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A Hokey Funeral

Glitter. A lot of glitter. Covering the sidewalk in both directions, down the path and all the way up the stairs to the front door. The mounds of sparkles stuck to everything and glimmered in the morning sun. A testament to the one who made glitter a part of every décor and every outfit, and who could liven it up to be over the top, or accent for appropriate, even professional attire or ambiance.

And the front door leading into the party, two giant eyes with thick lashes airbrushed on the wood grain, paint barely dry. And more glitter. For the one who believed the eyes held undeniable truths, and to him, eye contact was meant for all – loved ones, colleagues, complete strangers. They had his attention for however long it took to be present.

Inside the house, besides the typical party atmosphere, there were photos. Tons of photos, in frames as varying as the photo backdrops, cluttered on every piece of furniture, and forming a line on the floor from the front door and down the hall to him. Of the one who made them smile, with quirky personality and cirque showmanship, a star shining, the center of the crowd, and as down to earth as a favorite cousin.

Delightfully inappropriate. That’s what Dizzy asked for. ‘Lots of camp,’ he told his closest friends and family. ‘Lots of camp and delightfully inappropriate.’

The funeral was at Dizzy’s sister Kate’s house because they didn’t even bother trying to find a funeral home that would stand such whimsical reverie. The place for the party, as Dizzy wanted it called, was open ended. Everything else was pretty damn specific. He wrote it down in crayon, each sentence a different color, because he wanted them to smile when they read it, or at least roll their eyes at the childishness of it all – their big, six foot seven, hulking man child.

First, the body. Gut it and give everything away that was of use. Transplants, research, medical students, whatever. Just use it. What was left was burned to ash, the ashes on display for the party in a Chinese food takeout box. Because he loved Chinese food. And because he thought so little of the aftermath when it was over, less the parts that could be of value to someone else. To Dizzy, it was about living the life, get the time you get, then it’s over. That sentiment was not meant to be pessimistic, or condescending. By looking at it all as finite, a beginning and an end, life was that much more precious.

 After the party, flush the ashes down the toilet, because they were of no use as he saw it. ‘Celebrate me for me,’ he told them. ‘Then get on with your beautiful lives.’

On the front door, under the air brushed eyes and lashes, was a sign that read, Big Fucking World. Don’t it seem small sometimes. Dizzy’s favorite phrase. An over simplification, as he often did, of how profound and complex life was, and yet human beings tended to lose touch with that enormity and get caught in the little problems. When someone around him was complaining too much about things that were superficial or just didn’t matter, he would say with a smile, ‘Big fucking world. Don’t it seem small sometimes.’

The line to get in to pay respects went down the street, around the corner, and stretched for seven blocks. At different points along the line of people, there were performers. Musicians, jugglers, clowns, Shakespearean actors reciting in bath robes. Dizzy knew performers, and they came in droves from every corner of the country and were as diverse as could possibly be imagined. From classical musicians to stunt drivers. Dizzy was once a circus performer and for the last twenty years managed a chaotic clientele. If a more diverse catalogue of talent could have been imagined, he would have added on. Completely trustworthy in a business that was filled with exploitation. For that reason, he was in very high demand.

A lifestyle in entertainment was most surely reflected in the attendance. There were impossibly tall people, extremely flexible ones, fire breathers, name it. Dancers in the street that literally stopped traffic. Exquisite murals drawn in chalk along the sidewalk. An array of artists trying to express how much Dizzy meant to them.

As discernable as the creative types were in the big crowd, they were only one demographic of the those who loved Dizzy. Also in attendance were house wives and house husbands, activists, truck drivers, a few notable journalists and three members of Congress. The list went on. Dizzy was the sort of person who could be in someone’s presence for less than a minute, extend some small gesture that would be both sincere and strange, and that memory would be burned in that someone’s brain for years to come.

The line to get in and the entertainment that accompanied it, drew nearly as many onlookers as the actual attendees. There were crowds gathering across the street and at every corner to see what was happening, which was a perfect send off for Dizzy. He loved to entertain and an impromptu crowd was always welcome. 

What was lacking along the line to get in, and inside, were tears, which was hard to believe because Dizzy was loved by so many. But they were the rules. No tears, it was a party. People cried it out before they came, or held it in until after. Or didn’t need to because they got it, they understood. Dizzy’s entire life was about a celebration of life. To understand Dizzy was to understand his understanding of the universe. Dizzy knew he was there for a finite period, whatever time that was, and when the curtain closed the only regret would be the minutes that weren’t lived Dizzy’s way. Those closest to him knew those minutes were few and far between.

More than fourteen hours had gone by. When the line had finally shortened and the last of the bereaved were making their trek through the doors of the house to pay their respects, Kate began to weep to herself.

They were twins and as close as could be, and different as could be. She went to law school, got married, used her education for social justice issues (an obvious influence of her brother), had kids, had a suburban life of backyards and little league games. Dizzy, who legally changed his name to reflect how he felt every minute of every day, lived a different life. He was moved by the emotions around him, sadness and happiness, rage and remorse. Dizzy soaked it in like a sponge. To him, the greatest gift in life was the ability to feel, however that played out at any given time. Starting a family, starting a combined life with another, however, was not in the cards. Not by choice, and not with regret. Dizzy was in love with the world and that never seemed to work in a relationship. He was running nearly twenty-four hours a day, and there were many who needed a part of him, for a minute, an hour, a quick smile in passing when a stranger was at her lowest.

The last to leave were the closest to Dizzy. Friends and family, the ones who understood him the most. That was when Kate went from a controlled weeping when no one could see, to a full-on cry. The true break in the damn when it was time to fulfill her brother’s last wish – flush what was left and go on with their beautiful lives. They huddled in the hallway, the strange and the regular, leaning into the narrow bathroom doorway, as close as they could get, all embracing each other. She held the Chinese food takeout box close to her chest, tears running in sync with the melodic hum of her sobbing.

An old man spoke up, no more than five feet in height with bright orange shirt, green suspenders, baggy pants, strikingly large black shoes and a septum nose piercing that held a black ring set against white clown make-up. His voice was high but coarse by the years.

“Big Fucking World. Don’t it seem small sometimes.”

The last to leave broke out in laughter, including Kate who wiped her tears and dropped the contents of the Chinese food takeout box into the toilet and flushed.

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