It’s Hot In There

If being light hearted about the dying process is not your thing, you may not want to read this column. I have, at times, been accused of being insensitive. I’m sorry if I offend.


There’s hot, and then there’s hot. And at the end of it all, there’s really hot but that’s a discussion best left for your preacher.

For now, when I say it’s hot, I mean hot like 97 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s pretty hot and will get most people talking. Below 97, it’s just another summers day in Middle Georgia. Some lemonade and some nice cold AC, all is well.

But let’s say you died and got yourself in the cremation line at the local


crematorium. How hot is that oven? It’s hot, like 1400 to 1800 degrees hot. While not surface of the Sun hot, since the Sun is 10,000,000 degrees or so, but still 1600 degrees (averaging it out) is pretty darn
 hot. The group Smash Mouth had a big hit with “Walking On The Sun.” Their video is awesome and reminds me of the B-52s (the band, not the bomber). What I remember is Maryl, my lovely oldest daughter, one time asked me if she could buy the latest Smash Mouth CD. I vetoed it as I couldn’t support a group called Smash Mouth. I’m okay with Strawberry Alarm Clock, Deep Purple, Doobie Brothers and Mott The Hoople, but no to Smash Mouth? I think I caved in later as I actually listened to their stuff and found it pretty good.

I digress. So 1600 degrees is hotter than your average home oven will get, so  you have to go to a crematorium to get cooked like that. In case you have an extra hot oven, doing this at home is prohibited anyway. The crematoriums got together and had a law passed that only they can cook people. Trying this at home on Aunt Ester will get you a misdemeanor. Even a funeral pyre is unlawful. (OCGA 31-12-5).

Turns out it takes more than two hours of 1600 degrees in the oven to get you cooked completely. The only thing left is bone fragments, which is what your loved ones can take home. But since your bones are still kind of chunky, your ashes are run through a processor to make a nice, fine powder. It was probably too much of the food processor that contributed to your death anyway, so one last spin isn’t a big deal.

Here’s some things I learned recently about the crematory experience. You still get a casket. Doesn’t have to be as fancy as normal, but it can be. You can even rent a really nice one for your viewing, and then switch to the pine box for the baking part. People want to go out with a certain sense of style after all. And then once the cookies have been cooked, so to speak, you are put into an urn, which costs yet again. That dying is expensive, but living ain’t cheap either.

You cannot be double cremated. So if your loved one goes out with you, it’s a double dose of oven time. If you take anything with you into the cremation, it’ll not come out, so important things like jewelry need to be left behind. I’ve always thought that an Ipod with earbuds stuck in my ears would be a cool way to sign off, but I doubt Mary Ann would go for that. I know it’d never survive the 1600 degrees since they can’t even survive being left in a hot car.

In Georgia you can’t legally be cast into the wind at the beach. Nope, you gotta go at least three miles out to sea. And you can’t be buried in your container. And whoever does the ceremony has to do an affidavit about where the remains were cast. We got regulations aplenty. (OCGA 31-21-4).

The closing scene of The Big Lebowski (not for the timid) is Walter (John Goodman) scattering Donny’s ashes about. Unfortunately,  a gust of wind comes up and blows Donny all over The Dude’s (Jeff Bridges) face, especially into his beard. Not sure that scene could have been shot in Georgia, as casting ashes out to sea means taking a boat ride. And at the end of the day, wouldn’t a boat ride and swimming with the sharks have been a lot less trouble?

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