Caught Dead or Alive?

by Chikashi

‘I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing [fill in the blank]’ is a curious expression.  It probably has something to do with people’s obsession with death:  our mortality, the rituals following one’s death and the afterlife.  I admit to having used the expression at times, for example, ‘I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing lever-back or wing-back cufflinks.’  The truth is that I really do not care about what I might be wearing when I die because I do not expect to care much about anything once I am dead.

If I go up to paradise (Why is it always up but not down or just across, which would be an easier trip?) and am constantly being pleasured, then I am very unlikely to care about what I was wearing when I died.  If I descend to meet Hades (Why is it always a descent?  Wouldn’t that mean all the smoke and smell of burning flesh go up to heaven and irritate everyone up there, spoiling their fun?), then I probably have bigger problems that would make me forget about the fact that I was wearing slightly tatty boxer shorts when I croaked. (Shouldn’t someone warn this knave Hades about his carbon ‘footprint’ resulting from all that burning?  How does a thing, even in a gaseous state, have a footprint?  What I really want to know is, has it got toes?)  If I get reincarnated, then I expect to have no memory of the previous life or, as it happens, death.  If there is no afterlife or reincarnation, then, well, what’s the fuss?

What I actually mean by the quip about lever-back cufflinks is that I would not be caught alive wearing them.  After all, that is the only phase, if one can call it that, over which I have some control and influence and of which I am cognizant.  Plus, I do not live for the afterlife.

One conceivable explanation might be that some people are concerned about their ‘legacy’ being adversely affected by the choice of garments and accessories or companion, as the delicious case may be, at the time of one’s, presumably untimely, death.  It must be torturous to live in constant fear of what people might say after one’s death.  If one’s legacy is such that the choice of socks can affect it one way or another, then I should think that one has an underlying, slightly more fundamental problem, in which case, I suppose that there is reason to be fearful albeit the real reason is likely to be unrelated to socks or whatever.

St Michael Archangel by Fernando Botero, 1986

When the natty St. Mick comes to escort you, will your sense of dress meet his approval?  You have only one chance to impress upon the Archangel.  Need help?  Go see my friend Mr. Tim.

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