Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Why the closed casket for JoePa?

Tomorrow will be another reminder that I must have been born with a heart of stone. They’re burying Joe Paterno and I’ll shed not a single tear.

Not that I’ll be dancing any ghoulish jigs over the loss. On the contrary, I admired JoePa and the way people loved him. His was a life well-lived.

Evidence of that is all over the Keystone State today. They’re standing grief-stricken in the drizzle for three hours to pay their respects to the coach in the rose-bedecked coffin.

Or at least they say he’s in the coffin. I’m always suspicious whenever any public figure is memorialized with a closed coffin.

People could be lining up to memorialize laundry bags of old gym towels. We’ll never know.

The conspiracy nut in me believes rich and famous people aren’t buried, but are stored until, well, you figure it out.

Why the closed coffin? His death wasn’t disfiguring. I’m sure there are some skilled Happy Valley morticians who could pretty up his face and make him look at peace or, better, euphoric as if the Nittany Lions had just crushed Michigan.

I’m also interested in JoePa’s death apparel. Is he wearing a business suit? A Penn State sweater? Will he go to his great reward shaking a blue and white pom-pom or holding one of those big foam fingers?

What people wear in coffins has fascinated me since last year when I did this story about nude tourism. I spoke to one nudist who was mourning the death of her mother, also a nudist.

I had to ask her: did you bury mom in the nude?

“No! She wore her favorite formal dress! What kind of question is that?”

Well, situationally, it was the perfect question. Honest and concise, it would have laid the necessary groundwork for a story about whether or not heaven will be clothing optional.

Call it an expose!

Back to Paterno: what about his eyewear? I want to know if they’re burying him in those big dorky glasses. I would. Not for sentimental reasons or because I’d imagine he’d go unrecognized without them. I just wouldn’t want them around.

They’re too iconic to just throw away, but to keep them would risk one of the grandkids setting up some little stand where gameday fans could pay $5 to get their pictures taken wearing Joe’s glasses.

Governor Tom Corbett ordered the flags flown at half-staff throughout the state, more evidence to me that the man’s a pandering goofball. I think the lowering of flags should be restricted to honoring our fighting men and women and people like George Washington, a man with whom I have at least one thing in common.

We both insist on open caskets.

Washington, it was said, had a morbid fear of being buried alive (I’d call it a logical fear). He insisted he be kept under vigil in an open casket for three days before any burial.

What if someone hears a rhythmic thumping from inside the Paterno coffin?

My, it would make all Tebow’s comebacks look puny.

I try and make it a rule to never love anyone I don’t know, but I am I’m saddened it all had to end for Paterno like it did. He deserved so much better.

We Pennsylvanians did a lot of speculating over the past 10 years about whether it was time for Joe to go. Some wanted him fired. Some wanted him retired.

Me, I wanted him killed.

The perfect ending for JoePa would have been for him to win no. 409 on October 29, a sub-freezing day at Beaver Stadium. I was hoping as he basked in the pre-Sandusky adulation of 100,000 fans, an exuberant linebacker would celebrate by dumping a 30-gallon drum of Gatorade on the coach’s head.

And that he’d die right there of cardiac arrest.

I’m sorry it didn’t happen just like that, Joe.

I really am.


Anonymous said...

I kind of wish that the Penn State students hadn't been throwing snowballs at the Illinois field goal unit, which may have caused the miss fg that if not missed would have meant that JoPa wouldn't have set that record. Not that I wouldn't want JoPa to get his record, but it would have been nice for him to tell his fans to behave in a sportsmanlike manner.

Yeah, so I am an Illini. So what of it?

Chris Rodell said...

Yes, I hate seeing that sort of hooliganism at any level. He certainly should have admonished against it. And thank you, my Illini friend, for taking the time to read and check in.

Unknown said...

Return statue of Joe Paterno to PennSt, erect adjacent statue of a 12yr old boy looking up at Joe P with inscription "Say it ain't so JoePa"

Chris Rodell said...

Perfect! Thank you, Matthew.

Anonymous said...

Agreed, Matthew.

I think the worst situation is when “icons,” who seem like good guys, totally destroy your trust. And in such a despicable manner too. Not convinced he didn’t finish himself off with a bullet to the head; ergo, the closed casket.