Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Laughing at a Funeral

Damn You Simpsons!
Entry for "Service," this week's Single Frame Stories Challenge.

This week's Single Frame Stories entry is based on a true story. Not one I'm proud of. Something that still makes me cringe fifteen years after the fact.

I'm not a churchgoer. Just weddings and funerals. This particular funeral was for a co-worker’s stillborn baby. Sad. Truly sad. The service was held at one of those modern suburban mega-churches. The bereaved had been very active in the congregation. The football field size parking lot was packed.

It started out as one might expect. Prayers. Sermons. Heartfelt speeches by friends and family. Although I wasn’t comforted by assurances that the baby was in heaven with Jesus, the sincere love expressed by community members was heartwarming. It was all going well until five middle aged guys with matching suits and haircuts walked onto the stage to do a song.

Damn. I felt a flashback coming on. Not an acid trip. A Simpson’s episode. The acapella quintet started singing an uptempo gospel song. Right out of the fifties. Complete with a doo-wop bass singer. I began to lose it, struggling to suppress the maniacal laughter that threatened to burst into the mourning hall.

I stole a quick glance at my wife for some grounding. Bad idea. She must have seen the episode too and was also fighting for control. We cast our eyes down, gritted our teeth and covered our faces. We prayed for the performance to stop before we embarrassed ourselves and ruined the moment for the five hundred other people who were clearly moved, swaying their arms in born-again ferver.

No luck. It went on and on. Verse after verse. Chorus after chorus. Jamming every stereotypical Sha Na Na riff in the book. The absurdity of their white bread unconsciously retro exuberance for a glorious heaven was killing us. Finally, they stopped. The service concluded. We snuck off to our car.

I hope that if anyone noticed our choked back giggles, contorted red faces and tear stained eyes, they thought it was due to cathartic grief. Maybe it was.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Don't worry, you're not the first it's happened too.

Classic Mary Tyler Moore scene: