That Was The Life That Was
Lay me to rest at the chapel in the Cleveland airport, I want my funeral there. It’s no matter that I’m Jewish — they welcome all denominations. When one is caught up in the hustle – when one is a modern fanatic on the go; when one is on the move physically, financially, and spiritually – one can’t afford to be picky about his house of worship, about where the light shines from. The lack of bells doesn’t matter — we’ve got the constant rush of jets and 747s taking off, ringing an industrial chime in harmony with all those fallen prostrate on the tarmac.
I want, standing at the entrance way to the chapel, a kid I passed once on a street in Copenhagen. He was wearing a baseball cap, blue jeans, and a leather jacket. A giant patch was sewn on the back of the coat. It read “rock and roll”. I want him to greet mourners with a broken English “hello” so they can see the flash in his eye. “Are you ready to accept rock and roll into your life?” he will ask you in all seriousness, though the twinge of an accent will make the question seem “cute” — as you will later describe it to friends. “This is Mecca,” he will add, not seeing the humor in the situation.
You will want to ask him “can rock and roll possibly save the world?” Will he understand the rhetoric? Will he know what you mean by that… will you? Please, if you do have to say something like that – and I don’t doubt and completely understand that you will – please let it slide. Don’t push it any further. For me.
If you’d like, you can let the Dane speak at the service — though I imagine you won’t want to and he’ll be busy looking at his watch. I’m sure you’ll be itching to get out of there. After all, you probably will be going straight to the chapel from the plane. I was never much for formalities, anyway. Get it over quickly. Get to the fun stuff.
I want my wake on the observation deck. Lead a funeral procession sounding with joyous brass past the commuters, a figure eight through the concourse and conveniently located shipping mall. Place the figure eight on its side and walk infinite paths. At the center, where the line crosses itself, is the lounge where I saw her once, Belle, forever defining the place for me. She was there, near the chapel, like a familiar comforting song on a bad radio station.
As you pass through the terminal, past Starbucks carts and mini-Victoria’s Secrets, be on the look out for her – not literally, of course. I don’t expect her to be there. Look for a song, the song. As you do so, while walking, have somebody fictional paged. This was always a great way to see if a character’s name was convincing or not. If I asked for somebody to be paged and got a weird look from the person at the information desk, the character’s name was immediately scrapped.
I had Belle paged once. The lady at the desk smiled gently at me and told me “good luck finding her, such a beautiful name.” I winked. I didn’t mean to.
On your last pass through, buy momentos at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame gift shop — 10% off everything from the “Psychedelic Era”. Treat the Danish guy to a tee-shirt and tell him it’ll all be over soon. Burn the items in effigy overlooking the runway: Jim Morrison tee-shirts, chocolate CDs, Hendrix postcards, and (saint of saints) Garcia ties…
Release the ashes, mine and theirs, to the winds. Let them enter the propeller compartments of a Boeing preparing for take-off, going to Hawaii… a private plane heading for Tucson… a carrier jet to the Congo… a cargo vessel bound for western Canada… send me to all of those places.
Jesse Jarnow can get anything he wants at Alice’s Restaurant. He occasionally makes his home in Oberlin, Ohio.