Thursday, May 3, 2007

"He was an avid string collector"

My friend Georgette Braun has an interesting little article here about writing her own obituary. (It's a purely academic exercise in this case. She doesn't plan on croaking anytime soon. By the way, to read her draft obit, you have to click on "Geo's obit" in the little box on the left of the main article.)

Not to be macabre about it, but I love reading obituaries. Next to opinion pieces, they're my favorite part of the paper. I try to imagine, from the scant evidence provided, what a person's life was really like. Some seem to have been exciting, busy, worthwhile, adventurous. Others seem to have been sadly humdrum ("He liked to collect string and watch from his porch for passing cars with out-of-state license plates"). Many seem to have been, like the lives of most of us, filled with great ups and downs.

It's preferable, I find, for an obit on a person who died in old age to include a photo from young adulthood or middle age. It more vividly evokes the life of the person than does a picture of a geezer.

One thing I'll never understand is why the headlines on so many obits include the person's obvious nickname, like Daniel "Dan" Smith, or Debra "Debbie" Johnson. I don't know, it just strikes me as stupid. But, of course, it's perfectly sensible to include non-obvious nicknames, as in Robert "Spud" Fletcher, or Margaret "Babe" Nelson.

I also don't understand why the headlines on some obituaries omit the person's age. Then, I have to find the date of birth (if it's there) and do the math. It's as if the person was one of those sillies who never admit to their real ages. Come on. You're dead. What difference does it make?

Geo's piece has prompted me to start work on my own obituary. I want it to be a little offbeat: "His countless efforts to achieve greatness always fell short, but he accepted defeat philosophically and with characteristic good humor -- except for the time he ended up in jail for having burned down the offices of a major book-publishing firm."

It'll include some other fun stuff. It's a work-in-progress.


jennie said...

oh, rascal, you're so funny.

The Rascal said...

Thanks, Jennie, but the dark humor seems to have eluded one acquaintance, who likened my satirical reference to arson to the disturbing writings of that kid at Cary Grove High School in McHenry County. Yipes! Does this mean I won't get my GED?

Anonymous said...

Weird, man.