I own one suit (charcoal gray) and one pair of dress shoes (black) to wear with it. When it comes to dress-up, I'm not really a Technicolor person. I bought them at the same time about six years ago to wear to my grandmother's funeral. Since then, I've worn them exactly twice; once to a friend's wedding and once to the funeral I'm going to tell you about.
Since I work for the U.S. Forestry Service as a ranger in Idaho, I spend most of my time outside and that means suits and ties are definitely not a requirement for the workplace. I'm also a thirty-four year-old single guy so I don't get dragged along to PTA meetings, community socials, ballet recitals, evenings at the opera or any of those things that require one to meet certain social conventions for dress and deportment.
My name is Jakob (Jake) Laar. I was thirteen when my family immigrated to the US from Estonia after the breakup of the USSR so I guess that makes me an ethnic Finno-Ugric, but then you might have guessed that from the name. (Just kidding; most people don't have a clue what a Finno-Ugric is, or care.) I'm five feet, eleven inches tall, about a hundred eighty pounds, strong and healthy. My fitness routine includes a daily aerobic workout, either in my little home gym on an elliptical runner or jogging along forest trails. I do some weights but I go for lots of reps and strength rather than a bulky, misshapen body.
I'm practically fanatical about the kinds of food I eat, I never smoked and I rarely drink more than two beers at a sitting and that was true even in my oat-sowing days at Colorado State University where I got my degrees. I suppose some would call me a health nut but hopes for immortality don't enter into it; everybody wears out eventually. I just don't want my body feeling like crap and degenerating into an amorphous blob while I'm still using it.
I believe I can honestly say I'm a little above average in the looks department, although I'm not so vain as to I think women consider me a hunk. But then I'm confident they don't find me repulsive, either. My body may be a little furry for some women's tastes but in spite of the current fad, I don't feel compelled to shave any part of it except my face and I only do that because my employer doesn't agree with me that forest rangers should present more of a rustic look. Of course this wouldn't apply to the lady forest rangers, although, I can think of one of my female coworkers who appears to be kind of sexually ambiguous.
I'm pretty well educated. I have a BS in biology and an MS in Forest Science. I read voraciously and I have a passion for music, especially classical, jazz and soft rock although I appreciate virtuosity in most genres. Good bluegrass really gets me going. Religion plays no part in my life simply because my brain is so steeped in the sciences that a supernatural anything makes absolutely no sense to me. My Roman Catholic mother lives with the certain knowledge that her only child is doomed to eternal damnation in the flames of hell. (Catholicism was unusual in Estonia; in fact, it was strongly discouraged under the old Soviet regime so when we immigrated, my mother made up for lost time and decided we should all aspire to sainthood. She's worse than a convert.)
As far as my sex life is concerned, I'd say I was serially monogamous; that is, I've had several lady friends through the years but only one at a time. None of my relationships has lasted for more than a few months because that's about how long it takes the squeeze du jour to conclude that anything as serious as marriage is just not in my plans and go off to explore more promising pastures.
It's not that I have anything against the institution of marriage. I just don't think I'm cut out for it and that attitude would surely wind up making us both miserable in the long run; sort of an unspoken barrier to total commitment. My partner would feel obligated to try to correct my errant thinking and I'd feel obligated to suggest (in the kindest way) that she fuck off. Not a good formula for matrimonial bliss. I suppose that makes me one selfish bastard but it's who I am.
Obviously, since I do have relationships and I am powerfully addicted to sex, I'm not a hermit or even close but I like my privacy and I'm quite comfortable with long stretches of solitude. I'd probably be an ideal pick for an extended space jaunt if they supplied a good porn library, a couple of Fleshlights and an adequate supply of lube. A properly programed, anatomically correct female sex robot would be even better because I could pretend she was real and there would be no question of where the relationship was going.
