Speaking Ill of the Dead
When I was ten or so, I heard this joke: “What’s grosser than gross? Sitting on your grandpa’s lap when he pops a boner.” Although I dutifully laughed with my friends, I had no idea what a boner was. Because my own grandpa was often flatulent, I assumed that “popping a boner” meant “to fart.” I must have repeated that joke dozens of times, never knowing what it meant. I was fairly horrified when I learned what a “boner” really was.
Grandpa Ed was our grandmother’s second husband. I didn’t meet her first husband until I was 16 or 17. I remember Grandpa Ed as always old. He wore thick glasses and his remaining hair stood up in tufts around his ears. He put his teeth in a glass at night and, due to troubles with his hearing aid, always seemed to be yelling at us to either speak up or pipe down. He was a foot doctor of some sort. Before he retired for good, he kept an examination table and strange diagrams of the foot in one room of my grandparent’s house. My sisters and I found him terribly frightening.
As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to understand the joys of a well-functioning digestive system. With age, a good bowel movement becomes elusive and gas is a part of life. I now understand what mystified me as a child: why my Grandfather smelled so bad.
Farts are universally funny. As children, we were awed and fascinated by the toots Grandpa passed. We waited at least an hour to visit the bathroom after him. The best part of Grandpa’s stinks was the game we invented to play with them: Smell Grandpa’s Chair.
Imagine, four giggly sisters forever daring each other to smell Grandpa’s chair. He spent most of his day in an upholstered recliner, watching endless reruns of Perry Mason, only getting up to go to the bathroom or eat. The four of us would stalk him, waiting for an opportunity to sniff the chair. I vividly remember pressing my nose to the still warm impression his behind had left on the seat. I will spare you a description of the odor. Smelling Grandpa’s dining room chair was a lesser dare because it was wooden. After Grandpa had left the seat, the wood rapidly cooled, but a slight scent remained. His was a powerful stink.
When my Grandfather died, I did not miss him. I attended his memorial service and I cried, but I was only crying because my Grandmother seemed so sad. After the service, we returned to my Grandma’s house and I saw the couch where Grandpa had spent his last days. I wasn’t even tempted to sniff it. I suppose I finally outgrew that game.
As an adult, I am a little saddened that I only knew a caricature of my Grandpa. To me, he was a grumpy, smelly old man with no personality. However, I think he’d laugh if he ever knew how much entertainment we found in his recently vacated seats. Farts are funny whether your 5 or 85. What’s grosser than gross? Smelling your Grandpa’s chair – I dare you.