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Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Quick Fried to a Crackly Crunch

Well I finally talked Other Bill into going to a free lunch sponsored by the Neptune Society, those guys who have been promoting cheap cremations for the last few decades. All I wanted them to do is tell me how much it ran to toast a dead body, but apparently you can’t be privy to that information unless you set up a visit with a counselor or attend one of these lunch things that are advertised in the paper.

Other Bill never wanted to deal with this. In fact, I had to twist his arm years ago to agree to getting our wills written. He likes to joke about wanting us to die together in a plane crash so no one will find our bodies, or just having wicks inserted in our heads so when one of us stops breathing, all the other has to do is light a match. But reluctantly he went along this time.

I’ve had a long-standing beef with the whole funeral home industry for years which I have previously documented here. Now that funeral homes and cemeteries have gone hi-tech, there is no end to the number of gizmos and gimmicks they will try to get you to sign up for. No one is going to be able to walk up to my final resting place and through the miracle of wifi and global positioning, see my professionally produced (at a huge fee) videography, because my crispy remains will be in some unknown place or at the bottom of some body of water, probably illegally. They won’t be on anyone’s mantle, either.

My feeling on the afterlife is pretty cut and dry; i.e., you’re dead. So why set aside an obscene amount of money for a satin-lined Posturepedic coffin to lie back and rot in? Your spirit, your love, your sense of humor, all the things that people will remember you for are also gone. All that’s left is your decaying vessel, so let’s deal with that as quickly and cleanly as possible and call it a day, shall we?

So we get to this tv-lined sports bar and go to the special event room, where a young Peruvian lesbian greeted us and gave us some paperwork (which didn’t have the cremation price on it). In a few minutes three more men, all older than us, sauntered in. Two of them, who clearly were in their 80’s (and probably not planning on living much longer), started hitting on her. Telling her what a beautiful woman she was. Asking if she was single. She handled it with grace and dignity, because not doing so could easily have cost her a sale. But c’mon, guys. Okay, so it’s not always easy to zero in on a person’s sexual orientation; I’ll give you that. But what did you think your chances were, being a half-century her senior, that after your death discussion that she’d go home, pack a bag and move in with you? 50-50? Not even close. So cut that shit out, for God’s sake. It’s 2016, not the year YOU were born.

One guy in particular was a pain in the ass from the get-go. Besides practically wolf-whistling and making goo-goo eyes at the presenter, he also, instead of sitting at the table set out for him, imposed himself on a kindly French gentleman, who, I suspect, would have rather sat alone.

The guy also gave the waitress a hard time. He wanted a full sandwich and a salad, when the menu option was for just half a sandwich and a salad. The waitress said he could add a salad to his full sandwich for three dollars, but then he played stupid, giving her the “I don’t understand why he gets a sandwich and salad and I have to pay $3 for mine” routine.

Then before the knockout lesbian could barely open the presentation, he started going on and on about how he wasn’t planning on dying, because he was happy just as he was alive.  If there had been a buttered roll on my table, I would have thrown it at him.

So the presentation went along well enough and was moderately interactive, with other Bill and I being the only other two in the room to verbally participate.

The presenter talked about how funeral homes will always try to “upsell you” by preying on your emotional state and talking you into things you don’t need, like a pricier casket or other extras they say your loved one would have wanted. This led to a discussion about pre-planning and making your needs known.

But the thing about the Neptune Society is, there is a base price (and I won’t tell you want it is. Go to your own old man lunch) that requires you to die within a 75 mile radius of your local Neptune Society crematorium. After that, it’s three dollars a mile, just like the $3 side salad that the waitress gave that old fart for free because she was sick of the harassment.

Three dollars a mile. Who knew that dying was like renting a car?

Okay, so we got it. In order for it to be effective, you had to really sign up with the premium account that was $500 more, and then you could die anywhere you wanted to, without incurring any mileage surcharges.

But what really frosted my fine hairs was that both packages came with a “beautiful cherry box” that held a commemorative picture frame and an urn to put your loved one’s ashes in.

If that’s not upselling, I don’t know what is. Before I could ask if it was cheaper to buy it without the made-in-China box and cheesy frame, she said it was all part of the complete package and could not be excluded from the deal.

So then they gave us the price of both versions. The annoying man who wasn’t planning on dying just got up, tossed his napkin on the table, and walked out of the room. His French table partner rolled his eyes, and I gave him a sympathetic look.

The patient presenter chatted with us for a few minutes, and acknowledged that we were a couple even though we didn’t use the secret gay handshake. We said we wanted time to discuss it, even though, for me at least, once she uttered the word, “urn” all bets were off.

One of the hooks to the program was how easy this would make things for your children. At the time of your death all they would have to do is remove your membership card from your wallet, call the toll-free number, and everything would be taken care of. No fuss, no muss. Our presenter said, “What would you rather give them: The card or the phone book so they could start calling funeral homes during their beginning stages of grief?”

I don’t think we’ll need either the card or the phone book. All we’ll need is Google. You can get a non-Neptune direct cremation for around $500. 

We’ll use the savings to pay for a full sandwich and a full salad. And dessert, please.

Photo Via Flickr User Justin Dolske