You thought this was going to be about Spielberg, Scorcese and Cecil B. DeMille, didn’t ya?
Nope, it’s about a group of funky funeral directors I know.
I lived across from the Frank E. Campbell Funeral Home for almost 4 decades, befriending many of its workers.
For the record, Campbell is the last stop for the rich and famous including Judy Garland, for whom their chapel is named for.
Anyone well known, even if it’s just for packaging, like John Lennon and Kate Spade who were both cremated, their last stop is Campbell.
This morning, a funeral was about to commence at St. Ignatius Loyola, New York’s second, next to St. Patrick’s, biggest, most esteemed Catholic Church. It’s where Jackie Kennedy, Lena Horne, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Aaliyah and Oscar de la Renta all had their funeral masses.
I stood watching this group of men in their black best, hands serenely folded behind their backs, wait like solemn soldiers for the hearse to pull up with the current guest-of-honor.
They saw me spying, smiling slyly but never breaking stance, all guys I’ve sat with snacking on chips while hearing stories on a slow day.
Rumor has it, before they launched the show, 6 Feet Under, the writers grilled a director who shall remain nameless, they should have handsomely paid as a consultant.
How does one decide to become an undertaker anyway? One guy said, it was in his blood, since his dad and granddad were one.
Another claimed, he always had a fascination for the dead that led to Embalming School.
One of their more resident screwballs told me...like hey, it’s a business that never grows cold, I mean, you know what I mean, right? wink wink.
Yeah, sure I do…will you excuse me?
I can’t imagine dating someone who chronically smells like formaldehyde and frozen gladiolas, yet they’re all married with families, nice cars and high-end homes.
When the hearse finally pulls up like a black, shiny chariot, 6 pallbearers that could have been members of the Gambino family, hop out, opening the back, easing out their charge.
The casket was one of their Rolls Royce models that could easily feed Somalia, a shame really, when you think about it, but then again, when you have big bucks, all bets are off, and I mean off, when you’re going for that last ride.