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  • Jerry Della Femina

WOULD YOU RATHER BE BURIED OR CREMATED?



-This is a re-run of a column that ran 3 years ago…


The first thing my wife, the beautiful Judy Licht, said this morning was, “Would you rather be buried or cremated?”


“I want to be frozen,” was my sleepy answer. “I want them to bring me back when they figure out how to bring dead people back to life.”


“Frozen?” she said, sounding disappointed. “You want to be on cold, cold ice for God-knows-how-long?”


“I want to be frozen,” was my testy answer, “and if you would be kind enough to dress me in a heavy sweater and one, maybe two pairs of woolen socks, I would appreciate it. And why the hell did you ask me that? Do you know something that I don’t know?”


“Don’t you remember that discussion we were all having yesterday at dinner?”


“Oh, now I remember. I found it to be a very creepy subject. Notice I didn’t say a word.”


Truth is I have always wanted to be frozen when I kick the bucket but, frankly, given the lousy service we get from the electric companies, I would never leave my frozen stiff body in New York state.


Let’s face it, who wants to be the victim of a brownout or a blackout the minute the temperature goes above 80 degrees, or the minute we have some 10-mile-an-hour winds. I can just see myself propped up in our freezer, next to the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, stiff as a board, when the lights go out and Judy starts running around screaming, “We must find some ice – Jerry is defrosting again!”


“OK,” snarled Judy, “I will freeze you with your (censored) iPad in your hands, your (censored) iPod (censored) earphones in your ears, your (censored) iPhone in your pocket, a (censored) television set on, and any other electronic crap you insist on sleeping with at night.”


So now I know what that death question was all about. Judy was angry – and in her defense, sleeping with me can be like being in electronic gizmo hell.


Judy, who is clearly on the wrong end of the technological revolution, looks at a television remote with the same shock and awe as the cavemen did when they first discovered fire. Electricity is a miracle to her and she considers it a technological triumph when she clicks a switch and a light comes on. Needless to say, she has little patience with me and the many electronic gizmos I take to bed with me each night.


It starts with the television. When it comes to TV sets, I see them the same way most people view the eternal flame: I never want to see them turned off.


I fall asleep watching television every night. Judy suffers in silence and lies in wait until she hears the first snore. She waits 10, 15 minutes until she is sure I am unconscious – then, like a cat, she quietly crawls towards the television to turn it off the only way she knows how: by pressing the power button. In a flash I'm up, sleepy eyes blazing.


“I was watching that,” I snarl.


“No you weren’t, you were sound asleep.”


“Yes I was, it was very interesting.”


“OK, if you were watching, what was it?”


“Jimmy Fallon?”


“No.”


“Was it the Military Channel, which is now the American Heroes Channel? I remember it’s Evolution of Evil week and last night was Hitler night.”


“No, not even close. Besides I told you I would divorce you if I saw Hitler’s face on our television in the middle of the night again. You know that every time Hitler is making a speech, Shlomo growls.”


(Shlomo is our adorable little pooch who sleeps in bed with us and hates both Hitler and Sean Hannity.)


“Give me a hint.”


“It was Gilligan’s Island.”


“That’s right, Gilligan’s Island, and I was really enjoying it. I always had the hots for Tina Louise. Why did you turn it off?”


“Tina Louise is 82 years old,” Judy snarled.


“What’s wrong with that? She’s a sexy older woman,” I answered, meekly.


The problem is deeper than my incessant television viewing. While I was protesting that I wasn’t asleep and I was watching TV, I also had an iPod earphone in each ear. Yes, even though the television is on, my iPod is on, too, and I listen to old radio shows from the 40s and 50s all night long.


I have over 1,000 old radio shows, which I buy and download from otrcat.com. Shows like “The Masked Avenger” and “The Lone Ranger” and “The Mysterious Traveler.”


A few nights ago I awoke to Judy pulling the earphone out of my right ear and screaming, “Jerry, I can’t sleep. I keep hearing Sherlock Holmes talking to Dr. Watson.”


“Just one more minute,” I begged. “They are about to catch the killer in ‘The Case of the Tell-Tale Pigeon Feathers.’”


That’s when she called me a hopeless idiot.


I wish I could say it ends with the television and my iPod, but I also take my iPad to bed so that I can get the news and read some of the three to five books I’m reading at the same time. Or I listen to a book on Audible. The problem with that is, according to Judy, the iPad casts an eerie light in a darkened room that scares her.


I also have my iPhone in bed with me and it buzzes and vibrates all night with messages about how I’ve won some fake lottery in the Netherlands. Or it’s buzzing because some hot 23-year-old Russian beauty can’t fall asleep until she can make a date with me.


The last two mornings the alarm on my iPhone has gone off at 4:45 AM, which was a mistake on my part because I thought I had set it for 4:45 PM to wake myself from an afternoon nap.


The next night when the alarm, playing “Toreador,” went off I almost asphyxiated myself crawling and burrowing under the covers to find the iPhone loudly playing the song.


Judy, who is given to bouts of profanity when her sleep is interrupted by a song like “Toreador” at 4:45 AM, sleepily muttered, “If Bizet were still alive and he heard what you and those cell phone music barbarian bastards at AT&T have done with his music, he would either cut his throat or yours.”



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