Is It Over Yet?

January16/ 2000

…. I paid my sincere tribute to Kay Yow within 24 hours of her passing last weekend.  My remarks today are not about Kay Yow AT ALL …… but about our national preoccupation with mourning.   I call it Princess Diiiiiiiiiiiii Forever.

My mamma said about her girdle …. “It was fine all day until around 3:00 PM when all of a sudden IT WAS TIME to take it off”.  One knew when that time came.  I am that way when someone of prominence passes away and, based on their sphere of influence, that sphere goes into Public Mourning Overload.  About the 2nd day I’m over it but it seems America can’t get enough of “mourning” It’s become like Law and Order on TV ….. you can’t get away from it.   Mariska Hargitay is much hottier than Princess Di in my opinion.

In the “old days” the only overload you worried about when someone died was too many tuna casseroles.   The local bark patrol would notify everyone in the church women’s guild that Henry’s ticker finally wore out ….. and forty-three ladies would grab pyrex casseroles dishes and whip up tuna casseroles for “visitors to the home” to nibble on.  I’m talking the homemade kind with crumbled potato chips on top.   Tuna casserole was the designated funeral food in my hometown.  Deviled eggs were #2.  A country ham always magically appeared too.

Getting the pyrex casserole dishes back to their rightful owners was never an issue.  It was like musical chairs (or NBA coaches) they just keep circulating.  If enough of your friends died you eventually got your casserole dish back.   I once used the analogy of “being passed around like Madonna on her prom night” but that probably is inappropriate in this case.  At least that “Madonna”.

Grief Counseling is one of a long list of occupations for which I am uniquely unsuited.   Pastry chef and “guvmint employee” being too others.  I do appreciate why there are “funeral groupies” who can’t get enough of “paying our respects to ______”.   Most folks spend a normal day being overty incivil to 97% of the people they encounter.  Cutting them off in traffic, barging ahead of them in lines, not RSVPing, not sending thank-you notes, and saying horrible things about them in text messages to the town gossip …… then one of them dies ….. and they fall all over themselves in dark-suited grief complete with alligator tears. ….. the dearly departed woulda rather you returned his freakin’ chain saw than sent that dopey floral spray.

In today’s out-of-control media world, nothing can eat up website and TV time like a celeb-funeral with a cathedral full of dignitaries trying to mouth the words to hymns that most normal people actually know by heart.   Depending upon the Q rating of the guest of honor ….. the primary hymn gets sung by either Celine Dion or the choir director’s daughter, Estelle….. or any degree of faux-celebrity hymn singer that is available.   Former Miss Whatevers do a lot of funeral hymn singing but hardly ever while wearing their pageant swimsuits.  For mine, I want Phyllis George singing Mammie’s Little Baby Loves Shortin’ Bread wearing an Esther Williams one-piece and a pair of Candies.


Who was lead singer at Princess Di’s Massive Mass?


Technology has taken over funerals and overload mourning like it has everything else.  What’s a decent celebrity mourning without the ubiquitous “video tribute”.  The larger the jumbotron to project it on the better.   Since announcement of Teddy Kennedy’s brain tumor, quilters have been busy knitting his giant video tribute screen that will stretch from Boston’s John Hancock Building to “that bridge on Martha’s Vineyard”. (The obligatory Chappaquidick reference is a rule, not a suggestion!).  The Ted Kennedy Mourning Month should be THE Funeral of The Millenium ….. unless Oprah chokes on a chicken bone and goes first.

CNBC, MSNBC, CNN and NBC have promised 24/7 time blocks of “at least” two weeks to make America gag cramming All Teddy All Week down our throats.  Teddy gets to pick out nine sports arenas, four interstate highways, two airports, and eighteen strip joints to bear his name, and “any Thursday in March” as “his day”.    If Maya Angelou or Jimma Carta happens to die the same week Teddy does, they can share an entire week ….. and maybe get the ultimate …… “their very own month” during which every public school must celebrate whatever rewritten history can be whipped up about’em. …… King Tut was buried with less bombast and bloviation than we’ll get when Teddy crokes.

Will neighbors near the Hyannisport “compound” bring over tuna fish casseroles for the occasion?  I bet they never see those pyrex dishes again.  Ya think “Arnold” likes the crumbled potato chip topping like we all do? …… How many outbuildings do you need to be “a compound”.   Is it a matter of how high your fence is?  We have a toolshed and a three rail picket fence across our back property line …..  can it be “the BobLee Compound”?

I can’t think of a local figure more deserving of tribute than Kay Yow.  She actually WAS as genuinely nice and caring as all the tributes say.  I thought Walt Rabb was a fine fellow too. ….. and, of course, Senator Jesse Helms.   Remember that Helms tribute?  Sure you do …… Those fine folks at The News & Observer made a week-long front page celebrity out of a flaming jackass who refused to lower the state flag in front of his dinky little office.   As my mamma mighta said “some folks just weren’t raised right”.

At Mamma’s funeral I had the minister start ten minutes early knowing the irrelevant relatives were planning a grand entrance to make a scene.  I’ve delivered four eulogies in the past twenty years.  For a boss, two friends, and a guy named Marvin who said I was the funniest sumbitch he’d ever met and figured it would be a hoot.  It was.

If you would like BobLee to deliver your eulogy ….. there’s no charge, but I do get first dibs on the tuna casserole.


  Did you think this was going to be Part Two with FloydTurbo?  No, that will be next unless, of course, Oprah does choke on that chicken bone.

Virus Alert ….. If you get an e-mail about a networking service called “TAGGED” ….. DELETE IT ASAP.   Muey mallo!

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