Come Get Some (a Eulogy)

    The following is a eulogy written for my Aunt Sandy, who passed away this year. I’m not sure the Rochester Coenes knew what they were getting into, when they asked me to write a piece for her memorial. Fortunately, her daughter loved it. Let’s hope the rest of the family does too.


    I have always looked at my Aunt Sandy as the punk rock archangel of aunthood. To me, she represented cigarettes, alcohol, brown teeth and sass. She was sarcasm, she was sweatshirts, and she was that ungodly pair of owlish spectacles, which I am positive every hip American teenager will be wearing within the next five years.

    All my memories of Aunt Sandy come from my teenage years. I had just discovered that hair gel could instantly transform my skull into a dangerous nest of not-so-jagged spikes, and from the mall I had begun to purchase clothing adorned with anarchy symbols (the irony was lost on me, at the time). In such a phase of angst, rebellion and confusion, Aunt Sandy was an adult who made sense to me. I thought Aunt Sandy was beautiful.

    There was a certain grace to the way she kept her legs crossed, with one hand folded across her chest so the opposing elbow could perch upon it, thus keeping her cigarette near to her mouth at all times. She had swagger; she had style. She offered sarcastic quips as if they were proverbs, and she was honest whether you wanted the truth or not. She unabashedly adored her fluffy little Bichon Frise, which I had thought was an awfully prim breed for such a tough broad.

    All this was interesting, but I had yet to develop the ability to really analyze and appreciate the contrast in all these different aspects of her character. Remember, I had believed the lyrics in Green Day’s Dookie were like the i Ching. I was intrigued by her, but any poetry to her being was way over my spiky little head.

    What ultimately elevated Aunt Sandy from “cool aunt” to “rock star” was her merciless hankering for inappropriate video games. She had played several—-Boogerman, and Toe Jam and Earl, to name a couple. I’ll mention Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine, but that one wasn’t exactly inappropriate. There was one game, however, that she loved far above the rest…

    Duke Nukem.

    Allow me a moment to explain the Duke universe, for those poor neglected souls who never had the opportunity to bask in his divine glory. Duke Nukem was released in 1996. America was just recovering from an addiction to meatheads such as Stallone, Schwarzenagger and Segal. For too long our movie screens had been infested by bulbous balloon muscles pumping sweaty slow-motion bullets from an infinite clip of ammo into anonymous bad guys, who were either Russian or Vietnamese, mostly. America had finally realized the silliness of such films, and had reasoned that making action realistic would be more effective than making it macho.

    Duke Nukem appeared to help boot us into a whole new era of violence by serving as a parody of our testosterone-fueled past. What better way to recover from travesty than to make jokes about it, no?

    With a cavernous voice like a cross between Clint Eastwood and Bruce Campbell, Duke exploded onto the screen, mowing down slews of nasty aliens using a vast array of ridiculous weaponry. One of these weapons was the Microwave Expander, which Duke would fire at his target until its body, well… over-expanded. He would also take steroids, and relieve himself in the urinals with a satisfied, “Aaah…”

    Duke was violent and gleefully inappropriate, and just when you thought he couldn’t be any more of a rascal, out came the babes.

    Duke loved his babes. He really loved his babes, but he was definitely not in love with his babes. Upon being prompted, any of these lovely damsels would happily reveal themselves to Duke as he handed them a dollar and said, “Shake it baby,” or, “You wanna dance?”

    And really, that’s where Duke Nukem shined. The voice-actor’s name was John St. John, and they couldn’t have found a better person for the job. Blow up a group of aliens? “Let God sort ’em out.” Look at Duke’s reflection in the mirror? “Damn, I’m lookin’ good!” Make a bloody mess in the grocery store? “Looks like clean-up on aisle four.” Examine a Duke Nukem themed pinball machine? “I don’t have time to play with myself.”

    My spikey-haired little mind thought these witticisms were hilarious and indeed I still do, but nobody was more delighted than my Aunt Sandy. She would play for hours, and laugh every time Duke uttered a sentence. One of her personal favorites was, “Blow it out ‘yer ass!”

    So why am I talking about this stuff? Why am I writing about such an inappropriate topic? Isn’t it a bit too inappropriate, given the circumstances? Who is this guy, anyway? Jeffrey’s son? Ooooh, that explains it.

    To this day, I have a habit of being inappropriate. I’ve gotten very good at it over the years. If you carry yourself in just the right way, you can say pretty much anything without angering anybody at all. I believe I inherited this ability directly from Aunt Sandy and for that I thank her—it has served me well.

    I’m not writing all this to get cheap laughs, or because I enjoy being provocative (I do, but that’s beside the point). I’m writing about this memory because Aunt Sandy relished the inappropriate, and that’s precisely what made her so beautiful. She was radiant with knowledge of herself, and confident in every decision she made, every sentence she spoke. She acquired her confidence by not caring what anyone thought about her. We all think it’s funny when Duke steps in a pile of alien poop and says, “Eh, shit happens.” Aunt Sandy was the only one brave enough to express it at the dinner table.

    This year, fifteen years after Duke Nukem, a sequel has finally been released. In memory of Aunt Sandy, I purchased it the very day it came out. The company has clearly made an effort to modernize Duke in the only way possible–by increasing the level of his vulgarity. Every time he says, “My balls, your face,” I think of Aunt Sandy. And you know what? I bet that’s exactly how she would have wanted it.


In Memoriam – Sandy McFarland

Published in: on July 16, 2011 at 1:58 pm  Comments (3)  
Tags: , , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: