The Funeral Planner
CARLA sits alone in her room, reading hardback copy of Bridget Jones’s Diary and eating from huge bag of Swedish Fish. She occasionally reads a line out loud in British accent.
MOM (O.S.): Carla. Are you decent?
CARLA: Yeah, Mom.
MOM: Happy 30th birthday, honey.
CARLA: Thanks, Mom.
MOM: Thirty years old and still single.
MOM: After all that time I spent making vision boards for you...
CARLA: I don’t know what to tell you, Mom. I’m sorry.
MOM: Well I have a little birthday surprise for you. Wally!
WALLY enters, rolling a suitcase.
WALLY: Carla! (Hugs her enthusiastically) Wally Remington. Thrilled. We are gonna put together the most amazing ceremony for you.
MOM: He’s a funeral planner.
WALLY: I provide all the joys of wedding planning for people who are never going to get married. Your mother thought it would be fun to plan your funeral.
WALLY starts unpacking suitcase, pulls out and lays on table a big binder, unwraps tray of cake samples.
CARLA: This is insane!
MOM: This is insane? Do you know what’s insane? That you are thirty years old and still living under my roof.
WALLY: Carla, we want you to look at this as an opportunity to have a little fun, the chance to pick out those favors and centerpieces you always dreamed about.
MOM: Wally is the number one funeral planner on Long Island. Louisa Carpaglio told me at bunko night that he put together something spectacular for her daughter. I said gimme the number, I want him.
CARLA: Mrs. Carpaglio’s daughter died?
MOM: No honey, she’s not dead. She’s single.
WALLY: You can look through some of our package options here. (Holds out binder to MOM) And not to worry, we cover all price ranges.
MOM: I’ll have only the best for my daughter.
CARLA: I am not doing this.
WALLY: First, there’s the location.
CARLA: Wouldn’t it be a church or funeral parlor?
MOM (laughing): Oh, sweetie! This is why we need you, Wally. She never was good at thinking outside the box.
WALLY: Carla, these days, a lot of people are going edgy, you could have your funeral at a winery or an organic farm, or we could do a cruise or a destination funeral, it might be fun to get everyone down to Turks and Caicos.
MOM: And what are people doing now, open or closed casket?
WALLY: Well that depends how you want to do the photographs, if you want to do some formal ones with the body, you can leave it open. Take a look. (Shows MOM a page in binder)
MOM: Look at that girl. She is glowing. It’s almost like she’s still alive.
CARLA: That is awful!
WALLY: That’s our photographer Lars. He’s amazing. And then for the guests we also have the photo booth option, that comes with the fun zone tent.
MOM: Oooh, the fun zone!
WALLY: Yes, you get the photo booth, frozen margarita machine, and the moonbounce. For the kids.
MOM: We haven’t discussed food. Do you recommend buffet or sit down?
WALLY: Well you can go for a sit down if you want to come across as bourgeouis but really it’s not necessary. I mean, it’s a funeral. And of course you’ll do a next day brunch. Fresh squeezed orange juice. (Beat.) Bacon.
MOM: And the cake at the ceremony.
WALLY: We can do your face on a cake. I have some samples from our bakery. (Holds out tray of samples: four bite-sized pieces)
MOM (taking a piece): Oh, honey! Isn’t this fun? What’s that, buttercream? Honey, try this. It’s out of this world.
CARLA: I don’t like buttercream.
MOM keeps eating samples.
WALLY: We could also do whoopie pies. But please, no cupcakes. Cupcakes are over. Now...let’s talk about the dress.
MOM: Oooooh. The dress!
CARLA makes horrified noise.
WALLY pulls three black dresses on hangers from suitcase.
WALLY: We have a fabulous line out from J. Crew this season, there’s some beautiful accenting here, or this one has a darling little sash.
MOM: Oh my God. They are stunning. It’s so hard to choose. She might have to lose about ten pounds but you’ll come to Weight Watchers with me. We have time.
MOM: Look at this one. (She pulls dress off hanger and holds it out.) Try it on, honey.
CARLA: I am not trying on a funeral dress. I draw the line. This is sick.
MOM: You really don’t want to do this?
CARLA: No! Of course not! It’s twisted! I don’t want to do this! I’m happy being single! I don’t care about a wedding! I don’t need this!
MOM (sadly): Well, it’s your choice, honey. I’m not going to force you to do anything, even if it breaks my heart.
CARLA: Thank you.
MOM (leaping at her with dress): PUT IT ON!
CARLA (resisting): What? No!
MOM: I want to see my daughter try on her dress! I deserve this moment! Put it on! (She tries to put over her head)
CARLA: (still resisting) No!
MOM: Put - it - on!
They tussle, rolling on floor as WALLY watches anxiously. MOM fakes her out and they struggle. CARLA: You know I have a bad knee! etc. Finally it’s on. CARLA in dress, given up, collapses in chair, furious but accepting this ridiculousness. MOM steps back, fixes CARLA’s hair. Spits on finger and fixes smudge on her face. WALLY swoops in with some bronzer, dusts it all over. MOM puts hand over CARLA’s face, closing her eyes. CARLA sits there with eyes closed. MOM steps back and sighs with contentment.
WALLY (hands her a tissue): She is breathtaking.
MOM (grasps Wally’s hand and honks her nose): I am so proud.