Thursday, October 27, 2011

You shall not pass!

W. C. Fields once said, "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There's no point in being a damn fool about it." In other words, I didn't win the writing contest. Actually, scratch that. In the spirit of full disclosure, I epically failed it. Of the four judges who reviewed my submission, the kindest comment was, "The best part of your entry was your cover letter." And while I wanted to reply, "Be fruitful and multiple" (but not in those words), I went to a local cemetery instead and cried. Because, let's be honest, where else can you weep and no one thinks it's odd?

Now… at this part of the story, you need to know two things before we can continue. One, this cemetery is very old. And two, the part of it that I love the most is quite secluded. It has sprawling family plots with magnificent Oak trees and the occasional bench. The good news is that it’s the perfect place for a pity party. The bad news is that this perfect place is full of “loops.” In other words, the roads to these family plots all have semi-private circular driveways. Which normally isn’t a problem, unless you’re sitting in your car… crying… and a funeral party arrives… and blocks you in.

Yes. You read that correctly. I was sitting… in my car… crying… when a hearse and several limousines showed up and blocked the driveway’s entrance and exit. You see, when I pulled in, I was so lost in thought that I hadn’t noticed the SIX FOOT HOLE IN THE GROUND that was immediately to the left of my car door. In fact, I hadn’t noticed much of anything until it was too late. At which point, approximately twenty-five people were standing there staring at me and wondering who the hell I was. And, while I don’t know the protocol for said event, I’m pretty sure what was going through my head wasn’t it:
  • Silently join them and let them wonder if I was the deceased’s friend/mistress/illegitimate child.
  • Stay in my car and let them wonder if I was the deceased’s friend/mistress/illegitimate child.
  • Get out of my car and explain that I wasn’t the deceased’s friend/mistress/illegitimate child.
You know... they say that “People's number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Therefore, to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you're better off in the casket than doing the eulogy….” unless you’re a funeral crasher. That must be, by far, the worst of the three options.

At any rate, as I sat there, refusing to dignify my presence to strangers, simultaneously facing my mortality and my failure, I remembered Tolkien again. Only this time, I didn’t hear Gandalf. I heard Gimli, “Certainty of death, small chance of success... What are we waiting for?” I guess another writing contest, but who knows. When I told my mother that night, she only said, “Everyone fails, but not everyone keeps going. Make a choice.” I think I’m still deciding. Til then, talk to you later.

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