Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
To cease upon the midnight with no pain.
Like John Keats, I’ve been thinking about ceasing and expiring a lot these days. After some twenty-five years spent successively at school, college and university, I ceased to be a proper student. It’s not that I’ve become improper. But I handed in my dissertation and am waiting for the board of aldermen to pretend they’ve read it and put me on trial for it. It’s called the dissertation defence. I have also ceased to be a usable workforce at my department. Since I no more figure as a regular student, they would have to pay taxes for my work. That clearly wouldn’t pay off. Now that I’m irregular, I’m paying my taxes myself. That doesn’t pay off either.
Also, as to expiring, the milk in the fridge expired. It brought about a deeply metaphysical experience when I went out with the milk carton to put it in the bin. Otherwise I’m not going out, in the sense of being romantically involved, with a carton. Unless… Forget it. Hand in hand with the milk carton, I went past a somewhat randomly parked black van in the street. Who would paint a van black, I was thinking, it looks like a hearse! Then I noticed the golden lettering on the driver’s door. In this case, mission accomplished, it was an actual hearse that looked like hearse.
Though I’m dead inside, I’m not comfortable around death. Still, I take perverse delight in morbidity, so I examined the van carefully. I suspected it could be undercover cops or a disguised armoury on wheels. I think I watch too much TV. The back door of the hearse was gaping open to confirm that it was, indeed, a hearse. Two narrow metal trays were protruding from the back of it. The dead must be extremely uncomfortable lying in there.
Talking about the dead reminds me of my dad. He’s not dead, but dad sounds like dead. I also used to believe that my father was an undertaker. That’s what happens in beginners English classes at school when one translates the phrase private businessman from my language into English literally. I’m about to become this kind of undertaker myself. I wish I had paid more attention when my father taught me about tunnelling. Not the tunnel digging kind but the fraud kind. While it is somewhat illegitimate, it was a legitimate part of the post-communist culture when I was a kid. I naturally deny any knowledge of such activities.
Another part of my childhood was the advent of commercial TV and of music videos. In keeping with the cheerful note of this post, let’s watch one of the most popular music clips in my country when I was growing up. It might explain a thing or two. It’s called ‘The Undertaker’ and bemoans the arrival of cremation, which takes away jobs from honest grave diggers. It features the characters of an undertaker as undertaker and an undertaker as a private businessman. Here you go.