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Honolulu Lite

by Charles Memminger

Friday, May 19, 2000

Dirt to dirt, moon
dust to moon dust

CAN'T we just leave the moon alone? During the Cold War, there were secret plans to explode an atomic bomb on it to scare the Soviet Union.

Now, it turns out that a private company plans to start a burial service on the moon. Actually, Celestis Inc., wants to crash-land a space vehicle loaded with the cremated remains of dead Earthlings on the moon.

Poor moon. It's filling up with junk faster than an empty lot behind a trailer park. You need EPA permission to build a 7-Eleven but you can defile the pristine moonscape with space junk and dead people all you want.

Celestis sees the moon as the brave new world of the mortuary industry.

"We are trying to open the space frontier for everyone," Celestis honcho Charlie Chafer told the Associated Press.

Sure, but, come on. Who wants to spend eternity on a cold, distant moon? I think a parent would be a tad disappointed if their kids sent them to the moon after death.

Ron Hast, publisher of Mortuary Management magazine (now THERE'S a publication you race to your mailbox to get!) expects that there are people who want to be buried on the moon. And, at $12,500 per customer, space burial could be a big money-maker for cosmic undertakers.

According to an Associated Press story, the first shipment of 200 remains could come as early as next year. Cremated remains of a person weigh about six pounds, but only seven ounces will actually go to the moon. (Obviously, everyone will be "split" on the subject of intergalactic burial.) The ashes will be put into lipstick-sized capsules and launched on the four-day journey.

I suspect that the service will be used by survivors to send deceased not-so-beloved ones as far away as possible. Why do I sense that the first payload will have a disproportionate number of mothers-in-law in the hold? Remember Jackie Gleason's famous line in "The Honeymooners" when he got mad at his wife? He'd wave his fist and yell, "Trip to the moon, Alice! Trip to the moon!" So sending a loved one to the moon could be viewed as more ironic than romantic.

Just in case the symbolism of the star trek isn't enough, each capsule will be inscribed with an epitaph. This is where the enterprise gets tacky. No, I'm sorry. This is where the enterprise gets tackier. Two actual epitaphs are, "What A Magnificent View" and "My Spirit Roams the Stars." My gag reflex roams my throat.

As much as I detest the entire idea of humans dumping their dead on heavenly bodies, if they insist on doing it, I must help them come up with better epitaphs. Here are a few possibilities:

Bullet How the Hell Did I Get Here?
Bullet I've Made an Ash of Myself
Bullet I Am From Earth. Take Me to Your Ashtray.
Bullet Hey, I Can See My House From Here!
Bullet Seven ounces? Honey, on the Moon You Aren't an Ounce Over Four.
Bullet I'd Rather be on Alpha Romulon Beta Seven.
Bullet Mother-in-Law on Board.
Bullet I Said "Bury Me MOONING, You Putz."
Bullet "Here Lies Georgie in a Lipstick Tube."
Bullet "Stuck on the Moon Like a Cosmic Rube."
Moon burial might be a small step for mortuary businesses, but it's a giant embarrassment for mankind.

Charles Memminger, winner of
National Society of Newspaper Columnists
awards in 1994 and 1992, writes "Honolulu Lite"
Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Write to him at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin,
P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, 96802
or send E-mail to or

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