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On the Whole, I’d Rather Be in Philadelphia | Manolo for the Big Girl

On the Whole, I’d Rather Be in Philadelphia

The story goes that the above quote is what W.C. Fields wanted for his epitaph. Alas, humorless folk left him stuck with the mere legend of ‘1880 – 1946.’ That’s entirely too dreary and prosaic for a man who epitomized anarchic humor in his work. BTW, if you have never seen The Bank Dick, go thou forth and have some good belly laughs.

Anyway.

I’ve long had a fondness for a good epitaph, or even a particularly ironic one. For instance, Bonnie Parker’s headstone reads:

As the flowers are all made sweeter
by the sunshine and the dew,
so this old world is made brighter
by the lives
of folks like you.

That’s right. Bonnie of Bonnie and Clyde is memorialized on her grave as someone who made the world a brighter, happier place. Well okay, then.

Then there are the ones that are unquestionably appropriate. For instance, George Carlin’s headstone reads:

“#$%& @!&% #?!$% @?*&!@^#!* @*$! &!%?”

What could possibly be a better way to remember the man who taught us about the seven dirty words you cannot say on television?

It’s also impossible to argue with Jack Lemmon’s epitaph:

2_jack_lemmon

As for me, well, if someone ever wants to erect a monument to my existence, I can think of few more fitting words than those on a pin a friend of mine gave me a couple years back: Come to the dark side. We have cookies.

Either that or Douglas Adams’ words about Earth: Mostly Harmless.

As per usual, I can’t decide. I like them both.

So what about all of you? How would you like to be remembered in the great hereafter? What words would you like future generations to puzzle over concerning you? Is there an epitaph you’ve seen or heard of that makes you laugh or makes you think? Share with the class!

24 Responses to “On the Whole, I’d Rather Be in Philadelphia”

  1. Julia May 1, 2010 at 12:28 pm #

    I’ve long been torn between two possible epitaphs, which are both sayings that I have become notorious for among my friends:

    “I was just trying to help”
    or
    “Hey, what’s this do?”

  2. Elizabeth May 1, 2010 at 12:29 pm #

    Mine would* totally be a line from my favorite song: Wheel, by John Mayer. (I also want it played at my funeral.)

    “I believe that my life’s gonna see the love I give returned to me.”

    *I hope to be cremated, so no tombstone for me.

  3. Breanna May 1, 2010 at 12:33 pm #

    My favorite is one my mother took a picture of. It reads “He was right and we was wrong, but we strung him up and now he’s gone.”

  4. Omnibus Driver May 1, 2010 at 1:37 pm #

    I’ve always loved the epitaph given for circus performers — “Saltavit… Placuit… Mortuus est.” (She danced about. She gave pleasure. She is dead.)

  5. Janey May 1, 2010 at 3:28 pm #

    I’ve always assumed mine would say “Did not live up to potential.”

  6. Esti May 1, 2010 at 3:59 pm #

    I’ve always appreciated the grand egotism of W.B Yeats, who worked his own proposed epitaph into the end of the poem “Under Ben Bulben,” a contemplation of art and wisdom. The last stanza reads,

    Under bare Ben Bulben’s head
    In Drumcliff churchyard Yeats is laid.
    An ancestor was rector there
    Long years ago, a church stands near,
    By the road an ancient cross.
    No marble, no conventional phrase;
    On limestone quarried near the spot
    By his command these words are cut:

    Cast a cold eye
    On life, on death.
    Horseman, pass by!

  7. Toby Wollin May 1, 2010 at 4:13 pm #

    Considering I was left the keeper of the cremations (‘cremations’? ashes) of my mom, my dad and my dog, I’m thinking of having all of them put in the box with me when I go and have the stone say, “We’re all in this together” as fairly appropriate. On the other hand, if I’m in there by myself, I’ll go with “Made you laugh”.

  8. Julie May 1, 2010 at 5:17 pm #

    Mine will probably say, “We will miss her cookies.”

