I'm giving myself the creeps

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I started not to write this article. It's about cemetery plots. This is only my third sentence, but I've already got the creeps.

When I was a kid, the old folks used to gather and talk about their cemetery plots. I would leave the room. When I returned, they had usually progressed to the fire on Judgment Day. I would leave the room again.

"Where is your plot, Lettie?" one of the old folks would ask another.

"On the knoll."

"Not much shade up there."

The dialogue would continue, "It's peaceful, though, and I overlook the front of the church. I'm under the oak tree, next to Rhoda Able."

"Won't it be cold in the wintertime?"

"I'm wearing my wool suit."

"The gray one?"

"Gray with black checks."

"You'll be pretty as a speckled pup under a red wagon, if you don't break out."

"Why should I break out?"

"Wool. Rhoda Able wore wool. You know she broke out something awful."

"How do you know that?"

"Her sister Lizzie told me. Lizzie's on the hill next to me. We're wearing cotton prints."

I can take almost anything else, dandruff, roaches in the cabinets, your last proctoscope examination, but not cemetery plots. Cemetery plots are personal, like your underwear size. And deliver me from advertisements about cemetery plots and their accompanying paraphernalia. Classified ads in the newspaper sell plots like used cars: Westview - 4 graves. Terrace B, shaded, curbside. Reasonable. Leaving state, quick sale.

What's so important about being "curbside?" You're going to catch a bus? Another ad caught my eye the other day: Dawn Memorial, (2) plots with vaults, markers and perpetual maintenance. Must sell. Need money.

That's obvious. Anybody needing money bad enough to hock his own burial vault and marker is one broke dude.

Television commercials for cemetery plots are even worse. There was the one I borrowed from to begin this column. We started not to make this commercial, the announcer would open. And for good reason. It stunk. But the Deep Six Burial Co. wants you to plot now for what the future holds for all of us. Don't be left out in the cold when that time comes. You and your loved ones will be eternally grateful you acted now. I would be eternally grateful if I never saw that commercial again.

Some things simply shouldn't be hand sold. Cemetery plots head the list. The announcer is somber slick. The music is sleepy-soft. The plan is "pay now, die later." Any day I expect a commercial for cemetery plots with a singing jingle: "Pay just $5.95 while you're alive so you won't get gypped when you need a crypt."

I admit I'm easily spooked when it comes to this matter. And I admit I'm in the same mortal boat with everybody else. I will in fact need a place to lay me down for the ages. But I don't want to be reminded of that unsettling fact as I sit in my own living room. Among other things it is depressing and causes me to break out like Rhoda Able. Rest her woolly soul.

Elroy Riggs