On attendance of a funeral

By Christopher Wink | April 14, 2006

I choose my clothes carefully, more carefully than I normally tend to choose my clothes. I am dressed well. I am dressed well in black, all black from my freshly shined shoes to my belt to my neatly ironed shirt and cravat. By cravat I mean a length of fabric I tie around my neck according to a tradition with origins unknown to me. This means I am dressed-up. This means fancy. I am dressed well and fancy in black. I have used a shoeshine kit, an iron, and lint brushes, and toothbrushes, and hairbrushes and other items made to help me look nice enough to convince others that I care how I look. I have run out of things to prepare. I enter and sit inside an automobile. I ride.

There are so many other automobiles. The automobile I am inside situates itself between two other automobiles, all ordered according to white lines on rough, hard ground of the same color as the legs of my pants that don’t fit around my ankles as I feel they should. I stop and fix my black pants, and retuck my black shirt under these black pants. I have run out of things to prepare. I enter a big building made of triangles.

This is a place that many people I know think these events should be held. By tradition and desire I am quiet. There are initial furtive glances particular to my role in this event. Or casual glances that are natural for when people pass other people. I do not know which. I think they are particular to me because I think everyone cares about me so that way if that is true I am not surprised. I am still in the lobby. This is an oversized, tiny room that lets you enter. Like my mouth, where I hold my food before I gobble it down my throat to its destination. I don’t know if my food really knows where it wants to go or if it is only given the appearance of a choice. It always goes to the same place. In the lobby everyone goes to the same place.

I pause by faces that I recognize because I have seen them every day for many days. People say my name in hushed tones. I assume this is to reaffirm that it is me because the hug and repeated back-patting that always follows would not be desired by someone who wasn’t me. I don’t really desire them and I am I. But, I don’t know if I don’t desire them. My belt does not stay centered. By tradition, my belt buckle should line up with my shirt buttons. These are all roughly in the center of my body. I have to retuck my black shirt under my black pants. I have run out of things to prepare. I enter a room with a roof that is too tall to remember.

They look at me or I thought or I wanted or I didn’t want them to look at me. I watch the show. Many women wipe things from their eyes with very white kerchiefs. These are portions of soft material with which women wipe things from their eyes. Men look forward or rest their arms on women who wipe things from their eyes. Other men have red eyes, or normal eyes with red tints. Sometimes people get red eyes for not sleeping. I think how silly that is while I bend my leg at the knee to rest my ankle on my opposite thigh. This is how people traditionally relax or sit comfortably. I wonder if any animals do that when I notice a mark on my recently shined black shoes. I use the fleshy side of my thumb to rub the mark until it disappears. So few imperfections disappear after rubbing and attention and care.

People get up and join the show. They say nice things and remember other nice things. Many people lie, if lying can mean to exclude negative information. People get tired of saying nice things to men who get tired of resting their arms on women who get tired of wiping things from their eyes next to the children who get tired of looking sad.

I loosen my cravat just a little. This is why men wear cravats. So, later they can loosen the cravat a little. This is a very fashionable look, but, by tradition, you have to wear it tightened for many hours first. I loosen my cravat. I can think of many things to prepare. I exit the room with the roof and the building of triangles and I enter the automobile. The automobile carefully reverses and drives on the right side of yellow lines, as everyone traditionally does. I tie my shoelace, which doesn’t seem to stay tightened. I tighten my cravat so later I can loosen it and look tired. I look out the window.