  9. wildflower May 1, 2010 at 5:52 pm #

    Toby, this sounds like a pun, but I think it’s a real word–“cremains”. :)

  10. penguinlady May 1, 2010 at 7:12 pm #

    I’d very much like a small engraving of a penguin (or a giant carving of a trumpeting penguin – whichever works) with the words “An Odd Bird” on it.

  11. jen209 May 1, 2010 at 10:13 pm #

    I would want the immortal words of the Beatles:

    And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.

    And @Elizabeth – I’m also a John Mayer fan, and always thought of that line as his version of my fav Beatles line.

  12. Geogrrl May 2, 2010 at 12:09 am #

    Hum. Well, one of my favourites comes from Black Adder: “Here lies Black Adder… and he’s bloody annoyed!”

    I’ve often considered that one as an epitaph.

    Or some lines from Jimmy Buffet’s “He Went to Paris”

    “Some of it’s magic, some of it’s tragic, but I’ve had a good life all the way.”

    However, as my epitaph will (I hope) be written by those that know me best, it will likely be:

    “How hard could it be?”

  13. Courtney May 2, 2010 at 1:46 am #

    If someone gives me a cheeful epitaph, I will come back and haunt them.

  14. bush piglet May 2, 2010 at 4:42 am #

    I’d like to borrow the one I saw years ago “the only limits are in your imagination” because I cant borrow Billy Connolly’s “Do you know you’re standing on my balls”

  15. Kath May 2, 2010 at 8:00 am #

    “I told you I was sick” is a favourite of mine. Or perhaps “Is that the time already?”

    Billy Connolly always said he wants a huge big headstone, really enormous, with teensy tiny writing on it that you have to get up really close to it to read, that says:

    “You’re standing on my balls.”

  16. annie May 2, 2010 at 12:16 pm #

    Have I been black listed? My comments do not show.

  17. Whitney May 2, 2010 at 2:08 pm #

    My husband and I like to wander old cemeteries and look at the stones. We’re particularly intrigued by those husband-and-wife stones, with both spouses on one stone – but one spouse’s death date never filled in. “A-ha,” we wonder, “Had enough of him/her in life, did s/he?” On one of these stones is one pre-filled with everything, including hubby’s birth-death, hubby’s epitaph, wife’s birth, wife’s epitaph, and NOT her death. Given her epitaph, I can see why: “She did all that she could”

    Right now mine’s a tossup between “That looks easy” and “I did it for the smooches.”

  18. Lady A May 2, 2010 at 7:41 pm #

    I have always liked Dorothy Parker’s suggestion: “Excuse My Dust”. (but then, what is not to love about the divine Ms Parker?)
    Mine should probably be “My own personal tragedy will not interfere with my ability to do good hair.”

  19. Plumcake May 3, 2010 at 10:05 am #

    @annie You haven’t been blacklisted, but your email does contain a word that gets caught in our spam filters, so it’s automatically going to go into moderation.

  20. KLauren May 3, 2010 at 1:29 pm #

    In the words of the immortal Dorothy Parker – “What fresh hell is this?” or my favorite saying of late is ” Where are we going and why am I in a hand basket ?”

  21. LL May 3, 2010 at 1:58 pm #

    “I told you I was sick”

  22. JB May 3, 2010 at 2:08 pm #

    My favorite headstone EVER is in Grove Street Cemetery in New Haven, CT and it was erected by the late lady’s husband, is small, and easy to overlook. It says:

    What a Woman.

    I bet they had a damn good marriage.

  23. bush piglet May 4, 2010 at 11:37 pm #

    Bugger. I knew I got that quote wrong!

  24. AcceptanceWoman May 14, 2010 at 1:04 am #

    I’m loving so many of these.
    My favorite quote from Calvin Trillin, “It’s too soon to tell.”
    Right now, I’m leaning toward, “Finally, I can get some rest!”
    Maybe
    “I’ll get to this eventually”
    “Read to me”
    “Miss me?”
    “Just one more email and I’m coming to bed”
    “It’s just around the next hill”