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Monday, August 15, 2011

"Do not bring the dog."

I've spent a lot of time trying to figure out just what to wear to the "invitation only" funeral. It keeps me busy. I decided to go to my standby on most things, Mark Twain, who wrote, in a brief essay about proper funeral behavior, "Do not bring the dog." It's not helping much but they ARE words to live by and I fully intend to leave the dog at home. I don't actually HAVE a dog but if Twain had suggested I bring one I would have rented a pup.

I find myself getting increasingly nervous as this occasion approaches. In the first place, it's being held in a very snooty place. Very. It's SO snooty it's the only Catholic Church (possibly the only church period) in the State that never has to give the "We need money" sermon. They can keep running on the change that its congregation drops in the padded pews. They also have no parking. There's a lot which accommodates approximately 20 cars. I know this because we drove over there and scoped the place out last weekend. There's a possibility of valets, we're not sure yet. All the street parking is restricted so we'll most likely be using the public parking garage across the street from the Church and next to the Cartier's. You think I jest?

In anticipation of this, I went looking for appropriate funeral attire. Appropriate RICH people's funeral attire. Well, not really rich people. It's been my experience that most legitimately rich people are quite nice, very friendly, accepting of all your Payless Shoe Source-shod relatives, VERY generous with their gin and they usually think your car is really cool.

NO...this is a service for people who are well off, having become well off not by hard work but by throwing other people under the train, and think their crap doesn't stink. Ever been to a rich persons home for a meal? Hors d'oeuvres are plentiful, wine flows and food is wonderful. They actually invite you into their homes.

The pseudo rich book the club house at the gated community which is named as if it's a really, really tony area and hopes maybe you might confuse the two. Sorry, but calling your apartment complex the "Upper East Side lofts on the Hudson" won't negate the fact that it's a co-op in the Bronx. But the people who paid inflated prices for their living area THINK it's as good as, if not better than, the Upper East Side and they expect you to treat them with the appropriate reverence. They also tend to feel that you're too stupid to know the difference, being part of the unwashed masses that work for a living and live close enough to your office to walk.

What the "clubhouse" is, is a big, square room which will be punctuated with round tables, folding chairs and the contents of my step-MILs refrigerator which include the bleu cheese ball I made and brought over to her last week. I can picture it now, a small round table, a paper tablecloth and my cheese ball with a stack of napkins and a box of Ritz crackers.

Well, what does one wear to such a pretentious gathering? I bought a simple navy blue suit. On sale. BIGGGGG sale. One of those "Take 50% off the last marked price because we only have one left" sales. Sheath, matching jacket. I planned to pair it with a pair of black pumps, a black church-type hat and the tourssade of freshwater pearls the hubster gave me when our second son was born. Simple earrings and a nice pin for the jacket. The pin is the important part. It's an enamel pansy, obviously vintage. Vintage is a nice way of saying the paint is chipped off the edge. But this really IS old. There's a nice size real diamond in the center.

It's important to wear this pin. It was a gift from my mother-in-law. No, not the one who is planning this tacky event, my ACTUAL mother in law. The hubster's mother. The lady who married my FIL first. In the very church that's been chosen for the funeral.

It doesn't GET much better, does it?

But...I am on the horns of a dilemma. My step-MIL is the woman who wore a sailor suit to my mother's funeral. No, not like the kid on the Cracker Jack box, although all it needed was the hat. Blue and white striped slacks, a buttoned up sleeveless white vest with no shirt under it and wedge espadrilles. Because, as she kept saying to all of the black- and navy blue-clad people who were in attendance, no one wears black to funerals anymore.

I own a just above-the-knee length skirt in a jaunty print of white sailboats on navy blue which, I'm thinking, would look nice paired with my Bellagio Las Vegas souvenir t-shirt. The shirt is white, btw, with a big gold sun on the front which should enhance the overall regatta theme. I think that and a pair of flip flops might be in order. I'll even get a pedicure. I wouldn't want to be accused of appearing slovenly.

I'll end up in the navy suit I imagine. As the hubster said, given the choice of doing the appropriate thing and getting skewered for it or telling someone to go to hell I'll do the appropriate thing every time. Lesser of two evils and all that. I won't feel good about it, I will resent it and I will have been badly used in the process but every family needs a doormat and that's MY job. I also think I'll end up leaving off the pearls. I subscribe to Coco Chanel's advice on accessorizing. Less IS more. Besides, they might detract from the pin, and I'm so looking forward to saying "Thank you! I just love it, it belonged to the hubster's mother."

IF anyone asks, from what I gather my FILs children aren't "family", the widow's brothers, nieces, nephews, ex-wives and caddies are "family." Says so. Right there in the obit. He was loved, admired and adored by HER family, all of whom are named, along with their spouses, kids and trash collectors. He was "survived" by his four children and some assorted grandchildren, four, five, something like that. I don't really anticipate being seated anywhere close to the area the important people will be, I'm frankly surprised we're being allowed in at all. It took me a WEEK to find out where the funeral was, I kept asking and was told "just check the website or your e-mail." Really? You couldn't just SAY "The Church of What's Happening Now"? No, I have to wait for my invitation in the mail.

I'm reminded of the time my step-MIL threw a rehearsal dinner for one of her stepson's weddings. My niece had RSVP'd for herself and her significant other. At the last minute her significant other was bumped off his flight and couldn't come. My step-MIL loudly berated the girl, outside, in front of people, yelling at her that the dinner had already been PAID for and she couldn't get the MONEY BACK and how terrible this was and it was all my niece's fault for being rude and inconsiderate. Apparently both the airline and the National Weather Service should have given her guarantees of the boyfriend's availability for said dinner. She then followed this up with a lecture on manners via e-mail which my SIL, God love her, chose to share with me. That was 8 years ago, I still have the email.

We may be leaving early (depends on how long this soiree goes) because we're going to a wedding in Laguna. We had already said we would be there and they gave the head count to the caterer and then we had to say "Well, sorry, I could have told you this a week ago but no one would tell me where, or when the damn funeral was." They responded with heartfelt condolences and told us to come when we could, we would be welcome on-time or late, they would just be happy to see us and they would keep our dinner warm if at all possible.

For my money, that's the way REAL rich people act. And it has absolutely nothing to do with the balance in their checking account.

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