I recently sent a friend a text message using the phrase “reach-around” in response to my feelings about having to pay a large sum to have my washing machine repaired. I think that may be one of my favorite phrases in the whole wide world. It definitely ranks among the heavy hitters like “douchebag” and “bongwater.”
This morning I was engaging in a little stream-of-consciousness thinking while listening to my vast and varied music assortment, and suddenly I recalled the very first time I ever heard the phrase “reach-around.” My father had just died, and I was in the back of someone’s car, and my brother and sister were in the front. I think my sister must have been driving, and since my brother is 19 feet tall, he gets a lifetime pass on “shotgun.” Anyway, we were discussing the cost of funeral flowers and I could only half hear the conversation from the front, which included, “without even the benefit of a reach-around.” I said, “Excuse me, did you just say ‘reach-around?’”
Then I think I did that thing where you begin laughing at warp-speed, forcing every ounce of breath from your lungs in one singular instant, resulting in a long, drawn-out wheeze, with tears streaming from your eyes. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then that totally sucks for you. Anyway, so that got us brainstorming…what could we do to offset the cost of these funeral flowers, which start at about a thousand dollars and go up from there? I mean, he’s dead, they’re going to get thrown out, and the only real plant that gave the man any joy was the tobacco plant. FTD doesn’t DO a Chesterfield Condolence arrangement. We came up with a plan that seemed BRILLIANT!
We would MAKE THEM OURSELVES.
Flash forward to the day before the funeral. My sister and I are traipsing through Mesquite Valley Growers with exactly ZERO idea of what we are looking for, so we just start loading up our little red wagon with flowers that we thought looked nice, oblivious to any real or perceived idea of what constitutes an “appropriate” funeral bouquet. It was springtime, and there were so many choices. “Here, get these orange flowers, he would have liked these.” “OMG, are these Orange Blossoms? Totally put those in there because that’s like ‘The Orange Blossom Special.’” “Oh, and Daisies. Get some Daisies since Mom really liked them.” Are you picturing it, yet?
Here, lemme give you a visual:
So, here we have all these flats of flowers that we are SURE Dad would have liked, but now we need something to put them in. Some sort of container that denotes reverance, respect, and the somberness of a funeral. Something that really conveys a dignified passing through the pearly gates. I bet you wouldn’t guess it, but they TOTALLY sold THAT VERY THING at Home Depot:
Seriously. TOTALLY funeral-y, right? We practically did a body slam “high five” over our sheer ingenuity and thriftiness. Damn it, our dad would’ve been proud of us. So, we crammed and jammed those little flats of flowers into these great faux-stone behemoths, and covered the blank spaces with spanish moss. DONE and DONE.
Day of the funeral, we dragged those fuckers into the church ourselves and placed them one on either end of the casket. BOOYAH, FUNERAL FLOWERS, BABY. We are SLICK. We just KNOW that people are acknowledging that clearly we must have loved our father a LOT to give him such fine, fine funeral flowers, the likes of which would normally be reserved for the wealthy ”society types” of deceased individuals.
As the mass progressed, I was obviously quite heart-broken over the loss of my father, but it was Fr. Max Von Sidow who really drove home the true impact of the flowers when, after his interminable monotone telling of the meaning of life and death and eternal rewards, he paused for a longer-than-usual moment and finished his pontificating with, “…and this is represented with such an unusually festive arrangement of flowers.”
Is there such a thing as a FUNERAL FAIL?
Anyway, I was laughing so hard while I was remembering my introduction to the word “reach-around,” that I shook the bed hard enough to wake the hubby, who thought I was BAWLING. I was, in fact, crying, but it was because I was laughing so hard, and I could barely tell him the story without constantly having to stop and start over and take deep breaths, JUST to get the words out.
My parents must have had a good, hard laugh over that one.