Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Blog clog

Man, I've been trying to cook up a really great entry about how inspired I've been since reading "On Writing," but unfortunately, trying to be really great is a certain death blow for me. Just thinking those words--really great--ices up my fingers and turns my toes frostbite-green.

Yes, frostbite is green. My mother suffers from some post-frostbite circulatory disorder (like Reynaud's syndrome, I think), and when her fingers/toes get cold, her skin turns the nastiest green imaginable. It is actually the same olive-gray color as a corpse.

I know this because we went to the wrong funeral home. When I was a freshman in college, I took a class called "Death and Dying." The prof was about to retire in order to focus on his own literary work, and this was his last foray into morbidity. (He had actually broken new ground in the field--our school was the first to offer a class on D-&-D, which is now a common topic. But then, the man used to keep a coffin in his office and give out extra credit points to anyone willing to shut themselves inside.) Every year, the class organized a field trip to a nearby mortuary to experience first-hand the preparation which goes into a person's last party.

Our class screwed up. The girl in charge called the new funeral home, the one three blocks away from campus, not one. These people were educators in their field, eager to share their knowledge. They showed us every aspect of their work, from the emergency refrigerators in the basement to the frilly chapel. They showed us the cardboard boxes used to take bodies to the crematorium (Yes, you have to be in some kind of coffin to be burned. It's a law. But cardboard is okay for the uberfrugal). And we even got to see the embalmed bodies waiting for the makeup artist's touch, perched on beautician's reclining chairs.

One body--heavy-set and large--sat under a sheet, like a man relaxing at the barber's office before a shave. He hadn't made it through the embalming process yet, and the staff thought we might find him disturbing. (Although if the detailed description of how they suck out blood and replace it with toxic chemicals didn't bother us, I don't see how an ordinary dead guy would really shake us up.)

Anyway, what we could see of him was gray-green. Like my mother's hands, like my own, clenched on the keyboard in the desparate attempt to type something REALLY GREAT.

I'll settle for a tangent.

No comments: