Thursday, February 26, 2009

Bring Out Yer Dead

It pains me to do this. But it was bound to happen. I knew when I got into this Women Do racket that one day, a publication I'd recently written for would come out with a truly preposterous Women Do story. I am honor-bound to smite it, conflict of interest be damned. (Besides, the freelance check has already cleared.)

Today's item concerns women (naturally), who are flocking in increasing numbers (as is their wont) to the funeral industry. What do you suppose the headline is? Think about it for a minute before you click. Got it? OK! Here's the story!

Immediately we can see that Phoenix staff perkiness dispenser Sara Faith Alterman has turned the Useless Reveal, one of the standard tropes of Women Do literature, on its head. Gender stereotype first, manly occupation second.
Like any other 20 year olds, Megan Peterson and Mackenzie Byles chatter like hyperactive squirrels, excitedly finishing each others' sentences as though they're alien twins with melded minds.
Mind-melded hyperactive alien squirrel twins? That is so exactly what adult women are like!
It's incongruous to imagine their manicured hands expertly slitting a corpse's neck, fishing around under flesh and sinew with sinister-looking hooks for the carotid artery, exposed muscle tissue looking as plump and juicy as pre-packaged raw chicken breasts.

These fresh faces are the future of funeral service.
Be not distracted by all the hiply grotesque verbiage which is the Mark of the Alt-Weekly. Under all those juicy dead breasts is classic Women Do, as boilerplate as anything you might find in the dailies. To sum up the plot thus far: Women are dumb, and one is surprised to find them doing hard stuff, but they are. Let us continue.
As President Obama tries to resuscitate a flat-lining economy left for dead, a new wave of young females like Peterson and Byles are breathing life into the business of death.
This story was veering dangerously close to irrelevance in the national sociopolitical discourse, but we rescued it with a tacky analogy. Onward!
With increasing fervor, women are permeating what was once a male-dominated industry.
Permeate with fervor! DO IT, GIRL.
According to a study...
Hooray, Science! Enough of that. Why is it so crazy for chicks [sic] to be funeral directors?
The physical aspects of the job, historically, have been obstacles for women. Not because chicks can't haul a cadaver down a flight of stairs and then slice it open and snip rotting veins and arteries without crying and gagging at the sight of exposed muscle tissue, but because men have always assumed that they can't.
Damn those mens and their assumptions! Let's cut to the chase and find out why women are so keen on dead flesh. Increasingly. It's because they're caring. Is there ever any other reason? (Well, it might also be because they lust after corpses. Being an alt-weekly, we have to work sex in there somehow.)
Urges of a more cerebral nature have attracted many young women to the funeral industry; namely, the urge to help distressed mourners navigate one of the more difficult milestones of life.
Dr. Lyn Prendergast's slightly peevish quote indicates that perhaps a reporter has just asked her an irritating question. Maybe, "So, do girls get mortuary degrees because they like just want to help people or what?"
'The perception of the general public is that women tend to be more compassionate,' says Dr. Lyn Prendergast, founder (with her husband, Dr. Louis Misantone) of FINE. 'A lot of women do have compassionate sides, and I think it's one factor that draws them into the industry, but it shouldn't be a blanket statement. Unfortunately, though, it's mostly true.'
Can't...(cough, gasp)...fight...inherent...altruism.


  1. No joke: This stuff of yours should have a much wider audience. I'm doing my part by eating as much pizza as is possible, but...

    NO! I said "No joke." There must be some way to get this greatness to a larger audience than you have here. I wish I was a billionaire publisher. Hell, skip the "publisher" part.

    I'm sorry. I'm constitutionally unable to forgo the corny punchline. You know what I'm trying to say, it's sincere, and I'll leave you alone now.

  2. Suldog! Honestly. Thank you.

    I used to get paid to dish out this kind of thing (in addition to doing a LOT of other, less obviously fun stuff, naturally). I now look back on that as a golden time in my life, a time when somebody basically paid me to hang out in a treehouse with my friends throwing rotten apples at passersby.

    Opportunities like that come around once in a lifetime, if ever, and must be seized. I look around at the world of media/newspapers/magazines right now, and it is a vale of tears. I can only hope that good times will come again. In the meantime, I'll keep doing this shit for no money, because it's marginally better than not doing it at all. I feel a little guilty for giving the store away, but not guilty enough to quit.

    That said: any billionaire publishers are welcome to come calling.

  3. "I now look back on that as a golden time in my life, a time when somebody basically paid me to hang out in a treehouse with my friends throwing rotten apples at passersby."

    --I feel ya, Harris. I really do.

  4. For what it's worth, Jenna, if I were a billionaire publisher, I'd give you a thirty-year job contract to throw cyanide-laced spitballs at the A.R.T.

  5. I'll bypass that atrocious simile-crash at the top and just say this: Funeral directors don't slit throats. During embalming, blood is drained through the carotid or femoral arteries in the inner thigh. Otherwise, retard, the open casket wake might be a tad unsettling for said nurturing female undertaker's clientele. The end result is supposed to look like your loved one, not something that fell off a pirate ship.