Friday, September 4, 2009

Why the OPEN MIC should be banned at funerals

The practice of having an open mic time at funerals for people to share stories about the "dearly departed" should be banned by law.  OK, maybe that's a little harsh so let's make it a misdemeanor rather than a felony.  At the very least, the family should be required to warn potential funeral attendees of the plan for an open mic time by including it in the obit and posting signs at the entrance to the parking lot where the service will be held so that if you didn't see the obit, you can save yourself at the last minute and just keep driving.

Maybe it seemed like a good idea the first time that someone did it but it's evolved into something really funky.  People just morph into an alter ego when they have a microphone in their hands.  Folks who have no business speaking to a crowd are suddenly empowered, no driven, to take their turn at the microphone.  Then there's the guilt thing: "If I don't get up and say something about MawMaw or Uncle Goober, everybody will think that I'm an ungrateful little creep and I'll never get invited to another family reunion. There'll be no more of Aunt Bubble Butt's banana puddin' or fried chicken for me.  Quick!  Think of something to say."  

Here are some of the common personalities that I've seen emerge when a microphone is placed in their hands:

The Comedian:  A humorous story about the deceased can add some needed levity to a normally sad occasion.  The problem is that people who are known to be terrible story-tellers seem to think that with a mic in the hands, they have been newly gifted with the talent of comedy.  Their stories are almost always painfully long and replete with details not crucial to the story or punch-line.  You expect them to close with, "You've been a great crowd.  Tip your waiter generously and I'll be here all week."

The Host: This is the newly appointed (and normally self-appointed) matriarch/patriarch of the family.  He or she likes to speak "on behalf of the family".  Hey, if you could never get elected to public office where you actually do represent a sizable group of people, this is the next best thing!  

The Weeper:  This is the person that sobs through every sentence he or she tries to speak and eventually has to be seated so that someone can come comfort them.   Funny how the weeper can use a few amps from a sound  system to make the funeral all about them. 

The Historian: This is usually the person who claims to have known the deceased the longest and is by default the expert on his or her life.   Their role is to tell you things about this person that you have never heard (perhaps because they never really happened). Ahhhh, there's such power and satisfaction in creating history!

The "I have no boundaries" speaker:  This is person who can't discern between a church and a bar.  What might be acceptable to say in one setting is not always acceptable to say in another.  Their comments are usually peppered with colorful language.  As an example, I recently heard an IHNB speaker affectionately refer to his dearly departed as a turd as he patted the coffin and took his seat. Larry the Cable Guy is probably a IHNB speaker.  "Lord, forgive me and bless the pygmies in Africa  . . . Git-r-done." 

I know that you have some funny Open Mic stories from funerals that you've attended . . . how about sharing them with the rest of us in the comments section?

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