To be a good writer you should have an interesting life.
Even skid-row drunks have a more interesting life than me, apparently. Even guys who haven't had a job for most of their adult lives, who've seen the inside of the county lock-up, who've actually got a rap sheet-- these guys have more interesting lives than me.
Of course, if you're living that life and you don't happen to be a recognized literary genius, you're stuck living that life while I get to sit in this office 11 hours per day wondering what's going to happen to me. The drunks know what's going to happen. They're going to die in poverty and obscurity and they're going to have the best time of it. But they'll die in a gutter or on a tea-stained mattress in a cheap hotel in the tenderloin.
Mind you, the exact same thing may happen to me. It's just going to be slightly more acceptable by society when it does.
But it probably won't. I'm one of these white-collar dad types. I'll die in a different kind of obscurity. There'll be lots of plastic tubing and latex gloves and hypodermic needles when I go. There'll be nurses scrubbing in and docs screaming for 10 mics of epi and the unclotting drugs and they'll charge the paddles a couple times and the oscilloscope will just beep flat and then I'll be dead. They'll bury me and there'll be some crying, some by people who will mostly worry about who's going to pay the bills, and some by people who genuinely liked having me around. People will do stupid things and blame me saying, "He would have wanted it this way," when really, I didn't, or never even thought about it.
But then everyone will go back to work and get on with their lives and I'll go back to not being in this world, which is the way it's been on earth, mostly.
The one thing you have no choice about is what happens after you die. You can leave money and instructions and wills, but after you die, your influence on planet earth has just gone to zero. You have to hope those left behind are going to carry out your last wishes by virtue of their own motivation to either honor your desires, or to get at the monetary carrots you've left in your lawyer's office.
But by definition, you can't do it yourself anymore.
And probably, when you die, if your consciousness still exists somewhere, as I believe it does, you probably care as much about what happens on earth as you do about a movie you've just seen. I think it's like that. While you exit the theater and get into your car, the emotions evoked by the film are fading, and you turn your attention to coffee and pie, or maybe drinks at the "W", or maybe bed with a spouse or new friend, and the whole movie is still there in your brain ready to be replayed when you think about it, but you don't. You've got other things on your mind.
Still I think I'd like my funeral scripted. I'd like my funeral to be a play I've written.
The service should be nondescript, held in a small meeting room at a run-down Holiday Inn off a major interstate. A perfunctory service by a minister, yogi, or priest of a religion I did not practice. Something off-kilter, to make people uncomfortable. To make people wonder, "Did he really believe those things?" To make people think, "Holy shit, he did believe those things."
Coffee and donuts will be served. People from the fertilizer seminar next door will stop in and steal a free donut.
There should be a burial in a busy cemetery off another major highway, preferably under a highway overpass. It should be loud from traffic. People should carry umbrellas and it should be snowing.
There will be some people in attendance nobody knows. Strange women in tears that are rumored to have been my mistresses. Men everyone thinks work for the CIA will talk into their wrists, holding thick sheaves of paper with undecipherable writing. Newspaper reporters will take notes on small spiral bound tablets, and people will wonder if I was a mafia boss. Everyone will wear sunglasses. And the snow will reach the tallest man's ankles.
A meteor will flash by overhead, through the clouds, and most people won't be sure they've actually seen it because it's overcast. No one will say anything about it till months afterward when at a boring holiday party, over holiday drinks one will mention to another, "And there was that light..." and everyone will say, "You saw it, too?"
And then someone will speak up. One of the strange men will cough. One of the unidentified women people think was my mistress will speak up. She will move to a corner of the room with a tear in her eye. On a table will be a picture nobody's looked at. And they won't want to see what she's looking at, but one of the younger people will go over, and then a few of the others will.
In the picture will be me and the strange people nobody knows. We'll be standing at the entrance to an ice cave on Mount Erebus in Antarctica. The date will clearly be some time after my funeral, and I'll be very clearly alive.
I'll be waving to the camera. I'll be heading into the ice cave.
I'll be telling everyone I love them.
"See you all soon," will be what my image seems to say, because everyone who sees it will have a funeral in their future, too.
And then they'll know who all the strange people are.
And at that moment of realization, the live band will hit the stage. The mirror ball will be illuminated by a white spot. Busty women in mini skirts will appear from nowhere and hand out martinis and cosmopolitans. Men in tuxedoes will arrive in stretch limos and invite all the women to dance. And all the people who can't dance -- who never dance at weddings -- will start dancing. Caterers will roll in carts full of the most savory treats anyone has ever seen. There'll be micro brewed beers and chocolate malted milkshakes. Everyone will be sweaty and half drunk and laughing at stupid jokes. Everyone will have someone to gaze deeply into their eyes and go home with. And no one will ever feel they have to do anything they don't want to do, ever again. And everyone will be full of food and drink and happiness and they'll forget all about me and everyone else who has ever died.
On their way home to bed, everyone will be handed a tiny card that says, "Reminder to self: find my own damned ice cave", and an open one-way plane ticket to anywhere on the earth.
And the doormen will say to them, as they're handed their party favors: "If you go to the beach, you must body surf. When you're on the slopes, you must ski the run. When you're in the car, you must hit the gas. When you're on the boat, take the sharpest tack. When you're praying, be a prayer. When you're singing, be a singer. When you die, be a damned great dead guy.
And when you're alive, be as alive as you fucking well can be. Life is for the living. It's all here for you."
Years later, when people mention me, they'll go, "You're kidding, I didn't know he was dead,"
even though they were at my funeral.