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My paid obituary

With these new-fangled paid obituaries, survivors are free to write what they want about the deceased without the usual editorial restraints.

A favorite of mine was for a woman from out of the area who, according to the paid obit, "died unexpectedly." She was 92.

My worry is that my survivors would either try to nominate me for sainthood, which is unlikely, or tell the truth, which would be even worse.

So, to settle this matter while it is still in my hands, I have decided to pen my own paid obituary well in advance. The details will have to be adjusted, but the gist of it should go something like this:

Eric Bergeson passed away last Tuesday of unnatural causes. His dear friends and loving family were nowhere near, which was probably for the best.

We're still piecing it all together. All we know so far is what we found: A ladder tangled in the light fixture, a hammer on the floor and a bent nail over by the piano.

We can only assume that Eric got bored that evening and decided to hang something from the ceiling of his house. Gravity was always his worst enemy, so this is no surprise.

The coroner took one look at the scene, shook his head and entered the cause of death as a "random act of clumsiness."

Every attempt Eric made to pound a nail during his life ended in disaster, so all parties have accepted the coroner's finding. There will be no further investigation.

Because gas prices are so high, it would just be silly to have a funeral. The deceased would be offended if anybody tried to make sense of this all, anyway.

Besides, the Ladies Aid has already served two funerals in the past three weeks. They aren't as young as they used to be, either. We don't want to wear them out.

Because Eric's friends and loved ones were far from the scene of the disaster, they all survive him.

Eric was preceded in death by 1,584 ancestors. They are buried in Norway, Sweden, Germany, Russian, Ireland, Iowa, North Dakota and Minnesota. There may be more, but 1,584 is how many are on the genealogical chart his uncle put together for the family history book.

They include the worst king Norway ever had, an Irish wet nurse, several ministers, a few drunks, a draft dodger, the founder of the King Oscar sardine company, Millard Fillmore's sister-in-law, and a whole host of less prominent others.

It doesn't show up on the chart, but what really happened is that on one side of the family back in Norway, two first cousins married each other. That sort of screwed up the family DNA, which explains a lot, including the ladder in the light fixture.

The complete genealogical chart is available for the low, low price of $8.95, which includes shipping and handling. Minnesota residents add sales tax.

Your purchase will fulfill Eric's life-long dream of actually making money by selling words, even if they aren't his.

No memorials or flowers should be sent. Instead, friends and acquaintances should get together as they see fit, head to the local cafe, eat a big meal and leave a big tip.

In the true Scandinavian tradition, diners will be expected to talk about the weather and not mention the deceased.

As you get up to leave, just say something like, "Well, that was nice."

"Yep, that it was," somebody else should reply, and all appropriateness requirements will have been met.

We have had Eric's ashes analyzed. They are high in phosphate. That makes them an ideal fertilizer for peonies, similar to bone meal.

As per his wishes, they will be available for $4.49 per pound.

When dividing your peonies, pour a quarter cup into the soil in bottom of the hole. Stir well. Plant the peony. The phosphate should double the peony's bloom next season.

Act now while supplies last. We only have 1,200 pounds on hand--and it's going fast.