The Passing Parade: Cheap Shots from a Drive By Mind

"...difficile est saturam non scribere. Nam quis iniquae tam patiens urbis, tam ferreus, ut teneat se..." " is hard not to write Satire. For who is so tolerant of the unjust City, so steeled, that he can restrain himself... Juvenal, The Satires (1.30-32)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

WHERE THERE'S A WILL: Well, all things being equal, I can now die happy, I’m told, for I have, after much intense familial pestering, made out and signed my last will and testament. The family has been after me for years to make out a will, for reasons I’m sure I don’t want to think about at the moment, and for years I’ve put them off with the same story about not caring about what happens to my stuff after I’m gone; I’ll be dead, what difference will it make to me one way or the other? I always thought that this was a reasonable position, because let’s face reality, a will does absolutely nothing for the person making it out. You can hardly leave all your earthly goods to yourself, even assuming the Hindus and the Buddhists are right about reincarnation, and even if they are, do you really think your relatives would give you your stuff back once they get their hands on it? And don’t even think about your relatives’ complaints about having to pay your death tax; this is most definitely not your problem, if you give the matter any thought; you’ll be dead—it’s not like the taxman can dig you up and go through your pockets looking for the money, can he? And if he does, will you care?

So I have given in to the ceaseless nagging about my not having a will and made one up. Yes, I can now rest in peace assured that the court-appointed legal jackals of the Vampire State will not divvy all my worldly goods and chattels (I did not know I had chattels until I got involved in this whole will business, but apparently I have a whole herd of the things, and me without a Stetson or a six-shooter anywhere on the premises) amongst themselves, leaving my poor family in the streets to beg passersby to take pity on their poverty and give them a pittance for their daily bread. Now if there was some way of making sure my family couldn’t have my stuff either, I’d be a really happy corpse. But there is a benefit to having a will, of course; if nothing else, your will is the last chance you’ll ever have to let those nearest and dearest to you know what lousy bastards you think they are.

Yes indeed, once you’ve passed over to the other side, you don’t have to keep your opinion to yourself for the sake of family peace; you can finally sound off about those mooching deadbeats and get even with them, too. For years they’ve fawned all over you to your face and stabbed you in the back whenever they could, and now, there’s nothing they can do to you except hope that you didn’t find out about them bringing up your unnatural craving for eating loganberries while wearing purple socks all over town. Yes, suck up won’t help them at all now, will it?

Still, I don’t have a lot to give away in the first place. There are my cameras, which are junk, mostly, my car, which is eight years old now, and my house, which I left to the two brothers who don’t want it. On the one hand, though, is the brother who does not want the house but who will not sell it because the house is our childhood home, and on the other hand is the brother who will try to turn the house into a down payment on a Mercedes-Benz before I start to rot in the coffin. This should prove interesting, as well as more than a little gruesome, I think, something like a Eugene O’Neill epic of family dysfunction crossed with a steel cage match starring pro wrestlers and Teamster union organizers with bowie knives and flamethrowers. I’ll be sorry to miss the fireworks, or I would be, if I weren’t already dead when the festivities commence.

For all the equanimity we can bring to family nagging once we are dead, however, for the living, nagging is a never ending annoyance and we must, like caribou diving into lakes of ice water to escape the mosquitoes, do something, anything to get the relatives off of our backs and to buy some psychic peace of mind. So a few weeks ago I hied me hence therefore to the family lawyer’s office here in our happy little burg, there to apportion out my worldly goods. As I mentioned previously, there’s not a whole lot to apportion, but I liked sitting the lawyer’s meeting room for the while I was there. It was a classic lawyer’s meeting room, with the long table and the legal pads and the walls lined with shelves of law books, all of it designed to give the person frightened about giving their collection of priceless 17th century left-handed Albanian accordions, the product of a lifetime of ceaseless work and worry, to their feckless grandchildren confidence in the power and majesty of the law. Then you look at the name of the state on those books, realize that the proscriptions contained within are the product of your very own state legislature, a collection of some of the most incredibly venal and warped minds any state could produce in a year of Sundays, and then you bid good day to one and all, go home, and smash all of your accordions to bits before you let your idiot grandchildren or their moronic lawyers get anywhere near them.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any accordions, Albanian or otherwise, in my house; all I have is the house, which I can hardly burn down with all my stuff and my mother still inside. I suppose I could take the stuff out, but Mom doesn’t want to go, not when she can stay and bug me about my not finding a nice Irish girl and getting married. I thought that the nagging would end once I signed the will, which I did today for the price of three hundred dollars, or a hundred dollars per page, which is more than I’ve ever gotten for writing three pages of anything, but that doesn’t seem to be in the cards now; the pestering has simply moved on to another subject. There ought to be a law against moving pestering from one topic to another, and maybe there is, for all I know, but I don’t think I can afford another three hundred bucks just to get the thing enforced. Life is like that sometimes…maybe I’ll feel differently about it all when I’m dead. I can only hope.

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