Wednesday, February 23, 2005

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.


At 2:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are disgusting.....

At 6:59 PM, Blogger Kasmira said...

Is that really news to you?

At 10:34 PM, Blogger Scott in Washington said...

My grandfather is still alive. When we visit him he is still all there enough to be polite and make a common conversation. He is kinda weird but we don't sniff his seat and he still has a firm handshake. I remember when I was the age you describe, he was recently retired from a career as a small gas engine mechanic, where he worked his last twenty years or so for Alpenrose Dairy. He used to pack my cousin and me and the current black dog (they were all labs) into his Ford van with as much canned food and cash as he could pry loose from my Grandma and light out. We would go for two or three weeks to Rife Lake or into Gifford Pincht Ntl. Park. Grandpa was a child of the 30s and he knows how to squirrel away canned food and can make a dollar go a long way. Back then his handed were so calloused from his trade that he coudl light a kitchen match and drop it on his palm without it burning through his calluses or grind a rod until the end was sharp and then hand it to me and even though I grasped it where he did I got a blister on my own hand. At eighty something he has retired his tools but can still perform a mean handshake.

My only memory of my great-grandfather is purloined. He was an ornery cuss. His son was head and shoulders above him in the getting along with others department. My cousin, who is 3 years older than me remembers being left on a couch next to the old man in his chair. He sat there in his overalls with his hair all askew and gripped the arms of his chair and spit tobacco juice into the carpet and then rubbed it in with his boot - all the while staring at my cousin and daring him to say "boo" to the folks in the kitchen.

Many a time, I have sat in that chair and every time I contemplate spitting on my cousin's floor and decide not to. Usually, instead while sitting in it I get my butt beaten at first-person-shooter video games, or beat his rear at real-time-strategy games. I wouldn't be surprised to learn, after my death, that my son's son and or/my daughter's daughters had set up a sniffing game involving that chair and my ass, which Brit will attest is already pretty stinky.



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