Ken starts talking about pushing up… mushrooms
Never, in any previous column, have I considered the need to provide a trigger warning. Regular visitors to Geezerville are generally mature, clear-minded and emotionally stable enough to put up with whatever nonsense I spill into this 450-word frame. Nevertheless, I recognize that certain subjects are sensitive for some folks. Should toilet tissue hang front or back? Are innies innately superior to outies? Is pineapple ever permissible on pizza?
That’s why I feel compelled to issue the following advisory: this column touches on one of life’s three most painful inevitabilities. No, not Nickelback. Not even taxes. It’s the Big One. Death. The big sleep. The undiscovered country from whose bourn, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. This line of thinking stemmed from a recent virulent man-cold that saw me poised to dial the local undertaker for pickup, but that’s beside the point. I willingly acknowledge that more decades lie in my rearview mirror than in the windscreen. So, Gentle Reader, if this subject matter makes you squeamish, please put the paper down now, and go pour yourself a nice mug of Ovaltine.
Still here? OK, let’s move on.
After years of debating the merits of dust-to-dust versus ashes-to-ashes, I’m on the brink of revising my will in favour of the mushroom suit option when it’s time to shuffle off this rusty coil. As the planet hurtles toward doomsday, the least I can do for those who survive me is to choose the most responsible corpse-disposal method available. Besides, I really, really love mushrooms.
Why should my mortal remains be underemployed, pushing up simpleminded daisies, when they could spawn complex and mouth-watering chanterelles, truffles, shitakes, enokis, morels or Devil’s cigars?
Why waste my corpus delectus on common lawn grass or table decorations when it could grace generations of unforgettable porcini risottos, portobello omelettes, or oyster mushroom soufflés worth dying for?
A younger, more romantic version of myself might have chosen to have his scurvy-ravished remains slid anonymously into a fog-shrouded North Atlantic from the starboard rail of a four-masted schooner. Another version might prefer a space next to Chopin, Oscar Wilde, or Jim Morrison in the Cimetière Père-Lachaise in Paris. Or under a slab in Westminster Abbey within hollering distance of Chaucer, Browning and Dickens.
As mortality looms closer, I find myself (like Luke Perry) leaning toward Jae Rhim Lee’s toxin-gobbling infinity burial suit, whose sewn-in mushroom spores are designed to render human corpses into clean, life-giving compost. With all those eager hyphae and mycelia working on my behalf, I could carry on tending my garden, while providing the basics of the occasional tagliatelle ai funghi cremini for my heirs and assigns to wash down with a decent tempranillo.
On second thought, maybe I won’t go at all. I’ll just stick around for the meal.