I always tend to look back on things on this day every year, actually I mostly just look back on all of my failures… of which there are many. Obviously there are some big ones from just the last few years but there are also the many small ones like not taking a step I wanted to take or being hesitant in a moment I shouldn’t have been. Or declaring that I have, in fact, listened to several Pitbull songs.
But this year something cropped into my head that ultimately didn’t have anything to do with me, and I would like to share that experience with you, my loyal readers (all both of you).
To set the stage, this was in the late 2000s when there was a huge ice storm that blanketed this part of the country (maybe 2006? 2007?). America had not yet entered into the Obama years, a period of decency and not rewarding being a scumbag. Bush was still smirking his way to really low approval ratings, David Bowie had not yet died, and Siegfried and Roy were ostensibly still a thing.
I received a call from my Mother in the dark of winter that my uncle, grandmother, and my uncle’s boyfriend were in a car accident, and that it was bad. I’ll gloss over these details, so long story short my uncle broke legs, my grandmother ribs, and Chris, the aforementioned boyfriend, fell into a coma. Sadly he was not long for this world.
Chris ultimately annoyed the shit out of me. He was by all accounts a nice guy, but he was that sassy kind of gay that believes there is one way to do things – his way. We never really clashed, because I know better than to argue with anyone in my family. It’s just not worth it. And my uncle Jamie and he had been together for so long that he was most certainly part of the family (remember, this was before society considered them to be human, so there was nothing official).
If memory serves, it was a few months after the accident that the plug was finally pulled and Chris’ last breaths escaped his shell of a body. The funeral was held in Miami, Oklahoma (pronounced My-am-Uh, for all you unknowing heathens out there), and it was, as most funerals are, a somber affair. Chris’ family was there as was mine, and plenty of friends as well.
The event was full of standard funeral fare; everyone speaks to one another with a corpse sitting mere feet from them, people who haven’t seen each other in ages awkwardly hug with a corpse sitting mere feet from them, and black clothing abounds… with a corpse sitting mere feet from everyone. The time came for us all to take our seats and everyone filed into position. Next comes the true travesty.
As we all take our seats it’s time for the music to cue. The person in charge of selecting the songs (probably Jamie, rest his soul – but that’s a different horrible story) decided that this was the moment that everyone would silently sit together and take in an important song, something to really hammer home the reality of the situation. Surrounded by family and friends, the familiar keyboard sounds began to play and we were treated to none other than Drift Away by Uncle Kracker.
Ok so sure, the lyrics are obviously a nice nod to Chris’ easy-going ways and a sweet send off. Perhaps if it were the original song as performed by Mentor Williams it would have felt more profound, and though it’s arguably a country song, also somehow less hokey. Instead we get to hear a man who, when picking out his pseudonym, chose to label himself not only an uncle – potentially one of the creepiest family members, but also Kracker with a K.
That may have been the hardest 4 minutes of my life. I had many emotions running through my head including sadness that Chris was gone, but mostly rage over the existence of Uncle Kracker. And before you get all huffy about it, I totally understand that people have different musical tastes. Some people like Ariana Grande for fuck’s sake. But I would take goddamn All Star over Uncle Kracker at a funeral any day.
Sitting in that church, where I’m always uncomfortable regardless of the scenario, listening to Drift Away was like going through the entire Kübler-Ross model in a span of minutes. There was denial that this was happening, anger at the concept of Sir Kracker, bargaining that at least it wasn’t that Follow Me song, depression that I could do nothing to remedy the situation, and acceptance of my own Uncle Kracker related mortality.
After the completion of the song, the pastor or rabbi or whatever they are began to speak and the rest of the funeral was a complete blur. I know people spoke, Jamie wept, and we all paid our respects. I was amazed to discover afterwards that not a single funeral-goer brought up the music choice. It was as if all 50 people in attendance were totally cool with what just happened. In hindsight, it might just have been that none of us were ready to talk about it. Here it is 10+ years later and I’m just now bringing it up.
As I approach my impending death with yet another year of suffering, intolerance, and bad knees, I perhaps feel that I am older and wiser now. I may no longer start as many arguments with those I love, and I may no longer have the patience for people I detest, but I do still know that what I witnessed that cold day many years ago was wrong. And I’ll do everything in my power to stop it from ever happening again.
Um, also apparently Uncle Kracker just released a new album called Midnight Special. He also is, according to his website and mailing list (which are utter abominations and detrimental to a successful society), headlining the “3rd Annual Guys with Guitars Under the Stars.”
I pray for our future.