I go years without one, then three funerals hit in the last month. I was beginning to wonder if, following the second one in as many weeks, a third would follow immediately after. As it turned out, I was lulled into a false sense of security by a quiet week. I’m in the lucky position to be mildly and inadvertently flippant as I didn’t lose anyone myself, but was instead supporting to varying degrees those who did. As per the course of these things, I did start to think about how I was going to cope when the inevitable came along for the people closest to me (likely not very well), but also how when the time came for me, what would need doing.

I really don’t want a funeral.

Or, now that I’ve made the standard and pointless ‘shock & awe’ statement that I’m going to completely undo, I don’t want a normal funeral. Putting aside my ongoing and overstated issues with religion, a lot of it is due to my being really uncomfortable with how death and its ceremonies are often approached. I don’t want people being solemn and depressed and trying to reach for platitudes to wallpaper over my glaring personality flaws. If people are to come together following (or maybe just for) my death, I want them to have a good time.

Dudes, I want a party.

I’ve said this to the Good Herself many times, but I want this in writing so there can be no discussion later about what people think I would have wanted. I want a proper freaking party – banners, poppers and noise-makers, brightly coloured helium balloons, cake and pie, good music, dancing… the whole convivial shebang. People talk about how the funeral is a celebration of a person’s life (which I don’t quite buy when everything is made so dour), but for me it’s about allowing the people around you to cope with the loss. If either are the point, then why have everyone act so solemn?

This isn’t to slight anyone who feels that taking the matter of life and death seriously involves the traditional process, and no slight is meant.  If that’s what you want, go for it. I don’t believe in the existence of an afterlife: I’m vaguely disturbed by the ritual chanting in a standard mass, so the insistence of higher purpose and divine right amped up on grief freaks me right out. A younger, snootier (snottier?) me would rail against opposing views, but as I slip further and further into a state of zen humanism, I find that I’m bored with that kind of confrontation. I get the Other View and will happily accept it if my own is accepted (not tolerated or begrudged) in turn. For many people a party is a weird choice, but since I’m by popular decree a weird person, I think it fits. I’ve lived an often-times ridiculous life, I would prefer to have a ridiculous end to things and have people remember me that way.

That’s why I developed Funeral Bingo.

The rules of Funeral Bingo are simple – as in regular bingo, everyone is provided with a bingo card, but instead of numbers there are themes or words or ideas. Everyone playing has to share stories about me and as words or themes are met the players can tick off the appropriate word. Talking to my old college buddies will get lots of drinking stories or tales of fraught productions, talking to my former housemates will provide Naked Brian stories, talking to pretty much anyone will net a Brian’s Bloody Ego story… There will, of course, be prizes. Said prizes will be amazing.

I keep meaning to build up a playlist for the event, but I keep getting distracted. There are, naturally, a few tracks that must be played, either for meaning, sentimental value or because I really like the song, damn it. Requests must be justified for the playlist to be interrupted, and a track banlist will be in force. The problem is that any slow song runs the risk of depressing people and I want any slow sets that happen during the dancing (because there must be dancing) to be for the making out with of people. Kissing is, I think we can all agree, awesome, and dang it I want to remind people of that when they need it. Death is depressing enough as it is without actively trying to solemnify something which can be cheerful and uplifting. “He may have been an idiot,” I hope they will say, “but he was a fun idiot.”

It should also counter-balance the more serious note: cremation. I have no grand investment in what happens to the meat after the expiry date – if anything is salvageable and can be used to help someone living, then it’s fair game. But there will be something left over and will need to be dealt with. Graves are expensive and take up ever-diminishing real estate. The Good Herself prefers cremation and I would be willing to go along with that with one proviso – whoever goes first has their ashes released from a point of the remaining person’s choosing (presumably rife with symbolism and meaning so I’m thinking The Cliffs of Doom). This location is passed on to the next of kin who will then release the other person’s ashes when the time comes from the same spot so the can play atomic catch-up. The only instance in which this should be ignored is if the opportunity comes up to launch the ashes into space because, come on, it’s space.

Really, the only thing I cannot talk about here are the pranks, because that would give the game away too early. But if you can think of a use for springs and a timer, you’ll get the general idea.

So it will go.

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