OK, enough of that. I'm not trolling for a mate so I'll stop with the bio. Well, a couple of other minor details: I shower often, I maintain good oral hygiene, I'm a Leo and my favorite color is Kelly green. So there, that's me in a nutshell.
The funeral in question was that of my mother's brother, Uncle Vladimir. At first I tried to beg off attending but Mom went into an absolute tizzy and finally browbeat me into submission. We're not Jewish but she could effectively contend for the "Jewish Mother of the Year" title when it comes to inflicting guilt. If you're a Jewish mother and you're offended by that, I apologize. See how it works? Anyhow, she moaned and kvetched that the dearly departed would be appalled that I disrespected him so much as to not attend his final send-off. It was no use arguing that the dearly departed was stone cold dead and would have no opinion about the matter one way or the other. She was convinced he would be watching from on high. As if!
My opinion of modern-day funerals is that they're the most incredible scam ever perpetrated on the general public. The cholesterol myth and the Iraq war are close behind. While it's perfectly reasonable and proper for family members to get together to console each other over the loss of a loved one, being manipulated into to feeling compelled to lay out thousands of bucks to a funeral service to pretty up the corpse for one last look and plant him or her in an indecently expensive box escapes all logic to my way of thinking. Talk about masters at playing the guilt card! Well it's obvious isn't it; the more expensive the funeral, the more you loved the former occupant of the corpse in the box; oh, and the more highly you'll be regarded by those who make it their business to keep tabs on those kinds of things. Even if you choose to have the body incinerated, you're going to take it in the ass to pay for all the trappings. Go figure!
See, I think many Hindus have the right idea: Build a bonfire in the back yard. Look, the body is going to oxidize and decompose in any event, isn't it? The only choices are whether it's gong to be fast or slow. When I go, I want my un-embalmed body to be dropped naked out of a plane or over the side of a ship into the middle of the ocean. The thought of being fish food doesn't disturb me in the least. The fish might appreciate it if you chopped me up into bite-sized pieces first. Being planted inside a box inside a vault doesn't even benefit the grass growing over the grave.
Yeah, yeah, I've heard it all before. This is an argument I'm never going to win so let's just agree to disagree, shall we?
OK, so I take a few days off to fly back to Pittsburgh and stay with Mom. Dad's in an extended care facility with advanced Alzheimer's so he's blissfully ignorant of all the claptrap surrounding his late brother-in-law's demise. The house is jam-packed with relatives because Uncle Vlad (as in Vlad the Impaler) was pretty much thought of as the family patriarch. And stinkin' rich. Personally, I never liked the guy. He was meaner than a junkyard dog and so tight-fisted he squeezed every penny 'til Abe screamed for mercy. Old clichés, I know but so apt.
And you know what? I doubt there was a single member of the extended family who had any love for the old skinflint anyway. Through some perverse, twisted logic, I suppose some of them attended the rites hoping to be favorably mentioned in his will that was scheduled to be read immediately following the funeral; like he was going to make his final decisions about the disposition of his wealth from the great beyond and after he saw who did and did not showed up. I was totally confident that, my own attendance notwithstanding, I would not be a legatee because he knew very well that I thought his most endearing quality was that he was an accomplished asshole. What's more, I told him as much on more than one occasion. I'm not anywhere close to wealthy but I certainly didn't have any designs on his personal holdings. I'd never be able to not think of all the people he'd conned, robbed and trodden underfoot through the years it took him to accumulate them.
Most of the older women in our clan still adhere to the old-world attitudes about the division of labor and I don't mean that in the Marxist sense. Those who grew up in the old culture still considered men's work to be men's work and women's work to be everything else. Ergo, the ladies were busy bustling around in the kitchen whipping out enough food to feed the entire neighborhood while most of the men sat on their oversized derrieres sucking on beer cans and shots of vodka and lamenting the sad state of just about everything. It seems to be a favorite pastime of East Europeans. Sometimes my own cynicism makes me fear I might have inherited that same curmudgeon gene.
.... There is more of this story ...