If you can't say anything nice about the dead, say something funny.
If laughter is, as some say, a defense against death, then the conversation that took place one evening in Tilson, New York, was the best defense anyone could muster.
My wife Eileen and I were guests of Will & Courtia, a great couple, great individuals. Will, a New York photographer whom I had the pleasure of working with for a statewide account, was describing the slow, excruciating downslide of a much more famous photographer whom I will not name here, and his ever-decreasing circle of human attachments, brought on by the man's own despicable nature.
Finally, Will came to the shocking part where the photographer committed suicide with a pistol, an action that was clearly appreciated by all who had known him. He was that despised by everyone.
And that's when Eileen said, “So, his best shot was his last shot.”
As the howls of laughter finally subsided, Will, who was either too nice to leave the discussion of any deceased human on a negative note, or because he didn't want to be struck by a lightning bolt from an angry Ruler of the Universe, said that if he had been asked to deliver a eulogy, it would have to start with “We all miss him.”
And that's when I provided the honest second line for that eulogy: “But we're glad he didn't.”
And we all howled again. Since none of us were struck by lightning, I can only assume that we weren't punished because the Ruler of the Universe was laughing with us, and was too distracted to punish the blasphemers.