Our Founding Fathers demonstrated an incredible in-depth understanding of the complex interaction between the governors and the governed, as can be seen in that great piece of literary work, the Declaration of Independence, There they confidently stated that our inalienable rights included life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. All without help from pundits on Twitter.
Perhaps, though, they should have contained their exuberance for a few hundred years, until they could have consulted a Magic 8-Ball on happiness’s future. In the days of the Founding Fathers, the pursuit of happiness meant they could toss back a few pints at the local pub without the little woman marching through the door, grabbing them by the ear and dragging them away while they were hitting on the town’s schoolmarm.
Things have changed a bit since then.
(In all fairness, the phrase “pursuit of” might have been a typo. The darn Declaration was copied over so many times, something had to fall through the cracks in the parchment.)
Since Disneyland flipped from being the Happiest Place on Earth to the Most Expensive (not counting San Francisco, where a yearly pass costs $300,000), most of us are too busy to pursue happiness, unless it comes with free, two-day shipping.
The good news is that if you miss out on being happy in life, there’s still time to enjoy your birthright postmortem, thanks to the hardworking men and women in the death business. These people have made an unspoken pact with each other. They will never utter the unhappy words dead or death. Also grave, gravestone, dig, dirt, flowers, undertaker, worms, decomposition, bones, rotten flesh and several others not suitable for use on the internet.
This is not idle conjecture.
I discovered the truth when my aunt passed away recently and I visited the cemetery … uh, memorial park … to pay my respects. Endless, happy patches of green were interrupted only by happy slabs of carefully-placed marble popping up here and there. I’m sure that, if seen from the air, the park would bring smiles to people’s faces because it would look like a page of old Johnny Carson jokes translated into Braille.
MEMORIAL PARK COUNSELOR: So how did your loved one pass?
ME: She died of cancer.
COUNSELOR: You mean cancer helped her transition?
ME: Not exactly. It killed her.
COUNSELOR: Aren’t you being a little dramatic?
ME: No, I’m quoting from the death certificate.
COUNSELOR: Eh? The what?
ME: Death certificate.
COUNSELOR: Oh, you mean the end-of-life documentation.
ME: The one with the cause of death on it.
COUNSELOR: We prefer to call that the transition instigation.
ME: Do you have a problem with the word …
COUNSELOR: No sense in our being little Debbie Downers is there? Not after all our permanent residents have been through.
ME: My aunt died …
COUNSELOR … passed …
ME: … peacefully. We had hos …
COUNSELOR (changing the subject): What a lovely spot your family’s chosen for the final resting place. It’s one of our most sought-after locations.
ME: Well, we had her death …
COUNSELOR: … insurance …
ME: … benefits, and she wanted to be buried on a hill under an oak tree.
COUNSELOR: You mean laid to rest.
ME: You would know better than me, but don’t you just sort of lower the coffin …
(The Undertaker begins to hyperventilate.)
ME: … into the grave?
COUNSELOR: You are a strange young man.
ME: Me? You’re the one refusing to state the obvious. My aunt is dead. Gone. Kicked the bucket. Bought the farm.
Before the Counselor … screw it, the mortician … could wash my mouth out with soap, my wife appeared and dragged me away by the ear.
What's the latest Little Known Story people are talking about? Become a Subscriber and you'll never miss out.