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We Burn Old People

Because my parents have a strange sense of humor, when I was 12 years old, I was sentenced sent to an English boarding school. One minute, I’m living in New York City. Sixty seconds later, I’m stuck in a real-life Midsomer.

Let me tell ya…. Just because the two nations share a common language doesn’t mean that we’re the same.

As October rolled around, I anxiously anticipated Halloween. My mind was filled with thoughts of costumes, scary movies, and copious amounts of candy. My excitement, however, wasn’t shared by my fellow inmates students. In its place, I noticed a sinister plan developing.

I discovered that my school was filled with bigoted pyromaniacs.

Disgusted and terrified, I ignored the prohibitively expensive overseas phone rates and called my parents.


Mother: “Hello?”

Me: “Mommy? I hate this place. I want to come home.”

Mother: “I understand that you’re homesick but….”

Me: “No! That’s not it. These people are insane. They’re planning to burn old people.”


Mother: “What?”

Me (stifling tears): “No one cares about Halloween. Instead, all they talk about is setting fire to old folks. And it’s not just one or two people. Everyone here hates senior citizens. Each grade is building a fake old person in order to burn it later.”


Mother: “Old people?”

Me: “YES. OLD FOLKS. That what they say. ‘We’re going to burn old folks.’ I don’t want to do it. I just want to wear a costume and watch the Great Pumpkin special.”

Mother: “Let me ask your father about this.”


Mother: “Honey? I think you’re confused. They’re not going to burn ‘old folks’. They’re going to burn ‘Guy Fawkes‘.”

Me (now screaming): “Who the hell is he and what does he have to do with Halloween?”

The rest of the conversation is a bit of a blur. However, I can still remember my mother laughing hysterically.

In case you’re wondering, I’ve never been able to live down this incident. Proof? My father gave me this cake yesterday.

May your Halloween be filled with fun, family, and inflammable old folks.


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How do you commemorate a human life?  How can you pay your respects and honor someone you loved?  Let’s see…  You could build a majestic mosemleum to stand as a (pardon the pun) concrete reminder of the dearly departed.  Perhaps, a living memorial is more appropriate and you name a child after the long-gone loved one.  Or, you could take Grandma’s ashes and compress them into a crappy diamond.  Wait.  What?

Out there in the big, bad and really, really disturbing world there are companies that, for a few thousand dollars, will take someone’s remains and magically transform them into a gemstone.  I like to refer to this as the “Ash, Smash and Cash” process.

The companies say they use a “pressurized process” to accomplish this feat.  I’m not falling for that old excuse.  I’m pretty sure they really use sorcery, naked dances under a new moon and puppy blood.  However, in all fairness, I’ve used those three things for lots of stuff myself.

I realize I’m probably a bit more neurotic than the average bear but….  this whole idea seems fraught with problems.  Very awkward problems.

Do I really want to wear my grandmother on my hand?  Clearly, I’ll never use that hand again for wiping.  Or, if I’m “in flagrante delicto” with someone, all action will have to cease while I remove Gran from my finger.  There are certain activities in which she shouldn’t be included.

What if the stone is stolen?  Gran is now in the possession of a tweaking scumbag.  Maybe he let’s his crack-whore girlfriend wear Gran for a little while.  Great.  Gran now gets a front-row seat to “Junkies Gone Wild”.  Of course, that’s before Gran is traded in a back alley for crystal meth… a different type of rock, altogether.

Eventually, Gran ends up in a pawn shop being “fingered” by strangers on a regular basis.  She gets more action in death than she ever did while she had a pulse.  Hmm….  Maybe it isn’t such a bad idea, after all.

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