Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Undead

Part of my job on weekends is to edit or type up the obituaries that funeral homes send in. Normally, during the week, our classified department handles them, but since they're not in on weekends, that falls to me.
It is easily one of the parts of the job I enjoy the least. Checking grammar doesn't really carry the excitement that running out to a building fire or a shooting has, but it's as necessary to the newspaper as both of those.
 Maybe it's that exciting for this guy.
An editor once told me what makes a newspaper the paper of record in an area is where the obituaries get sent. So, I guess I have to do my part.
Something I always think of when I read obituaries is how the person I'm reading about must have had at least one aspect of them that was interesting. Unfortunately, by and large, obituaries don't generally convey that.
There are several that have. One talked about a guy that enjoyed Italian music, played the accordion and was president of his horseshoe club or something. But that was just a few lines.
In another, I found out a local man had graduated from the University of Wisconsin like me. As such, while I wrote through his, I played our shared alma mater, "Varsity." I liked to think he would have appreciated that.
But those are just a few instances.
I understand the importance of obituaries, too. They can help remind people of each other, aid in maybe tracing family trees. 
But reading through a survivor's list is hardly a page-turner.
Not too long ago, I resolved to write my own obituary. I wanted to make it something people would want to read.
Though, I guess writing something just to get it read can be something of a sin.
After all, the quote beneath my senior picture in my high school yearbook wasn't some 311 song lyric or a Dr. Seuss passage like half of everyone else.
Instead, it read, "If you're reading this in 100 years, we're all dead." 
That was probably my most widely read work.
In any case, last Sunday, there weren't very many obituaries. Some days they come in waves, some they come in trickles.
The latter day is doubly for rejoicing, as I don't have many to edit and people are generally still alive in the world.
So Sunday was a rejoice-ful day and, as such, with some time on my hands, I decided that I might as well write my own obituary because, well, you never know what could happen.
  You never know.
 So here it is. Make sure this goes into the paper. Feel free to email my editor and give her a piece of your mind if it doesn't.
 Francis M. Otto,  of West Chester
Francis Michael Otto, (insert age), of West Chester, died suddenly and heroically (insert date). He leaves behind no spouse but several booty calls.
Frank, as he was known by friends, was a joy to everyone he was around and had few to no enemies (though some sources are probably not mourning very much).
He attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he was a close, personal friend of Bucky Badger and talked to Bo Ryan that one time.
He was predeceased by Brothers Bar and Grill on Lake Street in Madison.
Cut down in the prime of his life, he surely would have gone on to win several Keystone Press Awards, two to three Pulitzer Prizes and at least a walk-on role in the next Muppet movie.
Those that knew him described him as handsome, attractive, becoming, admirable, and suave.
Those that didn’t know him described him similarly.
His funeral will be held at sunset, when his body will be pushed out into the murky, smelly Schuylkill in a flaming canoe. He will be wearing the sweat-stained, dirty Sox cap his Mom hated so very much.
He also requested that Explosion in the Sky’s entire album, “The World is Not a Cold Dead Place” be played while stories of his mighty life are recounted.
Additionally, all of the women he slept with are asked to be in attendance.
Anyone else can come, too, I guess, if they really want.
In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to Frank’s favorite charity, the Help, I Was Such an Idealist and Decided to Become a Journalist and Now I’m Poor Foundation. The collection point is Frank’s old desk at 24 N. Hanover St, Pottstown, Pa.
Funeral arrangements are being handled by whoever wants to get rid of a canoe.
 The world mourns

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