Rows were filled with people. Everyone settled into their seats. A few people talked. Not in a rude way. Probably in a respectful way, saying something about George. The first row was sparsely occupied by a few people, all in tears, all hunched over, quietly sobbing to themselves. They didn't seem too focused on the crying though. They seemed to be either learning how to bottle it and hide it or trying to get it all out of their system. They were thinking about the speech. That's what it's called, right? The eulogy comes later? They save that for a family member or loved one, surely? Or do we call it a eulogy even if it's from the guy who only learnt of George after death, and probably has all he knows about the man summed up in cliff notes in his pocket to learn beforehand. Yeah, I'd say that's the case. It'd be weird to say the minister gave a speech on George. It makes it seem like it's accompanied by PowerPoint slides and a brief Q&A. Eulogy sounds better.
By the time the eulogy started, the front row had quieted down a bit, and kudos to them. The guy at the head of the crowd went over the basics. He said some sweet things. Talked about the time when George was twenty-two out working in the bog. Talked about when he met his wife in London. Made some jokes about George. Made some jokes about the man in the coffin who he never met or knew a thing about until this week. People all laughed and sighed along with him.
A few other people took turns standing up to say some words. One of said people had just taken her seat and the room was quiet as another of said people made his way to the front.
That was when it happened.
How no one laughed I have no idea, and certainly not for lack of thought on the matter. It's been two days and I'm still thinking about it.
Even I didn't laugh.
I should have laughed then. Everyone should have laughed then. I can't laugh now. Everyone else'll go laugh about it now, but it's no laughing matter. Well, it was a laughing matter at the time but the fact no one laughed is no laughing matter. A no laughing matter that's no laughing matter. Now that's a laughing matter.
Why didn't I laugh then? Farts are funny. A fart at a funeral. Yeah, it sounds lewd, but it's pretty damn funny. In fact, the lewdness should add to the humour. There's a fart. The epitome of primal humour. The sound. The smell. The accompaniment of the cartoonish imagery of a butt.
All that primal energy is put into a pack of people wound so tight by tragedy. That primal energy should burst into a room like that and throw everyone in it into hysterics. Give them all laughter for a minute or so, whether it was respectful or not I'm sure the majority of that room would feel a lot better if they had taken that opportunity to laugh and let some light mix in with their darkened world full of people in dark suits and dresses. Everyone in that room would be bonded by that moment. And, I honestly think that would include George. Even after death, a story could have been created involving him. But no. Not a soul laughed. Everyone sat in a silence held on the brink of falling apart. A single crack should shatter that entire atmosphere in an instant.
But there was no crack.
There was no snigger, no giggle, no muffled chuckle. Nothing to start the shift.
Everyone did a great job. When that noise echoed out in the room everyone was on it. They locked themselves down instantly. Not a lip twitched. It was a presentation of perfect mourners mourning perfectly. Respect for the dead came before all else in that moment. Because isn't that what sets man apart from animal?