Taking It With You
They say you can’t take it with you but that doesn’t stop some of us from trying.
Humorist Christopher Buckley writes that he placed something in his father William F. Buckley’s casket before burial — a jar of his dad’s favorite peanut butter. He also included “my mother’s ashes, his rosary, the TV remote control.”
I didn’t know you could do that. Sure, the pharaohs prepared for the afterlife. But we’re too modern for that, aren’t we? Heck, no. It’s still an appealing idea. So I’ve been thinking about what I’d like slipped into my pine box to follow me into the hereafter.
But let’s start with my family first. What’s its jar of peanut butter?
Mom is easy. For her, the Sunday New York Times. It already takes an eternity to read, and now she’ll have all the time in the world. I would also include the keys to a convertible. Mom has owned two, and I think she’d like another. You don’t need a hardtop where it’s always sunny and warm. Please note — I said warm, not hot.
For Dad I choose a transistor radio forever playing 1010 WINS, the news radio station. When Dad discovered it, his life became “all news, all the time.” He even listened on the beach. Sure, we were on vacation, but the world’s affairs still needed to be kept under close observation, like a passenger keeping a watchful eye on a plane’s wing, lest it fall off.
My wife would pack light: a bottle of ink, a pen, a pad of Strathmore paper and a light box. If Isabella can draw, she’s happy anywhere. I’m sure she’d like the bag of pistachios I’d include — as long as the used shells don’t get mixed up with the uneaten nuts. She hates that.
My own needs are, to be honest, a little more complex.
I’d want to be wearing my Blue Öyster Cult belt buckle. That’s not a like-to-have, that’s a need-to-have. I also require a copy of The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse, and as much buttercrunch from Ben & Bill’s Candy Emporium in Bar Harbor, Maine as you can fit in. Folks, we’re talking two layers of dark chocolate covered in ground almonds with butterscotch sandwiched in between them. Wherever I find myself, I would be very popular, until they realized I wasn’t about to share any. Look, I have to make it last a long time — unless I end up in the place chocolate quickly melts. That would be hell.
And make room for my Buffalo Forge grill — I’m not going anywhere without the ability to barbeque. Although the grill knocks down to a surprisingly small size, I’m beginning to think I’m going to need a larger casket, hoarder size. I wonder if Costco sells them? It would surely be popular among baby boomers. We have a lot of stuff.
“Jim, what about a pyramid?” you say. Too easy to rob. If word gets out about the buttercrunch inside, every Bill & Bob’s freak from Bangor to Boston would be coming by with crowbars, like the walking dead, but even more unstoppable. No, no pyramid for me. A simple lead-lined, Titanium-clad casket, jackhammer-resistant.
Did you know that Vikings would sometimes inter their servants as a part of their burial ceremonies? Inconvenient for the servants, I would think. Well, I haven’t got any, so it’s not a decision I have to grapple with.
A concern. What if my kids disobey my wishes — it wouldn’t be the first time. They might decide they know better what’s best for me. Like Olivia Newton John’s greatest hits, as a little joke when I arrive on the other side. If that’s the case, boys, I will come back and haunt you like the poltergeist Peeves in Harry Potter, only even more obnoxiously. And don’t let your mother give me any fruits and vegetables. I want the buttercrunch. Besides, I won’t have to worry about eating healthy anymore. I’ll be dead.