Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Be Careful What You Keep

Dedicated to Mamatulip, who cracked me up with her post on porn this morning.

My paternal Grandfather was a porn dealer, among other things. I didn't find this out until the spring of 1996 when he died, suddenly, of progressive lung cancer. I was thirteen, half the age I am now. We weren't very close. My Dad, were he here to argue the fact, might disagree. What little interaction I had with the old man was spread out among cousins. We would gather on holidays, a large Italian mass, to eat fist-sized meatballs and watch Grandpa shoot down the family photos with a Nerf gun.

He had a bar called The Trap. Memory, which cannot be trusted, has blended it with an image of Cheers. Some say it was a front for illegal gambling. My Dad would take me there on Saturday mornings when I was little. I would sit on the bar and serve unwanted Shirley Temples to vagabond customers. But what I really wanted was an excuse to eat maraschino cherries. Dad and Grandpa would migrate to the back at some point, leaving me to dig through a bag of Crane Game stuffed animals. They'd argue and we'd leave... until the next time. I collected so many stuffed animals that way.

After Grandpa died, the family divided his things. I ended up with a gold plated Coke bottle and his Italian horn pendant. The pendant was special, a symbol of hierarchy. I'm not sure about the Coke bottle. Some elderly family member claimed I'd told her that I collected Coke memorabilia. I didn't, collect that is. People shouldn't be held accountable for what they say while waiting for a family member to die. My Uncles got my Grandfather's cars, two mafia-style vehicles with suicide doors.

I'll never forget how the family pawed over those insignificant things. It was like they'd won some lottery with mortality or something. My Dad stood by, quietly and undeserving. He just wanted to stay awhile in that house, to smell his Father's things and to care for the dog. Or maybe I'm being too kind. It wasn't long after the garage was opened and my Uncles had claimed their respective cars that someone suggested opening the trunks. Being old mafia cars, these compartments were rather large, and each was stuffed to capacity with black trash bags.

Being young, I was quick to distraction and didn't witness the opening of the bags. But I heard the "Eep!" one of my aunts let out when it was done. What followed was stunned silence... and then laughter. They laughed until they cried, hugging at their ribs and gasping for air. My cousins and I stared in wonder. We had denied ourselves all morning anything that might be misconstrued as happiness and here were our parents, laughing (!) so soon after death. They ushered us into the house without explanation, eager to get back to the bags.

I waited until that night to ask, once my Dad was sufficiently liquored up. I'll never forget the way his eyes crinkled at the corners as he relived the memory in his head. "What was in the bags, Dad?" "Porn," he said sloppily. "Porn?!" To be honest, I'd expected him to say bodies. "Yup. Porn and dildos." And that was it. I didn't have the guts to ask him to explain. So for several years I lived with that information in my head, with absolutely no explanation. I'd be lying if I said it didn't fuck with me a little.

Later on, about seven years later to be exact, I asked for the full story. Before I was born, my Grandfather owned a lucrative porn store. Its main draw was that you could seat yourself in a private booth onsite and watch X-Rated movies, provided you had the coins to keep feeding the meter. Every minute, the movie would shut off. Which was fine if you were done. But if you weren't, you had to pay another $.50. Once out of the booth, customers could peruse the store for take-home materials.

When the business eventually folded, my Grandfather decided to keep the unsold merchandise in his cars. Who knows why. Maybe he sold it out of the trunk on occasion. Or maybe he passed it out at parties like a dirty old Santa Claus. Either way, it made me realize that there are certain things I DON'T want people to find after I'm gone. Like my diaries... or my old pipe... or that pair of ratty underwear with twelve holes in it. Ew. So tell me, what things have been unearthed posthumously in your family? What would you rather NOT be found after you're gone?

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26 Comments:

At 25 February, 2009, Blogger Niki said...

Hubby and I found his grandfather's stash of porn when we cleaned out the shed on his uncle's property last year. Apparently he had to keep in the shed so the missus wouldn't find it.

 
At 25 February, 2009, Blogger kcinnova said...

Old diaries are gone. Stash of chocolate keeps resupplying itself... there would be great shame in that one being found by a certain spouse.

 
At 25 February, 2009, Blogger Jay said...

Well, I guess since I'll be dead, I won't be all that embarrassed when people find my blow up doll collection.

I'm kidding.

I've already thrown a lot of stuff out. Some of it I wish I had kept. A lot of letters, many of them "naughty," from people back in the day. And some short stories I've written that aren't exactly meant for mixed company.

I do have some stuff on a couple of flash drives that I guess I wouldn't want discovered. By "stuff" I mean more stories and other written "thoughts."

I don't own any porn collection, so that isn't a concern. So, overall I don't think there's much that I have to hide from people.

Back when I was in college I did accidentally discover a roommate's smut collection though. He was into some, uh interesting stuff. haha

 
At 25 February, 2009, Blogger Gramps said...

My Barry Manilow collection.

 
At 25 February, 2009, Anonymous The Beer Geek said...

Well, I dont know if I have anything that would make anyone cringe. I think my life is a little too boring for all that. Some poeple may be a little shocked at all the beer in my fridge, and come to the conclusion that I am an alcoholic. LOL

 
At 25 February, 2009, Blogger g-man said...

Several old pipes, and maybe the porn collection.

 
At 25 February, 2009, Blogger meno said...

Once as i was helping friends move into a house, we found the previous owner's dildo. It was a hollow rubber one. We decided to make it into a hanging planter and plant baby tears in it.

