Little Maggie was my best friend. I sure will miss her. I was sure she would be safe in the toilet. It was just a routine goldfish bowl cleaning. I screamed in horror when I forgot and flushed.
Denial always comes first. I thought: “She’s just frolicking in the septic tank. Tomorrow, she’ll swim up to me with those big, brown eyes and we’ll watch TV and eat Doritos just like always.” Once reality set in, I realized recovery would be an uphill battle.
I tried to go on with life as usual. I went to Sea World, Fisherman’s Wharf, Red Lobster. All the usual places. Finally, I bottomed out as I was watching a Flipper marathon and eating jar after jar of tartar sauce. I decided to seek professional help.
I went to see Herb Walleye, aquatic psychiatrist. Herb prescribed some Xanax and we decided that I needed to find closure. Herb suggested a memorial service for Maggie. After all, she wasn’t just a fish. She was my best friend.
I looked through the yellow pages for fish memorials. I found fish hatcheries, fish – tropical – sales and service, fish parts – breaded, Fish – Cedar Rapids – professional hockey team, fish head disposal – industrial, but no fish memorials. Then I hit paydirt with pet memorials.
As I walked into All God’s Creatures Pet Cemetery and Memorial Gardens, I was struck by the formal air. There were marble busts and oil paintings of departed loved ones of the canine and feline persuasions. Subdued strains of Ol’ Yeller sounded plaintively from the sound system. A man named Walter introduced himself as a memorial consultant. He was wearing a dark gray business suit with a white carnation in his lapel and he carried a calculator.
We went into Walter’s office where he expressed his deep, personal sorrow over my loss, pointed out the box of Kleenex, and got down to brass tacks.
“Nothing but the best for the dearly beloved. Might I recommend the Griefmaster 5000 casket with a crushed velvet interior and solid oak beamed ceiling? It has two guest bedrooms, tennis courts, and a wine cellar. Central air and wifi, of course. Featured on the cover of Better Homes and Caskets and chosen by the Clintons for their dearly departed cat, Socks.”
“Well, strictly speaking, Walter, the body is somewhere in the municipal sewer system and I don’t intend to initiate a sewer-wide search.”
“Oh, a burial at sea. That will be great. This will be our first. The USS Maine is available. We’ll need a flotilla of support vessels. We’ll get the U.S. Naval Academy honor guard for a 19-gun salute. And the U.S. Coast Guard Singing Wetbacks chorus can do a Beach Boys medley.”
“Actually, she was 4-F. Bladder control problem.”
“Oh, too bad. I guess we can just pretend there’s a body. No harm in that, right? How about a mausoleum? A replica of Graceland trimmed in gold. And you’ve GOTTA have an eternal flame. A mausoleum without an eternal flame is like a burger without fries. Of course, we’ll need about two million gallons of eternal propane.”
“No eternal flame. Maggie’s sister was fried at Long John Silver’s.”
“Oh, how unfortunate. All right, we’ll make it a 100,000-candlepower eternal flashlight. And we’ll need one thousand Sears Diehard batteries. Technically won’t last for all eternity, but should at least get us a few centuries.”
Walter reset his calculator and continued: “We’ll commission Maya Lin to design a memorial on the mall in Washington. We have 50 tons of top-grade marble on back order. Looks like Lincoln Center is available for the funeral service. What was the dearly beloved’s religious affiliation?”
“Great. I’ll get Jimmy Swaggart’s agent on the phone. But we’ll also need Catholic, Jewish, Muslim (both regular and Missouri synod), Druid, and Church of Satan eulogies because of the Equal Time Provision. And all those ministerial robes. And ministerial robe dry cleaning. And live TV coverage on all major networks. And Fox. And housing, vacation benefits, and dental for the network cameramen. And those from Fox.
“And, oh, I almost forgot, housing, vacation benefits, and dental for the ministerial robe dry cleaners. And a fleet of limos. Could go BMW, but I’m thinking Rolls. And we’ll need security for the motorcade. DAMMIT! My calculator! Cheap-ass batteries! Umm, I mean will you require five-star accommodations for the immediate family?”
Last week my Airedale died. I flushed him down the toilet, too.