By Diane Ako
There are several national funeral conventions and a few international ones, as well. They go by different names. I call 'em all Death Expo.
Claus has been regularly attending them as part of his professional commitment. He goes for all the reasons people go to conventions: to learn about new products and trends, and network with colleagues. Overachieving undertaker.
He just went to one in Canada. I was a single, working mom for a week - difficult, but that's a whole different story, one in which I emerged with a mild cold.
As I was taking him to the airport, I asked, "So, what do you do after the convention day is over? Do a bunch of you go dancing or something?"
He looked at me like I was nuts. "Um, no. I go back to my hotel and have dinner with Sal (a mainland colleague/friend) or alone," he said. "It's actually not a barrel of laughs there."
He's said similar before, but I thought I'd still ask. One never knows if things have changed.
I guess they have not since the one convention I attended. It was Paris, 2009. Even the City of Lights didn't put the fun in "funeral convention." It was a little surreal walking around a huge convention center surrounded by rows and rows of caskets and urns. That was a new one for me.
From that one, I actually brought back promo items for kicks. We still have European death tschotskes (pens, keychains, notepads, leveler - why leveler? Tombstone needs to lie flat!) scattered around the house. I have a canvas grocery bag that says COFFINS on it. I try to be mindful of where I bust that thing out.
I've been to some journalism conventions. Those were like a reality show, with dressed-to-impress talent shopping their tape to agents and news directors, and keynote speakers you'd recognize from network TV. I met Ann Curry at a national Asian American Journalists Association meeting once. The attendees would make friends randomly and all go out for food and drinks after.
Two of my friends are drug reps. Holy cow, those meetings sound like a blast. There's disco lights, loud music, and even scantily clad dancers on a pole as the entertainment.
Paul Drewes gets pressed into service to attend some of his wife's makeup conventions. I am keenly aware of what goes on there, because I'm usually the recipient of a text message warning that he's about to poke forks in his eyes to alleviate the boredom. Still, afterwards he said there's a really fun group party as a send off, if you're into makeup.
Claus thought about his previous Death Cons. "Well, there was this one time when someone hired a model to dress up as Elvira, stand by the casket, and hand out little skull lollipops. She would hand it to the men asking, 'Want a little head?' That was quite popular," he recalled.
Wow! Now that sounds like a page out of the playbook from the Adult Entertainment Expo!