Life After Death

Mark Elvis Ellis, Mark Elmo Ellis & Mark Elroy Ellis on "The Meaning of Afterlife"

(“The Gray Geezer” is pleased to present this Q&A with three certified Old Timers and co-authors of “The Meaning of Afterlife,” an E-book hailed by critics as worth every penny of the paper it's printed on.)

  How did the three of you meet? It was certainly serendipitous given that you share the same first and last names.

M. Elmo:  Actually, we’re triplets. Our mother was heavily sedated when she named us.

: Really! But you’re clearly not identical.

  We’re told that we began with one egg being fertilized by sperm from three different men.

I suppose that would explain Mark Elvis’ single eyelid fold.

And why Mark Elmo is 6’8,” I'm 5’11” and Mark Elvis is 5’1”. We had thought about branding ourselves as the Marks Brothers, but no one believed we were brothers. No biggie. We could never think of anything to put a brand on anyway.

Until we wrote our E-book. Then someone said branding would get us sued by the Marx brothers.

But the three of you became famous before that, as I’m sure our readers know.

That’s true. One day we were retired bridge toll takers, the next Old Timers certified by the Walter Brennan Institute.

Many are called, few are certified. I know because I failed the certification test I elected—loiter in a barbershop every business hour for a week. My Korean barber threatened to call the police. I doubt I would have fared any better with the Prostate Challenge—spending 24 hours in an emergency waiting room allotted only ten minutes for bathroom breaks. But the three of you! You overcame the Gabby Hayes Challenge—a month in the Nevada desert with nothing but a mule, a pick, a jug of whiskey and a burlap bag of beans.

 It changed our lives. Not only because we could bask in the acclaim of being certified Old Timers, but because our experience in the desert inspired our E-book.

Rodney Dangerfield once said men die before their wives because they want to. That’s a joke if we assume that men want to die to escape their wives. It’s not a joke for many men who retire, although the reason has nothing to do with their wives. In retirement, you live to consume. That’s an easy transition for most women. I know women who have always thought shopping is the meaning of life. But living to consume was difficult for us and is difficult for most men—unless, of course, they’re golfers.

What Mark Elvis is trying to say is that when we retired, the three of us mentally occupied ourselves with inquiries. For example: Who do conservative feminists hate most? Our answer was everyone. Whether true or not, we came to realize that our answers were meaningless. In the desert we had an epiphany: Perhaps our answers would be meaningful if the questions we asked weren’t stupid.

We first thought about answering: What is the meaning of life? But then we figured that question had already been taken. Then Mark Elmo said, “What about the meaning of afterlife?”

I did say that.

 Amazing. So what first started you on the path to an answer?

 I guess because we were in Nevada, I was thinking about Dean Martin. He once said that if it weren’t for booze, getting up in the morning would be the best he’d feel all day. I remember snapping my fingers and saying, “That’s right! What poor bastards we’d be without our bodies!”

Who wants to be just a spirit if you can’t get high? If you can’t pig out? If you can’t masturbate? I say that too--right in the book.

Amazing. But where did that lead?

Back to the roots of the Christianity and the funeral passage: “. . . earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust, in the sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ, who will change our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body . . .” In other words, Christianity originally made no distinction between body and soul. Resurrection would involve our bodies being reconstituted and brought back to life.

  Which meant people are not being animalistic but spiritual when wanting amazing hair, a flawless complexion, high cheek bones—

Big boobs.

: And yet your E-book comes to the opposite conclusion.

 It does?

 Yes Mark Elmo, it does. And the reason is this.The dead can’t be conscious if their bodies are earth and dust. So what happens when everyone is resurrected? Their last memory will be the moment before death. This can only lead to mass chaos. How could I possibly relate to some medieval woodcutter who looks like Danny DeVito, speaks Franconian, has never been farther than 10 miles from his village, and thinks the world is flat? The world is crowded enough without dickwads like that in it! 

 Which brings us to the surprising ending of your E-book. Do you want to give our readers a hint, or keep the ending a surprise?

I’d like a hint.

We believe the body and the soul are separate entities. Yes, the body gives us certain pleasures. But we also believe there is far more pleasure in the light that people who have been near death say they were drawn to irresistibly. Our bodies are what give us a sense of individuality—a sense that is illusory. People go through life thinking they are an individual largely because they inhabit the same body which connects them to the physical world. But who really is the same individual he or she was ten years ago, let alone 20 or 30 or more? And even if you persist in believing in your individuality, how could you remain that individual throughout eternity? Individuality is an illusion. When the soul goes to the light, it goes to become one again with its source. 

 No life lasts forever. Dead men rise up never. But even the weariest river winds somewhere safe to sea.

So we need to get our buzzes on while we can, is that it?

 Well said, Mark Elmo! And there you have it readers—baby boomer gold!

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Email Randy Bechtel at rbechtel@rkbechtel.com