Growing up, my father’s annual refusal to string up Christmas lights on the roof was a family tradition not unlike the holiday itself. My sister and I would approach in late fall, huddled together like Dickensian orphans. We would plead and prod and flatter, all the while feeling for an unlatched window that might allow us to slip unnoticed into the basement of his psyche. Dad would smile and say no almost immediately.
In his defense, he is Jewish, afraid of heights, and terribly lazy. After the first few seasons of rebuff, my sister, mother, and I began to take our pent-up festiveness out on Halloween by means of decorating the front yard.
Our greatest triumph was hanging from an elm tree a fake man made out of a very 90s purple and green tracksuit stuffed with dead leaves. He hung unmoving, facing a relatively busy street, for what now seems like six months. His head was the jacket’s hood bunched up around a basketball. I do wonder what the neighbors thought of that pitiful lynched abomination.
Providing ambiance and a feeling of inclusivity for the dead jogger were various other flimsy, kitschy, and gimcrack Halloween decorations. Pumpkins carved with a heavy emphasis on the upside-down triangle. More cobwebs than exist in all the world’s crawlspaces.
The best of the bunch were our homemade tombstones, wrought from grey construction paper and Sharpie-engraved with the hilarious names of the departed. An honest to God actual example:
N. O. Good
N. O. Good, that old bastard. Everybody is glad you died!
I thought it would be fun to come up with some new tombstone inscriptions. I solicited my friend Sam to help with the project. Feel free to use these in your own yards, but only if you turn a tree or telephone pole into your own personal gallows. Our inscriptions are fucking stupid, by the way, so be warned all ye who gaze upon them. Without further ado:
GONE TOO SOON
HE DIED IN HIS SLEEP
HE DIED HOW HE LIVED
A MYSTERY IN LIFE AND DEATH
HE LIVED LIFE TO THE FULLEST
HIS CONGREGATION WAS A CONFLAGRATION
STARRING RYAN REYNOLDS
HE ALWAYS GOT IT STARTED
MAULED BY HIS OWN MAMA
LL GHOUL J
HE RETURNS TO THE BOTTOM