Thursday, May 20, 2010

Buried Alive...

I had originally thought to title this blog, "As I Knifed My Way to the Diamond Pit," but I figured "Buried Alive" would more quickly get your attention. Either, way, I'm lying.

Being buried alive is man's greatest fear, with the possible exception of public speaking. Being locked in a cemetery at night, or having a "friend" pretend to close a granite crypt door on you, are lovely experiences that allow you the thrill of vacariously being buried alive. Your blood freezes and panic reigns supreme. Really, there's nothing like it.

Allow me to relate my experience of being subterranean. Ever see those small above-ground crypts, the ones that look like miniature mausoleums? They're about 5 feet wide and maybe 10 feet long, having a height of maybe 7 or 8 feet. Granite, of course. You can't look inside because there are no windows. The structure looks too small to house coffins. So what's it all about?

More than likely, its simply a portal to an underground burial vault! Entire families may be housed below ground and there may be several flights of stairs taking you there. Once you open the granite door (no small feat), you decend the damp, musty stairs with flashlight in hand (a necessity, as burial vaults are seldom lit with electric lights!). Don't let the spiders and rats scare you.

I did this with a few friends once and it was a chilling experience. Even though I don't consider myself superstitious, I've had enough unexplainable things happen to me in graveyards that my imagination runs away with me, given the opportunity. So after drinking some wine and some nervous exploration of this crypt, I'm bringing up the rear as my 3 friends ascend the cold stone stairs. The lead guy has the light, and exits first. The 2 girls exit and begin to shut the door on me! They laugh and shout "Good night!"

Well, in the 5 seconds that elapsed between that and their reopening of the door, I reevaluated my protocol for choosing friends. I also got the blood-curdling shock to the system that one must get as the end looms. I often think of that last brick being laid in Poe's "Cask of Amontillado," and how I would like to take it and smack each of my friends in the head.


Behind the Scenes

I've had countless (well, actually, 732) experiences in cemeteries since 1997 that are not accounted for in my "StoneAngels" book. I expect to be much more prolific and detailed in this blog, since space is not an issue.

Regarding space, did you know that the "rule" of burying a coffin six feet under is not always followed? This is not really at the whim of unscrupulous gravediggers, but sometimes because of lack of space, rocky terrain, etc. Also, if you venture to New Orleans and stroll the cemeteries, you'll notice that because the city is below sea level, graves are not dug. Instead, miniature mausoleum tombs are built above ground. Bodies are placed in the tombs.

When the bodies decay, parts fall through a screen onto the ground. As I was picking up pieces of shells and rocks from the crumbling gravesites for my daughter to use in her jewelry-making, I realized that among those fragments were human teeth!

"StoneAngels" -- The Book!