Memorial Day, say Og and Ug
Well, it’s time for another holiday post. We didn’t actually know it was a holiday weekend until we picked up our load in Philadelphia on Friday and the guard there wished us a happy holiday. Figured out from there that it must be Memorial Day weekend.
I don’t know much about Memorial Day. I could look up some info, but as is typical, that seems like way too much effort. Besides, Memorial Day and its accompanying weekend are clearly all about heading to a river/lake/ocean of choice, riding around on some floatable device/craft, while consuming large quantities of alcoholic beverages.
My maternal grandmother, as I recollect, believed Memorial Day was about honoring the dead. She would buy flowering plants (complaining all the while about the outrageous prices the florist was charging), take them to the graves of her dearly departed (complaining that the cemetery staff had done a lousy job of mowing and weeding), stand for a few moments regarding the various monuments and gravestones (I don’t even want to know what she was thinking during those moments), then head back home pleased with having done her duty. You might think she would have had more fun had she taken the drunken float trip option on Memorial Day, but you would be mistaken.
I once knew a lady who, with her sister, had a large number of deceased relatives which the sisters felt the need to honor during Memorial Day weekend. Every year they would order a number of small, hand-held flower arrangements, a number which only grew as time passed. Eventually, they had so many graves to visit in so many different cemeteries that they developed a new system of honoring the dead. They simply drove through the cemetery, got the car as close as possible to the loved one’s grave, flung a bundle of flowers out of the window in the general direction of the grave, then pealed off to the next site. I have long suspected there may have been a bit of Memorial Day alcoholic spirits involved in their method, but I have no actual proof.
I am not at home to honor my dead, nor can I head to a nearby body of water and drink myself silly. Therefore, I propose some Memorial Day honors of a different sort.
I think we should spend some time thinking about the first people to discover the absoluteness of death, their own inevitable mortality. I can see it now …
* * * * * * * * * *
Two hairy, hunched humanoids sit together, next to a river winding its way through the African savannah. They munch a couple of freshly snagged, raw fish. A bit of dinner conversation begins.
Og: Mmmm, good fish.
Ug: I’d say so. Nothing like fresh fish.
Og: It’d be better if it were lightly grilled.
Ug: Perhaps, but there hasn’t been a fire around here in forever, not since that big lightening storm.
Og: There’s never a good fire when you need it.
Ug: We should do something about that. Maybe we could make lightning.
Og: Sure, and while we’re at it, we could make a long pole that will cause all the fish in the river to leap into our hands whenever we want.
Ug: You know, sarcasm isn’t a good look on you.
Because Og cannot think of an appropriate comeback, they eat in silence for a few minutes. A strange look passes over Ug’s hairy face.
Ug: This fish we’re eating … it’s dead.
Og finds no reason to comment to such an obvious statement. He spits out a fish bone, instead.
Ug: You ever notice how lots of things die?
A bit concerned about the inanity of the conversation, Og wonders if Ug has gotten hold of a bad fish. He simply grunts a reply and gives Ug’s fish a long, suspicious look.
Ug: Do some things not die? I mean, does everything die, eventually?
Completely put out with Ug’s denseness, Og snorts.
Og: Of course everything dies, eventually. Nothing’s forever, blah blah blah.
Ug ponders this statement for a moment, then his protruding jaw drops.
Ug: Hey, Og. If everything dies, does that mean we’re going to die, too?
Og begins to speak, then suddenly stops, looks confused, then horrified. His fish drops from his hairy hands to the ground at his hairy feet.
Og: Oh no … ohhhhh … we’re going to die.
Ug: I know. That’s exactly what I was just thinking. How did I not see this before? How could I have been so blind? Think of all the time I’ve wasted doing stupid things like chasing rhinos and grooming nits off your back. I should have been finding a mate and having babies …
Og lowers his brow ridges, giving Ug a menacing look.
Og: I don’t want to think about this death stuff. I’m happier not knowing. We need to forget we ever had this conversation.
Ug: I don’t see how that’s possible. Knowing about death has changed everything. Just everything … we can’t forget now.
Og stews for a few moments, then finally sighs and picks up his fallen fish, brushing off the dust and grass. After a thoughtful bite, he looks up at Ug.
Og: You know what, Ug?
Og: You’re a real son of a bitch.
* * * * * * * * * *
And thus, paradise was truly lost. And in some way which I have no desire to explain, Memorial Day was born.
So here’s to you, Og and Ug, long since dead and decomposed — thanks for Memorial Day. Though, really, it would have been better if you had just kept your mouths shut.
Happy Memorial Day, everyone. Hope you had a great weekend.