While driving to the store today, I saw a family in a graveyard by the Baptist Church.
They were in lawn chairs and grilling.
Now, it’s difficult to shock me, and my list of things I’d consider “gauche” is pretty short. However, enjoying an Oscar Meyer wiener and playing frisbee amidst the mausoleums is one of them, particularly when there’s a perfectly nice, green park about five miles down the road that isn’t fertilized by the decomposing body of someone’s grandmother. Isn’t that the perfect setup to a horror movie? Some hapless family has a picnic in a cemetery and the angry spirits of the restless dead rise up to smite them?
I’m trying to think whether or not I’ve ever done anything remotely as insensitive in a graveyard. Surprisingly, no. I’ve done ghost walks, of course, but they were all sanctioned by official historical society people. I’ve done etchings off a farmer’s 1774 tombstone in a tiny little country cemetery in Tennessee, but I was quiet and respectful and didn’t drop a burger patty on holy ground. There’s a difference, I think, between visiting a graveyard to tour it, and visiting a graveyard because you can work your Green Egg. There’s a matter of respect.
I held my breath for the super-historical cemetery I walked past every day in Fredericksburg, Virginia. There’s an old Southern superstition to hold your breath as you pass by a cemetery lest the ghosts jump into you. I’m not sure what would happen if a ghost were to jump into you, but according to the tone of Southern tradition, bad things would follow. It probably wouldn’t be as awesome as anything Whoopi Goldberg could manage, just saying.
So it’s very strange to me to see people just… grilling away. I hope they had a good time and didn’t disrupt too many spirits. That cemetery is only a mile from my house, and I’ve seen Night of the Living Dead way too many times (“There coming to get you, Whitney!”).
And related to nothing, the tips of my brunette hair are now dyed blonde, and I can cross off one of the things on my list.