Waking up dead

The other day — Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020, in fact — I woke up dead. I knew I was dead because it was way past when I normally get up and I couldn’t feel or sense anything as I lay there in bed.

Surprisingly, being dead was not that much different than being alive. It was actually very relaxing, in a trance-like way. Kind of like being at a zoning board meeting.

There was one big difference about waking up dead. What happened was a movie started playing in my head. It was like the credits at the end of a movie, not the movie itself.

It started to list all the clubs I was a member of back when I was alive. Here’s the thing, though: I’ve been in a lot of clubs over the years, but the screen in my head was listing clubs I never knew I’d been a member of.

The first club listed was People who Blame their Parents for not being Perfect. Turns out this is a huge club (they listed the membership at the time I died and it was a big, long number with a lot of commas in it).

Among the reasons I was a member of this club was that I never got music lessons or swimming lessons or went to Disneyland or even had a yard or basement to play in. Still, I grew up in a loving Italian family and we ate like royalty every Sunday, so I was surprised I was in this club.

The things you find out when you wake up dead!

The movie kept scrolling. The next club listed was People who think they could have Done So Much More. This was strange as well.

I mean, when I was alive, I was a college graduate with a good job, a beautiful wife, and three educated, working, successful children. I had a lot of friends, tried to be a good person, and helped out whenever I could.

Then it pointed out that I at one time had a full scholarship to one of the best engineering schools in the country, but that I threw it away to live like I was in my own daily “Animal House” movie from my teens to my early twenties. Ouch.

I try not to think about that so much, because it really did happen. Somehow things turned out OK anyway, despite my best attempts otherwise.

Finding out when you’re dead what clubs you were a member of when you were alive isn’t always that great.

The movie screen kept scrolling. The next club I had been a member of was People who don't know when to Shut Up. Oddly, I had known all along when I was alive that I had been a member of this club, but that didn’t stop me from putting my foot in my mouth on a regular basis.

This is a really interesting club to be in. Why? Imagine you’re at a party and you ask the hostess, who is, shall we say, not slim, when she’s due. She then gives you The Eye and says “I’m not pregnant.”

From that moment on, for the rest of your life, you will be known in that circle as The Jerk Who Thought She Was Pregnant. That's why the People who don’t know when to Shut Up club is so extraordinary. It’s benefits never go away, even when you very much want them to.

I could go on but I’m sure you get the drift. Other clubs I had been a member of when I was alive, without even knowing it, kept on scrolling by:

— People who really don't want to know what's under those kilts;

— People who get suckered into political arguments on Facebook;

— People who wonder why men no longer have chest hair;

— People who are not as funny as they think they are;

— People who should listen more;

— People who shop at Walmart and then complain that nothing is made in the USA;

— People who think nobody can hear them passing gas;

— People who actually think the Minnesota Vikings will win a Super Bowl someday;

— People who hold grudges, like, for a long time;

— People who don't "get" cats even though the rest of the world is crazy about them;

— People who think pineapple on pizza should be a crime; and

— People with toenails that are in fact weapons.

Then the very last club appeared. It was called People who can Still Learn to Forgive.

The membership count for this club was, unfortunately, very small. This one was accompanied by a really deep, heavenly voice, like the guy in the Allstate commercial (“You're in good hands”).

The voice said, and I’m not making this up: “Frank, you did indeed wake up dead today but, if you agree to join this club — People who can Still Learn to Forgive — we'll agree to let you live so you can see your grandson again and ride your motorcycle and learn to play a few songs on the guitar. But you must promise to really make an effort to learn to forgive. It’s that important.”

The next thing I knew, my eyes opened, I reached over to feel if my lovely wife was still there (she was), and I realized that I was going to be allowed to live again. Hot dawg!

Waking up dead turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to me. I’ve already forgiven David Chase for ending “The Sopranos” (spoiler alert) with a blank screen, and I’m working on forgiving Stewart’s for getting rid of Star Gazer Lite ice cream.

Who knows who or what I’ll forgive next!