I’d Like to Change My Plot.
BY BOB POWERS
I realize this is far from my first request for a plot change and you’ve been very patient up to now, but after some consideration I’m afraid Plot 1646B simply won’t do either.
It’s not about flowers, as with Plot 2705. I visited 2705 over several weekends to get a sense of the area and it seemed just fine, until one Saturday when a family started smothering the grass of the neighboring plot with lilacs. I loathe lilacs, so I asked politely if I could convince them to switch to lilies or even roses once I take residence in my plot. The tone they took when they said their grandmother wouldn’t have any other kind of flower on her grave made clear these people weren’t interested in being reasonable. If this old woman in the neighboring grave could spawn such a rude extended family, I just couldn’t look forward to being consumed by the same worms that have been feeding on her flesh all these years. So 2705 was a no-go for me.
Plot 5807 was picturesque, but it was unfortunately located near the entrance the high school kids use when they ditch class mid-day. I know because I hid in the bushes and watched them gather near 5807 to smoke cigarettes and fornicate. On one afternoon I watched a couple lay down across my very plot and make out for so long and with such enthusiasm, I fear they would have gone all the way had they not been disturbed by the groundskeeper’s dimwitted son, who appeared to be spying on them from an adjacent bush. I simply don’t wish to have my grave used as a cushion for the clumsy deflowering of truants.
It was at this point when you told me plot 1203 was available, and I examined it and found it perfect. Not only that, but 1203 happens to be my birthday, December 3rd, which I took as a promising sign. I was all set to sign the contract, but when I arrived at your office you told me it had been taken. Very unprofessional. I asked if I could speak to the purchaser but you rudely refused and instead offered me plot 7831, which was surprisingly cheap. You neglected to mention, however, that 7831 borders the eastern fence, and on the other side of that fence is the deafening two-way speaker of the Arby’s drive-thru. When my friends and loved ones visit my grave, I’d prefer they not have to endure the sound of motorists idling their engines while shouting at fry cooks about roast beef. I think you understand my decision to pass on the reasonably priced plot 7831.
I must admit I thought you hostile when you next recommended 4222. The graves surrounding 4222 were nothing but shared plots occupied by married couples buried side-by-side, their stones graced with treacle like “Together Forever” and lovesick Rilke verse they probably discovered only when searching for something to be read at their weddings. One stone was in the shape of a heart and sported a misinterpreted Neil Diamond lyric for Christ’s sake. Being an unmarried woman long past the age when that status is likely to change (despite what occurred after I was given 1185), the thought of being laid to rest surrounded by so many mooning dead couples is like an invitation to yet another dinner party where I’m pitied as the only single woman in attendance. Those dinner parties merely felt like an eternity. I have no interest in making the duration literal.
Plot 1185 was majestic, without question. Not quite as beautiful as plot 1203, but after exploring the area over several afternoons, googling the neighboring occupants, and covertly observing their attending mourners, I couldn’t find a single drawback. So I decided the only way to be sure would be to spend the night sleeping on the grass that would top my future coffin. And that’s how I met Dennis.
“You’re a tough shopper too I take it,” was how he introduced himself, a voice in the dark, traveling from two rows over. I was not nearly as startled as I should have been. His voice had such a gentle timbre. It was hard not to find it welcoming, even in the dead of night in the middle of a cemetery.
I shone my flashlight on him where he was stretched out on his own grave, staring at the sky just as I had been, and he asked me my plot number.
“1185,” I told him. “Yours?”
He told me his plot number and I informed him, “That’s my birthday.”
We made love that night on his plot 1203, the two of us rolling around on the grass just like the high school kids on 5807. We might have made love all night had a rainstorm not forced us to put on our clothes and take shelter in the Arby’s. Thus began a whirlwind romance between two old souls, startled to find they still had a little love left in them long after they’d each resigned to dying alone, which is why we raced into your office after only knowing each other a matter of days and we purchased 1646B and 1646A, the latter of which, as you are aware, Dennis occupied this past Saturday.
I began that morning excited to know my new love was taking residence in our eternal resting place. Then I went to the memorial service.
Listening to the eulogies of his friends and family, I realized I did not know this man in the slightest. Did you know he was a dentist? I didn’t. In our head-over-heels madness, when we weren’t making love, all we’d ever talked about was graves. What we’d get on our tombstones, would either of us request a wake, is there a way to dissuade mourners from leaving lilacs. We were compatible in sex, and we were compatible in post-mortem predilections. In everything else we were strangers.
It just isn’t right for me to take the grave by his side when we never got around to properly introducing ourselves. Which is why I’m writing to you today, respectfully, to ask that I be released from my contract for 1646B, and that I be given the opportunity to switch to a vacant single-occupancy plot. At the risk of being indelicate, I believe plot 1203 is once again vacant and I’d like to put a hold on it immediately.
While I’m happy to finally take ownership of plot 1203, I must thank you for not letting me have it when I’d originally asked. Had you done so, and had you sold Dennis on a plot far at the other side of the cemetery, we might never have met for our brief romance, and that would have been truly something to mourn. So, thank you, and I’ll await my new contract.
SUGGESTED READSPun About Death Goes Here for Title: An Interview with Jim Keller, Groundskeeper at the Marysville Cemetery
by Dan Kennedy (5/12/2003)
Puns About Death are Unavoidable: An Interview with Janet Waters on the Stealing of Deeds to her Burial Plots Last Winter
by Chris Waters (6/2/2003)
Dan Liebert, Verbal Cartoonist: Puberty
by Dan Liebert (11/14/2007)
RECENTLYCoffee Shop Algebra
by Allen Rein (3/27/2015)
Open Letters: An Open Letter to the Braxton-Hicks Contractions That Hit a Student in My First Period 10th Grade English Class
by Mr. Dickson (3/27/2015)
List: Things My Love Life and My Writing Career Have in Common
by Samantha Edmonds (3/27/2015)
POPULARList: What Your Favorite ’80s Band Says About You
by John Peck (7/5/2011)
Reasons You Were Not Promoted That are Totally Unrelated to Gender
by Homa Mojtabai (1/27/2015)
A Brooklyn Heights Nursery School’s Entrance Exam
by Garth Horn (3/19/2015)