, if I decide a flamboyant departure is just a necessity, damn it, having my cremains exploded as part of a fireworks display. (Seriously. You can do that.)

    I love picking up friendships where they left off, I just hate when they leave off. Also, I’m going to have to look into the barrier reef thing. The fireworks thing is not for me.

  8. You could always go for the burial at sea. Of course, that could be considered kind of mafia-esque too.

    I don’t know if non-mafia burials can happen at sea if you don’t die there first.

  9. I am frequently flaky at returning calls, so I can’t really get mad when other people do that to me. I am a much better e-mailer!

    Yeah, with email I’m like a wiz. But my friends used to be, too.

  10. HA!! mafia burial. your friend has a very good point!

    and “read this if i die”. bahaha.

    and as for the friend situation. that’s tough but you have to think that perhaps you shouldn’t be getting upset over these yahoos. because well they are yahoos.

    They’re not really yahoos, they just don’t understand how badly they’re hurting my feelings.

  11. I love blogs about Birmingham. For some reason, they make me feel clean. Just this morning, I opened my closet and said – out loud – “I am going Birmingham on you this weekend.”

    I need a will.

    Where there is a will, there’s a way.

  12. Posted by Michelle on April 28, 2008 at 9:54 am

    Sometimes I wonder if you and I are the same person. I feel very alone right now. I can’t even entertain myself with TV since I can’t goddamn HEAR it because of the f-ing saws, and hammers.

    No, we’re probably different people. No hammering here. But if there was, I might be inclined to get upset.

  13. I too find it very frustrating when I reach out only to be ignored. It’s made me realize most of my friends are fair-weather friends.

    The “been very busy” response from my friends is an excuse. It’s not one I accept. When someone says that to me I don’t give any sort of response. Well, sometimes I say “oh. I see.”

    I’ve tried talking to my friends about their lack of response to phone calls and emails. I even sent one a letter detailing how hurt and upset I was. It didn’t matter. So now I don’t call her and (apparently) she doesn’t call me. I tried to have closure but she wasn’t interested in it. So after almost 20 years of friendship, this one bit the dust thanks to her being “very busy.” Yea, whatever. In the end I realize she was never a good friend. And this woman was my maid of honor. (moral of the story: don’t choose friends to be in your wedding party. After five years you don’t talk anymore and then you’re left with strangers in your wedding pictures).

    I have nothing constructive to say, obviously. I do want to say I understand your frustration and pain. Remember this saying “when someone shows you who they are, believe them.” I do.

    Yeah, in this world where we all have texting, cell phones, and email, there’s no excuse to not at least drop a simple line to keep the friendship going.

  14. I’ll bury you for $11.37 and a Twix in the community garden down the block from me.

    It’s nice, there’s usually only one crack head who hangs out there.

    It’s a deal!

  15. I am a sad, sad person. Why is this? Because in the middle of reading this post, I suddenly thought to myself “Oh! Green burial! That’s how they buried Nate on Six Feet Under!”.

    Which, spoiler: Nate dies. Sorry. It’s been three years since the show ended, people.

    PS – Come to Boston. We’ll return your calls.

    In my document, there is actually a line that says, “I want to be buried like Nate in Six Feet Under, and I’m sorry if that spoils it for anyone, but you should be more upset about the fact that I’m dead than the fact that I ruined the end of a TV show for you, you should have watched it by now.”

  16. Sign me up for the mafia burial. Better yet, I’ll do it myself. I guess I’ll still need someone to fill the hole in, though. But I’ll buy the shovel.

    Just not yet. Give me another 50 years or so, please.

    OK, let’s have a 50 year burial pact!

  17. Posted by wingtip on April 28, 2008 at 12:05 pm

    BBC News.. Australia, A company in Victoria state has been given permission to open a vertical cemetery, where bodies are buried standing up..

    That is so oddly space efficient, coming from a country that doesn’t lack for space at all.

  18. I’d return your call!

    I’m donating my body to science when I die. I even have a spiffy donor’s card. How awesome am I?!

    That is awesome! My new license says “Organ Donor” in big red letters. I hope it works.

  19. Shall we plant a Christmas Tree to mark your place?

    Love it!

  20. Mafia burial – too funny! Is a “green” burial legal???

    It’s becoming legal, but in very limited ways.

  21. Posted by Jess on April 28, 2008 at 5:21 pm

    I spent years not calling people I loved because I didn’t want to bother them with all my shit. Apparently the habit stuck on both sides of the fence. Oops.

    I also had an “if I die” paper in my top dresser drawer from 8th grade on. Looking back, it was kind of creepy then. Oh well.

    Yeah, I’d rather hear from people than not at all. Because before you know it, loss of a friendship is another shitty thing (for the record, it wasn’t you or anyone who lives in your state that I was referring to.)

  22. I love that “nowadays [you’re] into” any type of burial. I’m into carrot sticks with hummus lately. You’re into mafia burials. Eh. We all have our thing. Do you really have a file on your desktop titled “Read this if I die”? If so, I am weirdly impressed.

    That’s true, it is a weird trend to be into. And now I want carrot sticks with hummus, so much better than death!

  23. Posted by sadieandleo on April 28, 2008 at 11:13 pm

    LOL~ I’m for the green burial thing too.

    Friends… busy friends. I know all too well this dilemma, because I am one of those “too busy friends”, perhaps not one that you speak of, but when it comes to blogging you can count me as one. All I can say about your friends is this, you are in their thoughts and they do love you. I’m a positive thinker.

    I’m too busy sometimes, too. I like to think that they think of me, and I guess they think I’m pretty happy and don’t need them, but that is the farthest thing from the truth.

  24. […] Noelle mentioned green burials in a post the yesterday, so I thought I’d piggy back on that idea and talk about green burial arrangements. From GreenBurials.org: A green burial is a cremation alternative, and a viable alternative to “traditional” burial practices in the United States. It is an earth friendly option when considering burial vs cremation. Many families choose cremation because it’s seen as more environmentally friendly than traditional burial. Embalming, expensive sealed caskets and burial vaults are not required by law. Though traditional memorial parks may require them, a green cemetery or memorial nature preserve does not. The simplicity of a green burial is in tune with nature and need not be expensive. […]

  25. Ha! I really never thought of the mafia as being eco-friendly. I guess everyone is going green these days.

  26. My friend has told her mom, just in case, that she wants to be buried in a sweatshirt and turned over on her stomach because that’s how she slept when she was alive.

  27. bein from jersey i’m chucklin at this one.

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