There is no more fertile ground for sending yourself to social hell than a funeral.
Last week, after my blog, Grocery Store Rules According to Jean, my older godchild, Babygirl, called me.
"Loved, loved, loved, your blog," she said. (She talks like me.)
"Yeah?" I said. "Then why didn't you comment?"
"It's hectic over here," she said.
And it's true. Babygirl teaches fifth grade and, even as we spoke, Little Babygirl was screaming in the background. Mr. Babygirl has gone back to school and is in the home stretch. Babygirl even had to resign from Junior League, which Oldest Friend and I are still gnashing our teeth about.
"It was so good," she went on, "even if you did mention Precious Angel and not me." She adores Precious Angel, but we are a competitive lot over here.
"I don't believe I ever took you to the grocery store," I said.
She couldn't deny it so she changed the subject. (She learned that from me.)
"I think you should do a rules blog once a month. We know some rules."
"We do, at that," I agreed. Never mind, that we've made most of them up and the rest of the world may not agree with us.
"Funerals," she said. "There are lots of rules about funerals. Do that." We talked about that for a while. She supplied me with some, which that I will take credit for.
1. Don’t put a picture, a football jersey, a favorite rod and reel, or anything else in the casket. No props.
2. Don’t throw yourself on the coffin or into the grave.
3. Don't wear cocktail wear.
4. Don't criticize the floral offering until you get home, even if there is a carnation wagon wheel of death with a full spoke for each living sibling and a half for each dead one.
5. Try to keep hysterics to a minimum, while remembering this is the south and we're high strung.
6. Don't pipe in country music.
7. Don't try to get people to say "War Eagle", "Roll Tide", "Hotty Toddy", "How 'Bout Them Dawgs?" or any other battle cry. It's unseemly and besides, people won't do it if it's not their team
8. And, finally, (this is for you Babygirl, though I suspect you have forgotten this): Do not, under any circumstances, wear a dreadlocks wig at the cemetery.
Here's what happened:
For a brief time, my first cousin was married to Babygirl's aunt, on her daddy's side. During this time, there was a very sad death and Oldest Friend and I set off for the graveside service. It is unclear to me now why we thought it would be a good idea to take seven-year-old Babygirl, but there we were. I suspect she begged to go, knowing full well of the opportunity a funeral provides for socializing. We lectured her all the way. No talking. No dancing. No hopping up and down. No cartwheels. No cheerleader moves. No high spiritedness of any kind. (This was hard for her, even then.)
Unfortunately, no one said to her, "No getting the dreadlocks wig your daddy bought out of the car and putting on your head, even if the service is over." Some things just should not have to be said.
Oldest Friend was otherwise occupied. When I caught sight, over my Aunt Martha Burns's shoulder, of Babygirl moving toward the car as fast as her little black patent shoes would carry her, I suspected a faux pas in the making.
"Excuse me," I told my aunt. "I have to shut something down."
She already had it on her head by the time I got there and was about to rejoin the mourners. I caught her by her upper arm and she tried to twist away from me but I won. We had a talk about how it is unseemly to draw attention to oneself, in general, but not to be tolerated in a graveyard while the preacher is still present.
We don't like that rule about not drawing attention to ourselves—her or me, though we generally keep it in check at funerals.
What's the worst thing you've ever seen at a funeral?