Sunday, June 22, 2008

New England Funeral Style

It was my sad duty to attend a funeral Friday, in the southern Maine town of York.

York is too close to Boston for comfort. The town is very Ye Olde - quaint, no doubt, and it would be fun to have a place there, but still.

Anyway, the bulk of the attendees were from York or suburban Boston, and while we waited for things to get underway I surveyed the crowd, checking on what the men deemed appropriate for the grim occasion.

(It beat dwelling on the untimely death of my friend.)

So my highly unscientific survey results are:

  • Buttondown collars outnumbered all others ten to one.
  • About half the men wore dark suits. A couple of them looked like Brooks or Press sacks.
  • The men that weren't in suits wore blazers and trousers ranging from standard chinos to grey wool.
  • One iconoclast wore a black 6 x 1 double-breasted suit, a black long-sleeve t-shirt, and some sort of rubber-soled black shoe like a Rockport. He was about 6' 4" with grey hair, hawk-like profile, and a pronounced limp (which might explain the shoes). Not my style at all, but he looked pretty good. The suit fit well, which always helps.
  • Another sport wore what appeared to be a green linen blazer and very light blue trousers with a Weejun-style loafer. He also had a sort of magenta-ish pocket square. My friend was a bit of a nut; I think he would have appreciated this blaze of color in the otherwise drab landscape.
  • Half the men, whether in suits or more casual rigs, wore tassel loafers. I have never seen so many in one place - not even a shoe store.
  • I was decked out in my Official Funeral Suit, which is an Oxxford charcoal pinstripe with a 3/8 lining (helps in the summer); and is a bit of an oddity with the jacket being a two-button undarted model and the trousers with double forward pleats. I have thrifted or eBayed several Oxxfords and their cut really seems to work for me. I found this one in a thrift shop.
Mike was a hell of a nice guy who struggled mightily with alcoholism, which is how I came to know him - first as his counselor, and later as a friend. When he left our friendly confines at the treatment center he had a solid plan. I was as optimistic as I ever get about these things.

Alas, the wreckage of his past (and, perhaps, his inability to acknowledge and accept his role in creating the situation) led him back to the sauce. The hotel maid found him in the bathtub. He basically exploded inside, and bled out through his nose and rectum.

He was 50.

One thing that cheered me up a little was the report from his wife that Mike had enjoyed a peaceful and happy Father's Day with both his children - his daughter had been very reluctant to even speak with him a few weeks ago, so Mike must have been doing something right.


Tony Ventresca said...

Interesting observations, esp. about the footwear. I was a bit grossed out by the description of your friend's demise, but I guess it's a good cautionary tale for aspiring alcoholics.

Anonymous said...

I had a similar experience with a relative. During the eulogy, the pastor commented that we all knew about the battles Sam had lost; we didn't know about those he had won. I always wear a navy suit, white shirt and navy polka dot tie to funerals.