Literary Yard

Search for meaning

By: Michael C. Keith


What you wear to the grave is always safe from criticism.
–– Sander Howling

Alison asked her 81 year-old spouse what clothes he wanted to wear at his wake.

Huh? That’s a weird thing to say. Why the heck are you asking me that? Do you know something I don’t,” he responded, slightly taken aback.

“I don’t know. It just seems like a reasonable question to ask you because appearance is so important to you.”

Well, I’m perfectly healthy, so it isn’t something I’ve given much thought.”

Yes, it was a silly question. I was just thinking about what I’d like to be buried in, so I figured I’d ask you.”

Jeez, Millie, you’re 14 years younger than me. Why would you even be thinking about that?”

This morning I was standing in my closet and looking at my outfits, and the thought just came to me out of the blue. Sorry, it’s ridiculous.”

Well, now that you mention it . . .”

Forget it, darling. You know me. Sometimes I say things without thinking. Didn’t mean to upset you.”

Actually, I’d like to be laid out in my blue Armani suit with my Stefani Ricci dress shirt and my Charvet silk tie.”

Really, what about the tie I gave you for your last birthday? I had it specially made from one of my designs.”

Well, I don’t think it’s the right tie to be laid to rest in, sweetheart. The look isn’t right for such a serious occasion. It should be worn when we go to a . . . costume party.”

A costume party? That’s what you think of my art work?”

I didn’t mean it that way . . .”

Well, what way did you mean?”

I meant it’s kind of . . . well, a bit . . .”

Do you have any idea how long it took me to create that unusual design, and you’re saying it looks . . .”

Unusual, like you say. Maybe a little too . . .”

Too what? Just what are you getting at, Herb? Are you saying it’s too ugly, too silly, too tasteless . . .?”

No . . . no, I’m getting my words all mixed up. Actually, I think it’s the perfect looking tie to be buried in.”

Now that’s a heck of a thing to say about what I’ve put so much of my creative energy into. It should be buried, huh?””

I’m not feeling very well, honey.”

Good, I’ll get you the tie.”


Michael C. Keith teaches college and writes fiction.


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