EDITOR: So, why obits?
ME: Dead people can’t exactly complain about your work, because, you know…
EDITOR: Huh, I never thought of it like that before.
ME: And, it seems pretty easy.
EDITOR: How… what makes you say that?
ME: You make dead people seem like they had an interesting life.
EDITOR: We don’t make them seem interesting. We remember their lives.
ME: But what if they were really boring?
EDITOR: We’re not here to judge. Our job is to respectfully tell their story, no matter what that entails.
ME: I’m not judging. I’m just saying, what if they were losers. You know, didn’t have a lot of friends, didn’t party much. Just hung out, watched fake judges yell at people on TV and played crosswords. Stuff like that.
EDITOR: We generally focus on career and family.
ME: Oh, that makes sense I guess.
ME: Still, you embellish a little, right?
EDITOR: We don’t usually, no.
ME: Just hear me out.
ME: Okay, so take this person… Louise Flincher. Louise was a devoted mother and a loving wife. After graduation she become a homemaker who loved cooking and enjoyed the occasional baseball game, blah, blah, blah.
EDITOR: I would happily print that.
ME: You did.
ME: Now, here’s what I would say: Louise Flincher was a total MILF in her day, bought her kids all kinds of cool stuff and lent them money whenever they asked, was a kick-ass chef, loved going to the ball park with witty signs that totally dissed the opposing team, and, she invented the game Two For Flinching.
EDITOR: Wow… that’s… I don’t think she, uh, invented the flinching thing.
ME: You don’t know that.
EDITOR: Do you?
ME: Not exactly.
EDITOR: And MILF?
ME: Mom I’d like to–
EDITOR: I get it, thanks.
ME: Now isn’t that more interesting?
EDITOR: In a way, yes. But it’s not entirely true.
ME: It’s not entirely false either.
EDITOR: No… but…
ME: You dig it, don’t you?
EDITOR: Let’s move on, shall we?
EDITOR: Okay. So your resume says you’ve been writing ads for the last five years. How do you feel that experience will help you write obits?
ME: Beyond my creativity?
EDITOR: Yes. Beyond your creativity.
ME: Well, the majority of the ads I write end up getting killed, so, you know, I figure it ought to be easy to flip that around and write about things that are already dead.
EDITOR: That… wow… I…
ME: You liked that analogy, huh?
EDITOR: That was… interesting. Extremely insensitive but interesting nonetheless. And, um, it wasn’t really an analogy.
ME: Sure it was. I compared two things.
EDITOR: No, you suggested one somehow related to the other.
ME: By comparing them. It’s the same thing.
EDITOR: Uh, no it isn’t.
ME: Whatever you say. You’re the “editor”.
EDITOR: Did you just put “air quotes” around editor?
EDITOR: I think you did.
EDITOR: We’ll be in touch.
A transcript of my interview with the editor of the local paper for the position of obituary writer
EDITOR: So, why obits?