Just in case you’re keeping track, I am currently in Dallas, Texas (as opposed to Dallas, Iowa) visiting my friend Bill.
Bill is a former political cartoonist and cemented our friendship when we went out to dinner in 1979 and on the ride to the restaurant hiked a leg and loudly passed gas. His wife Wendy rolled her eyes and with more than a touch of despair said, “Oh, Bill.”
Bill responded, “Wendy honey, would you really want me to keep something like that inside me?”
That was the best excuse for farting I ever heard and decided to remember it the next time I found myself in that socially awkward situation; I figured Bill was a man I could learn from.
Bill and Wendy are now divorced so I’m guessing she had a somewhat different reaction to Bill’s homespun wisdom and natural gas production.
But despite marital discord, that has never stopped Bill from being Bill.
On Bill’s 40th birthday – held in the Sons of Herman Hall – his buddies brought along the guest of honor: a sheep wearing a garter belt and black nylons.
Somewhere in my basement I’ve got a picture of Bill wearing a helmet liner with straps to hold the helmet in place, but in this case Bill used those straps to attach a live bass to the side of his head and then walked into a Dairy Queen acting like it was everyday attire.
That’s some Texas shit right there.
40 years after Bill first played the intestinal trombone, I still hang out with him just to hear some of that shit Texans say; lawyers are “slicker than owl shit on a hot tin roof”, some people are “useless as tits on a boar hog” and attractive women would “make a freight train take a dirt road.”
Bill just had knee replacement surgery and you might think I’m here to help my old buddy get through a tough time, which means you still don’t get our relationship.
Last night we went to get some fried chicken at restaurant called Bubba’s and when Bill – still limping for the surgery – realized he couldn’t get down the three steps into the dining room carrying a tray of chicken, green beans and mashed potatoes, instead of carrying his tray for him I stood in the middle of the dining room asking loudly: “Gramps, you need help?” just to embarrass the shit out of him.
I’ve already called him “Hopalong” and before my visit is over I’ll work in “Pegleg” and “Chester.” I might ask Long John Silver if he wants me to go buy him a parrot and an eye patch.
Today we visited a clothing store and Bill asked the clerk to be nice to me because I just got out of prison was putting together a new wardrobe.
It’s what friends do.
When he picked me up at the airport driving a Chevy Silverado Texas Edition, I asked what the fuck a Texas Edition truck was: “You turn it on and it tells you how big it is?”
There’s something about Texas that produces humor and stories unlike anything you encounter in California or New York.
Bill once asked me, “I ever tell you ‘bout the time my daddy got the shit beat outta him by some professional wrestlers’ momma swingin’ a Tide box fulla perch? I might be wrong, but that doesn’t sound like an incident that would happen in L.A. or San Francisco.
So anyway, I’m in Texas and this was all background to today’s subject…death.
Burial or cremation?
Before we went to dinner at Bubba’s we had lunch at an Italian restaurant owned by an Albanian.
We were there to meet Bill’s friend Doc and when I asked why he was called Doc, Bill said, “He’s a veterinarian” so I asked of what war. (Hey, we make a lot of jokes, I never said they were good ones.)
So at one point I found myself in a nice Italian restaurant, listening to a Texan veterinarian describe the best way to jack off a poodle. I’m not sure what medical procedure requires that, by Doc says he’s a full service vet so if you got a Chihuahua with blue balls you might want to schedule an appointment.
Next, Bill and Doc got on the subject of cremation, mainly because the day before I arrived they had gone together to set up getting barbequed after they die. Doing it before they die might violate some ordinance, but this is Texas so that’s probably legal in a county or two.
I asked Doc why he chose cremation over burial and he said to save space.
I asked if they could get a post hole digger and plant him vertically if that would change his mind, but he stuck to his guns and actually came up with a pretty good reason besides the expense of real estate and the upkeep of a grave site until the end of time which the way we’re going could be some time next year.
Doc asked how many people know where their grandparents are buried and if so, how often do they visit their graves.
“We’re forgotten after just one generation.”
So put me down for the pizza oven
The next topic was the crazy expense of burial and people being conned into showing how much they loved the deceased by purchasing the Coupe de Ville of caskets. But once you’re six feet under and everyone goes home to get hammered and watch Netflix, who gives a shit if your coffin was made of mahogany from Africa or cardboard from the behind the grocery store.
It’s much cheaper to be cremated and let your loved ones carry you home in a Hefty garbage bag until they decide what to do with you.
Since Bill and Doc were trying to save money, I suggested we ask the guy who owned the Italian restaurant if when the time came we could borrow his pizza oven, but like a number of my best ideas it was ignored.
But here’s a great idea I hope my kids will take advantage of:
I’m a baseball fan so when my time comes, mix my ashes in with the lime and turn me into a foul line. If there’s enough of me leftover, I wouldn’t mind being a batter’s box as well.
I haven’t looked into the laws governing this kind of thing where I currently live, but if they won’t allow that in Missouri, take me where you know nobody gives a good goddamn about government rules.
Do it in Texas.