Mother died today. Or maybe yesterday, I can't be sure.
The Home for
Aged Persons is at Marengo, some fifty miles from Algiers. It seemed to me
absurd that in this empty God-less universe without any meaning or purpose it
was necessary to shell out 15 dollars (30 bucks round trip!) just to ride a
smelly and bumpy auto-bus to attend one's mother's funeral when I could just as
well have stayed home and watched Django
Unchained if I wanted to hang with dead people.
arrival at the asylum I met with the director of the facility.
"I know how hard this must be for you," said Monsieur le
Directeur. "Now I suppose you'd like to see your mother?"
"Nah," I replied, "what ya got to eat here? You got cable?
Last season for True
Blood, you know!"
The director seemed a bit surprised by my response, but not at all judgmental.
"Holy crap, Monsieur Meursault! Mr. Touchy-Feely you ain't! But there's something more I wish to tell you. About
your Mother's final expenses."
"I knew it. Mahjong losses! I should have known better than to put her in
a Jewish retirement home."
"No, that's not it at all, Monsieur Meursault! You see, your mother
had life insurance through the Colonial Penn Insurance Group. All her final
expenses were paid."
"“How could Mother have secured life insurance?” I asked the
director. “The way she huffed and puffed Gauloises, she had long ago been
designated a Superfund Site by the EPA.”
"With Colonial Penn," explained the director, "your
acceptance is guaranteed."
"There is nothing guaranteed in this cold soulless universe, Monsieur le
Directeur, except death and rejection by cheerleaders."
"Not so, Monsieur Meursault. With Colonial Penn, you cannot be
turned down for any reason."
"What if you're on death row after having murdered an Arab?"
"I ... uh .... suppose that's okay. And there's no health questions."
"Like are you a syphilitic pimp or a drug addict who'll turn tricks for a
bottle of NyQuil?"
"Boy, you’re tough! Who picked you for this commercial,
the same guy who green lighted Gigli?"
"You see, Monsieur le Directeur," I explained, "we live in an absurd universe and our only option short of suicide is to seek to create within ourselves our own subjective and individual meaning, truth, and purpose. I've got the Cliff's Notes if you want to know more."
Suddenly I heard a voice. It was familiar and reassuring.
"Hello, I'm Alex Trebek, compensated spokesperson for
Colonial Penn Life Insurance. You know what that means: I'm Colonial Penn's bitch.
If you're between the ages of 50 and my age, now you can get life
insurance for less than 35 cents a day. That's less than the cost of a
newspaper, if anyone ever read one anymore. And your rate will never go up
and your paltry misleading benefit will never go down."
Gazing up at the dark sky spangled with its signs and
stars, I opened myself up for the first time to a universe throbbing with
meaning and purpose. I realized
at last that the answer to the mystery of existence was life insurance from Colonial Penn Insurance Group. Who could ever doubt the venerable host of Jeopardy? Who could doubt the man who's been bringing us Potent Potables for over thirty years?
"Y'know, Monsieur le Directeur," I said, "I'm going to call Colonial Penn today!"
"You'll be glad you did."
"Or maybe tomorrow, I can't be sure."