In recent mainpage reproduction of a classic SD column, Cecil answers the question of where The Grateful Dead got their name. In it, he discovers and expounds upon the folklore from which their name was inadvertently derived, citing a typical tale from the genre.
I am a little confused as to the moral contained therein. Is “grateful” used ironically here? It seems to me that the dead man, rotting as he was in horse dung, didn’t seem quite so grateful to have a stranger pay off his debts and give him a proper burial, given that he A) Offered help only on the condition that he share half of the winnings, and B) asserted his claims to said winnings even when they included the “marital rights.” I mean, what kind of selfish asshattery is that? I’m just not seeing the gratitude here, so the moral, such as it may be, comes off like it’s trying to say, “Don’t help people who get themselves into trouble – especially dead people, because they’ll probably be pricks in the afterlife, too.”
What am I missing?