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  D.F.'s Column Archive

April 30, 2007

Selling the Life Out of the Dearly Departed


The latest millionaire indulgence is to spend up to hundreds of thousands of dollars buying oneself a trip into outer space. Except for the tragic inevitability that these people will eventually return to Earth, I suppose there is nothing wrong with this.


If you want to spend that much money going into space, fine by me. You earned it. It’s your choice how to waste it.


While blasting off into space isn’t exactly my cup of Tang, I guess I can see why it would appeal to some people. It would be pretty cool to see the Earth from space. I’m just as happy looking at it on Google Earth and avoiding the nausea, but the eccentric Mr. Moneybags who wants to make the trip is welcome to his jollies.


What I can’t quite make sense of, however, is the appeal of being blasted into space when you’re dead. Not just dead, but burned to a crisp and reduced to a dusty concentrate that when properly colored would blend in nicely with any infield in America.


Let’s just say you’re in the sort of condition where you’re not going to enjoy the view very much. A tough sell? Not for UP Aerospace! They’ll blast your ashes into space for $495. And since you’re already dead by the time someone has to write the check, what do you care? When you look at it that way, it’s free for you.


The latest “customer” of UP Aerospace is James Doohan, who played Scotty on “Star Trek,” and at last report was decidedly still dead and reduced to approximately 438,324,432,002 pieces. It was only fitting, of course, that a few of those pieces be sent into outer space. He was accompanied by similarly charred pieces of an actual astronaut named Gordon Cooper, who presumably went along as Doohan’s tour guide – as it might be a shock to Trekkies to learn that Doohan wouldn’t know his way around outer space if he had an asteroid belt map.


And here I think of myself as an entrepreneur. Yet not once have I ever considered exploring the services-for-the-dead market (and I don’t mean funeral services, dipwad). Apparently dead people need a lot of things. We all know Walt Disney is frozen somewhere, along with Ted Williams, waiting for the inevitable medical breakthrough that will produce the cure for death.


It will be awfully complicated to come up with a cure for cremation, but did you see Terminator 2? It’s been far too long since this column mentioned T2, so you may need to be reminded of how the T-1000 was blasted into thousands of liquid nitrogen crystals, which collectively staged a reunion, went on tour throughout North America and Europe and then landed a role on the X-Files. If liquid nitrogen can do it, I believe in ashes!


What else can be done for dead people? Someone should explore a Weekend at Bernie’s line of services that give the dearly departed one last shot at a wild night of debauchery – or maybe a month. It seems the best test market for this would be communist dictators with really long beards. Indeed, I suspect some industrious Cuban may be test-marketing this service right now.


Perhaps dead people would be interested in many other services. Certainly a voter registration assistance service would be a big hit in Chicago. A lot of really rich dead people put their last will and testament on video. Who is going to handle licensing for the DVD releases?


I’m ashamed of myself for not having thought of this before. The dead marketing is exploding. New people are dying every day, and the number of dead people never goes down. There are many more dead people than living people, and they have lots of disposable cash. They don’t need to buy food. Life insurance is obviously a non-starter. And I can’t imagine their housing needs are very extravagant.


What’s more, they’re not high-maintenance customers. They never call you and yell. They don’t change their order on a whim or argue about a bill.


The dead market offers almost endless possibilities for the living. It’s a successful enterprise just waiting to be born. It’s a plot in which you should invest. Any team of entrepreneurs who wishes to dig in to this idea? I am in favor of its execution.


© 2007 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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