IS HE DEAD OR IS HE DEAD, DEAD?

Growing
up, every funeral I attended the deceased appeared in a closed coffin,
more than likely wrapped in a shroud. That's because in the Jewish
religion they believe that even in life, if your wore Issac Mizrahi made FOR
TARGET while all your friends ran around in Prada made FOR PRADA, when
it comes to death, everyone is equal, meaning, poor, like me.  Yay!  Finally! 

My
parents recently attended the funeral of one of their Christian
neighbors and were describing to me how weird it was to see the dead
guy sitting up, looking so, well, ALIVE. 

It reminded me of
when I went to the funeral of the husband of my piano teacher. He was
82 years old when he died and I remember walking into the viewing room
and seeing all these elderly people standing around talking, as if it
were just your average, everyday cocktail party where the dress code
was black attire and you had to carry at least one crumpled tissue in your hand.

Since
I had never actually seen a dead person outside of the ER, I stood by
the casket, staring, fascinated, because I'm telling you the guy was
NOT DEAD.  He looked amazing; better even then when I'd seen him last.
He had color in his cheeks, he was smiling, he looked rested and
relaxed. I can't tell you how much I kept picturing myself giving him a
little poke, you know, to wake him up so I could be the one to tell
everybody:

JESSICA:  Good news every one, Bill's not dead. He was just napping. 

and then I imagined I'd give Bill that old punch in the arm and tell him:

JESSICA: Good one Bill.  Now, tell me, how the hell did you hold your breath for so long?

Then,
of course, Bill would step out of the coffin, he and I would have a
good laugh and everybody would then go out to lunch together with Bill
and my piano teacher insisting on treating me because Bill was so
stubborn, he would've willingly have let himself be buried alive rather
then have to reveal his trickery and his wife would have been widowed
years before it was time.....

In the end, I believe what I ended
up doing was turning my back to everyone and glaring right into Bill's
eyes, thinking, after a while he would surely feel me staring at him
and eventually would wake up, maybe say "hello" or ask me to direct him
to the men's room. However, after what everyone
some would believe was a bit too long a period of time, I finally
convinced myself that Bill really was a goner.

After, I first vowed to
get the name of his make-up artist and then went over to my piano
teacher, offered her my condolences, stood around waiting to see if
there were going to be serving any hors-dourves and then left when I
realized that there wasn't even a Diet Coke anywhere in the entire
building, never mind a handful of gorgeous, wannabe male actors in
their 20's who walk around day after day with hope in their eyes and a
tray in their hands, asking people "would you like a napkin with that?"

Interestingly enough, I've noticed as I drive around town, it
doesn't just take dying to make us all equals anymore, a recession
seems to be doing the trick just as well, don't you think?

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