Box Me Up

woodsIt’s not hard to think about death while visiting my parents. My dad brings death into every conversation on any topic. Now, Teddy Ruxpin was developed by a guy who was beaten to death by a tribe of aboriginal tribesmen near Camden. Or he punctuates sentences with death. John Smith, he was killed in 1993, used to sell Hallmark cards to orphans. They are also dead. 

In my early forties, I seem to be well on the way to this. I find myself having the middle-aged conversation more and more. Pain. Changing times. Active notification of the fact that time flies. My back hurts. I remember when this was a rollerskating rink. Wow, was that twenty years ago? What’s your retirement plan? 

It’s really only a matter of time before I start having the old person’s conversations, which will (I have observed) involve parts of my body that are falling apart and dead people. Part of this will be my deliverance to the next world, or, at the very least, my reassignment as worm food.

If asked about their post-death plans, many might suggest cremation or traditional burial. Some might, before you slowly back away, tell you that they are going to be carried away on a space ship. There’s always donating one’s body to science, but the thought of medical students poking at my giblets and making fun of my pancreas for a decade is distasteful. I’ve always been sensitive about my pancreas.

Depending on one’s culture, one might be put in a stone tower to be eaten by vultures. Or they might be put on a boat with their armor and belongings, sent out to sea, and set afire. If they are Hunter S. Thompson they might be fired from a cannon.

While those might seem a bit odd, we are at a time in human development and culture in which outside-the-box thinking is enormously celebrated. (I mean, I’ve have recently seen a dead cat made into a drone). This thinking, along with creativity, and desires to preserve the environment and cash in on the fashionable art of death, has already led to several more options for leaving this world than our grandparents had.

If you want a modern version of the Viking sea burial, there is the option of firing a shot (.25 oz) of your ashes out into space for $3000 or so. In that limited amount of space, you won’t be able to bring your shield and armor. Also, if you’d want to be like the A-Space Crowd, you can pay a little more ($10,000) and go to the moon or to deep space. Boldly going, evidently, where no shot of ashes has gone before.

If you were a failed musician or a hipster in your pre-dead days, you could turn yourself into a vinyl record. No shit. And Vinyly will press your ashes into a vinyl record and allow you to record a message from beyond the grave. No doubt I would use my recorded time to tell my students to stop plagiarizing or my cat to get off something. If you are a hipster, this is the choice for you, as you will be doing something before it’s cool and will almost certainly end up in a thrift store.

If efficiency and usefulness are important to you, here are two options. William Warren sells Shelves for Life, which is a shelving unit you use throughout your life for normal bits like books and pictures. But when you die it disassembles into a coffin. This means you bring your favorite shelving with you for eternity, and maybe even find that bag of weed you hid there one drunken Saturday night.

There is also Nadine Jarvis, who will make pencils out of your ashes (240 pencils is what the human body has in it. I guess fat people make more). Your pencil-self comes in a handsome wooden box (I guess a tiny coffin) and you can be accessed one at a time. There is a pencil sharpener on the side and as your loved ones sharpen you into a conduit for notes, shopping lists, and the SATS, your ashes are redeposited into the box. When your 240 sticks are done, your loved ones keep the box as a memorial with your remaining ashes. This is damned creative, but I don’t know if I want anyone gnawing on my hindbits while thinking about veggies or calculus.

For those that plan on being dead in an ecofriendly manner, here are two good options. Infinity Mushroom is a method being developed in which fungi consumes human tissue, hair, blood, and utilizes the nutrients in human tissue while benefiting from fungi’s natural ability to remediate industrial toxins in soil. As a lifelong and vocal hater of mushrooms, I both want to force mushrooms to eat me and fear that I will somehow turn into one of the mushroom people. Either way, it’s total irony. As a side note, in the Czech Republic picking mushrooms is a national pastime, and I can only imagine that one day this hobby and this method of burial will have an unforgettable run in.

My favorite option has got to be the Pod Burial. This method of burial involves placing the body in a biodegradable pod in the fetal position and then burying it. Just above your pod is a young tree or a seed. The tree’s roots will eventually connect themselves to your pod and you would nourish a tree with your corpse.

This is good for the environment, reasonable, and, as the site boasts, would mean visiting “memory forests” instead of ugly cemeteries. Interesting, yes. However, anyone who has read Dante’s Inferno (or John Connolly’s Infernals) knows exactly what this “memory forest” would look like. Thank you, but I am no harpy.

After all of the investigating, I think I’d prefer my buddy Jake’s desired burial method. Stick my ashes in some snowballs and throw me at people I didn’t like when I was alive.

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