Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Grave thoughts on ultimate consumer item

Your voice: Lois Eha

In his Aug. 25 cartoon "The new face of supermarkets," the Enquirer's Jim Borgman depicts the variety of items now available in the new mega-supermarket. But Jim failed to mention the most unique, never-before purchase you could make in your supermarket. According to recent radio and television spots, you can now purchase your own (or a loved one's) casket. Yes, casket! As in funerals, burial.

You can stroll through your local Costco and, while munching on a sample of bacon-wrapped, cheese-filled hot dog, you can choose a casket. You might want to do this, the broadcaster points out, to save your loved ones the chore of selecting this final gift for you, or to be sure your loved ones don't opt for the cheap one.

The choice is probably not easy and requires some foresight and clear decisions. Fashion tells us that silver is in right now, but with all the Olympic hoopla, bronze might be good. Plain or decorated, flowers or scroll work? What about accessories? Do caskets come with wheels?

Does Costco offer a layaway plan, or do you have to take immediate possession? Is there delivery in a plain truck, or will the neighbors be shocked when they see the Casket Delivery truck in your driveway? Will the casket fit through standard doors?

One of the biggest problems I see is where to put the casket. Although I could move the piano, it might be a tad gauche (or ghostly) to have the casket in the living room. The most likely spot is the basement. Of course, everything that ends up in most basements becomes an immediate storage facility, and the casket could be a great place to store blankets and quilts, seasonal clothes or even all your Christmas decorations. If you're into crafts, you might want to lay a 4-by-8 sheet of plywood on it and have a great project table.

Having a casket in my basement would require some rules for my grandchildren. No shooting baskets in the basement now, don't put open soft drink cans on that, and definitely no riding it around the basement.

Although I'm not planning to make this ultimate purchase right now, I have thought that having a casket right next to the treadmill and the bicycle might be great. All the health gurus tell us that exercise is the way to a long and healthy life. The casket could be a reminder: It's on the bike or in the box!

Lois Eha of Finneytown is a retired educator who served as a curriculum director and a test coordinator. She now divides her time among family, educational consulting and wood carving.

Want your voice here? Send your column or proposed topic, 400 words or fewer, along with a photo of yourself, to assistant editorial editor Ray Cooklis at rcooklis@enquirer.com; (513) 768-8525.

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