I've pretty much gotten rid of anything that would embarass me, 'cept maybe some old writings.

 
At 25 February, 2009, Blogger Persnickety Ticker said...

I can just imagine my friends and family sitting around here after I am gone, going through my things and proclaiming...WTF?!? Too funny!

My word vert? partooke. The fancy way to partake. Cheers!

 
At 25 February, 2009, Blogger Chris said...

Porn week at Pickled Beef! Who knew? ;) Um, probably it would be best if my nightstand were just burned in its entirety without being opened.

 
At 25 February, 2009, Blogger Janet said...

Guess I should get rid of those pictures...

 
At 25 February, 2009, Blogger Foo said...

"What would you rather NOT be found after your gone?"

You didn't really think it would be that easy. Did you?

WV: "reopsess". Don't drink and drive (cars of people who have defaulted on their loans).

 
At 25 February, 2009, Anonymous Turtle said...

Maybe I'll have to come up with some stuff, so my family will have something to talk about. Something really good. Something that they'd be shocked by initially, then later realize I was joking and have a good laugh!

 
At 25 February, 2009, Blogger Reb said...

Wow, porn in the trunks! That is so much more interesting than anything we came across when going through the parents house.

Of course, when it is my turn to have people going through my crap, well, there might be one or two things that might embarrass them, but, I'll be gone, so won't really care.

 
At 25 February, 2009, Blogger Hilary said...

Wonderful story, Tink. My cousin/friend and I know where the other keeps any stash we wouldn't want our kidlets to find. We've each promised to clear out that spot should one of us go unexpectedly.

 
At 25 February, 2009, Blogger Tawcan said...

What a wonderful story. I guess that's a way to make sure your family members will always remember you.

 
At 26 February, 2009, Blogger LL said...

So the main question is... do the Uncles with the cars still have the collection? I'm wagering they do... :P

 
At 26 February, 2009, Anonymous Mike said...

But to what fists did you size the meatballs?

If they're yours, for example, then that's just a normal meat ball.

But if they were sized like mine... now THAT is a meatball!

 
At 26 February, 2009, Blogger Farmer*swife said...

Well, Tink, if I didn't want it found, I'm thinking I don't want to talk about it either! ;-)

I've gotten rid of most stuff, but there seems to always be something lying around somewhere...

Time to review again! LOL!

 
At 26 February, 2009, Blogger Knot said...

Nothing ... not a dang thing of interest. I don't know what happened to the bullets from the Japanese soldier from WWII. Or the other cool stuff my family absconded with, especially my grand father's WWI metal.

I'm a little disappointed you haven't sent me any porn though. Truly disappointed.

But hey ... I'm sure you kept the dildos.

My wife's friend's brother ( I'll give you a second ) died unexpectedly in his home. Honestly, he was gay and died of the AIDS. Long story short he was a hair dresser. They found stacks of money and odd gay man clothes. I have some of his old shoes.

And seeing how I have one genetic relative left besides my daughter, I'm probably going to be the one who has the gasping gifts.

 
At 26 February, 2009, Blogger mamatulip said...

I went to a Fantasia party with my MIL (yeah, that was totally awkward - it was hosted by her sister and I really didn't want to go, but I was pressured in to going and when I got there and made an off comment during a ring-toss game with a gigantic dildo about being able to 'handle my dicks' I was told by my MIL's other sister to watch my mouth because my MIL was there. Which - WHY DID YOU INVITE ME IN THE FIRST PLACE?) and on the way home she got talking about how she wanted to buy something there but, what would happen when she died and we were going through her things? And we found her, um, items? What would we think of her?

I told her we'd think that she was a warm-blooded human being, but she was completely overcome by the thought of someone looking at her as a sexual being after she had died.

That being said - there are MANY things that I wouldn't want people to find after I died but the main things would be my diaries. I have considered burning them for several years but I can't part with them. Just knowing I have them is comforting to me. I guess I'm not ready yet.

Awesome story, Tink. I loved it!

 
At 26 February, 2009, Blogger fiwa said...

No porn, but certainly a little scandal between both my family and Clarke's. My mom tried to write a novel once, and I know of it's existence, but she has never let me see it and I suspect that she will destroy it if she hasn't already. I'd really like to have it - and asked for it - but she refused.

I myself have a few diaries that I'd like to have destroyed so that no one else could see them.

That was a good story Tink.
love you -
fiwa

 
At 26 February, 2009, Blogger Knot said...

It's interesting reading the comments how many have said they would not want their diaries discovered. As a guy, that concept is totally foreign to me.

 
At 27 February, 2009, Blogger rudecactus said...

Dildos in the trunk. Heh. Not to make light though. We all leave stuff behind. I don't think I've put enough thought into that. Hell, I've gotta clean!

 
At 27 February, 2009, Blogger Gary Rith Pottery Blog said...

being honest? finding out that my grandmother was 16 when she got together with my grandfather and gave birth to my dad....nobody mentioned that when I was young

 
At 27 February, 2009, Blogger blewknight said...

I have pics from before digital so they are real of past girlfriends. Nothing bad, bad but it might show me in a diferent light. I guess I should have a little fire in the driveway.

 
At 28 February, 2009, Blogger Woman in a Window said...

Oh Tink, I love this, love you for telling it. You on the counter eating maraschino cherries, the stuffed animals, the greedy uncles, the porn. It's all too gd perfect!

Us, oh, we hide nothin'.

 

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