“Thank you for coming today on this sad occasion for all of us who knew our good friend. It falls to me to do the eulogy, after his beloved wife and children asked me. How could I refuse? How do we mourn a life well lived, particularly in the face of such profound tragedy? Across our town, so many funerals are taking place today, and in the days yet to come. All of us have been touched in one way or another. No survivor is left unaffected. All of us know someone who has passed on.
And all because of food poisoning.
Life is a strange thing. One moment you’re driving along on a leisurely afternoon’s drive in the countryside, the next you’re being plowed from the side by a runaway truck. One moment you’re strolling on a winter day, the next you’re slipping on ice and breaking your neck. One moment you’re helping yourself to one of your patented epic sandwiches, the next you’re choking.
We can remember our friend. We can remember the endlessly hungry, endlessly napping, endlessly bowling playing pal with the strange name and the curious hair. We can remember our beloved Dag. We can remember Dagwood Bumstead.
Dagwood seemed to have been around forever, didn’t he? Working away during the days as an office manager- when he wasn’t napping and getting chewed out by his boss, of course. Making those impossibly tall sandwiches that were practically a work of art. Working on naps on the couch. Spending time with his wife Blondie, their kids Alexander and Cookie, and their dog Daisy. There, there, Daisy, Dag’s in a better place now.
And he touched so many lives along the way. You know, Dag and I were best friends. Our wives were best friends. We lived next door to each other for years on end. Dag and I went bowling together, car pooled together. I borrowed tools from him all the time. We’d tease and heckle each other to no end, because hey, that’s what friends do, right? He’d tell me about his bad day with that old crank of a boss of his… oh, hi, Mr. Dithers! How are you today? I’m surprised you’re not up here complaining about how you have to find a replacement for Dag now that he’s dead.
Where was I? Oh yes. Dag.
How do we make sense of a death so tragic, a death so young? Especially of a stand up decent guy like him? Especially among so much more death? Maybe all we can do is talk about what happened. How it all came to be.
Maybe he wasn’t the first link in the daisy chain, as they say. Maybe he was the second. Maybe it started with that blind old man who got in his car two miles away. But for Dag, it started at home. In the kitchen. Where he was making one of his infamous Dagwood sandwiches. You know, I always used to wonder why Dag didn’t gain any weight considering the feasts he’d call a snack. Did he have an eating disorder?
I’m getting off track. What I’m trying to say here is simple. Or maybe not. Anyway, Dag was making that sandwich, happy as he could be, piling on meats and cheeses and artisan breads and all the condiments, no doubt thinking of how happy he’d be eating all that.
What he didn’t know was that instead of his usual pepper paste, someone at the factory had bottled a jar of Carolina Reaper pepper paste and mislabeled it. What you might not know is that Carolina Reaper is considered the world’s hottest pepper. What Dag didn’t know was that Carolina Reaper was the only thing in the world he was allergic to. So there’s Dag, finishing up making his big Dagwood sandwich, and he starts eating…
And then it happened.
Alexander said he was clutching his throat and turning blue. The doctors later said he was having an allergic reaction. He ran out the front door… and instead of running into the mailman as he so often did when he ran out the door, he ran into that kid Elmo from the neighbourhood. Since Elmo’s parents aren’t here today, I can feel safe in telling all of you that I never liked that kid.
Anyway, Dag ran into Elmo, knocking him into the street. It was at that very moment that the aforementioned old blind guy, Mr. Magoo, driving his car without a license, was coming. Dag collapsed on the sidewalk. Elmo got run over by Mr. Magoo, who never saw the kid. Magoo’s car spun out of control in a seventeen block careening route of carnage and disaster, knocking down pedestrians on the sidewalks, ramming into other cars, and finally hitting a propane truck.
The propane truck blew up. Biggest explosion this town has ever seen. Destroyed most of the hospital.
So there was Dag dying of an allergic reaction. What was left of Elmo pancaked in the street. Mr. Magoo burnt to a crisp inside what’s left of his car.
And it didn’t stop there.
The Warbucks mansion was destroyed. Oliver and Annie Warbucks were among the casualties.
A family of six visiting relatives here in town, all wiped out. Bil, Thelma, and their children Billy, Dolly, Jeffy, and P.J.. The weird thing is the relatives say it seems those kids never seemed to get any older. Well, now they won’t.
You’ve all heard about the Flagstons and the Thurstons. Hi, Lois, their children, all wiped out when one of the hospital boilers came crashing down on their home. And to add insult to injury, the boiler blasted apart right after crashing- and totaled the home of the Thurstons. Irma and Thirsty were… well, their funerals are going to have to be closed caskets. Severed in half by flying debris? You don't want to see that.
Camp Swampy was destroyed. Nearly every soldier and officer there killed when the second hospital boiler landed there and set everything ablaze. Except for Private Bailey, who was off in the woods napping.
The Duncan family have survived, fortunately. Jeremy’s van didn’t, and apparently the boy is heartbroken, because his guitar was inside. Walt, is it true that Jeremy wants to hold a funeral for his guitar?
There were rumours of talking cows, cavemen, mad scientists, and little geeky kids all running together away from the Larson Institute For Far Side Surrealism before the building collapsed. Given how reclusive the inhabitants of that building were, we still don’t know how the survivors are coping.
You know, if anyone would have been the cause of four hundred fifty eight people in this town meeting a horrible end, I would have thought it would have been that brat Calvin. You know, the kid who walks around with that stuffed tiger and seems to talk to himself a lot. The worst kid I’ve ever met. But no, he was off with his parents that day on some ‘character building’ camping trip and missed the whole thing.
That’s beside the point. What is the point is that our friend is dead. With four hundred fifty seven other people in town.
All because of a mislabeled jar of pepper paste.
Or a blind old man who should have been in a nursing home forty years ago.
Take your pick.
Well, goodbye, Dag.
You were the best friend anyone could have asked for.
We’ll all miss you. Even Old Man Dithers, who’ll have to start yelling at other people.
Oh, don’t look at me that way, J.C., we both know you’re going to miss the Dagster.
And for the record… I’ll get around to returning that power drill I borrowed, Dag. Sometime next week.”