Thursday, February 22, 2007

Over the River and Through the Woods

With some vacation days nearing expiration, I decided to squeeze in a surprise visit to my beyond awesome grandparents, carefully coordinating with my uncle so as to dance the fine line of Surprising Old People that falls between "Pleasantly Caught Unawares" and "Massive Coronary". After five days of drinking so severe that I actually began to feel myself devolving, I was looking forward to a couple of days spent padding around in slippers, playing cribbage, and introducing my grandparents to basic features on their electronic equipment in a benevolent, godlike manner (Last Channel, Delete Messages, etc.). Tuesday morning proved to be a high point of my trip, as I convinced my grandmother to take a break from her endless, bloodhound-like search for microscopic crumbs and sit down to watch the bootleg copy of Jackass 2 that my uncle had dropped off (or, as she later referred to it in a conversation with her sister, "You know, The Assholes? Two."). Sample conversation:

Grandmother: I couldn't hear that. What did he say?
Me: He said "I am not eating that fucking shit."
Grandmother: Does he mean real shit?
Me: Jesus, no! Oh wait, yes. Sorry.

After our (read: my) decision to take in the special unrated features, we'd wiled the better part of the afternoon away and segued neatly into "The People's Court" and "Judge Judy", which after three days' of viewings, I can safely assure you would not exist in a world without at least two of the following: used cars, security deposits, broken condoms/uneducated hicks. A good, relaxing time overall, but after years of city living in which my shelves have shelves, I sometimes get a little out of sorts with all of the available space and amenities, and the highly irrational means in which they use it:

This is but a small portion of my grandmother's vast collection of candles, none of which are actually meant for burning because "that's how fires get started". Though I've pointed out that by refusing to light a single wick, she deprives the candles of their very raison d'etre, she'll have none of it. The most frustrating thing about the whole thing is that they're all descriptively named after incredibly delicious foodstuffs, leading some primal part of me to actually desire to eat wax. I'm not sure if that was their original intention, but score one for Yankee Candle.

Note: That front candle is entitled "Sparkling Angel". I find this bothersome because at some point my grandmother stood in a store and thought to herself, "Hm. I wonder what an angel smells like when it burns?"

This is my grandparents' Sitting Room, which is somewhat innacurately named in that one is not allowed to actually sit within its confines (even entering the room is discouraged). This room exists entirely as a showpiece for visitors, reminiscent of some Victorian tradition in which the ability to keep a room pristine indicates Good Virtue and Gentlemanly Qualities. They've been living in this house for three years, and as far as I know, there's still a possibility that all of that furniture is made of cardboard.

This is my grandfather's collection of creepy, leering dogs, arranged on his bureau so that no matter what vantage point you view them from, they are staring at you, defying all properties of light. As for the warped, freakish glass clown in the background, in 27 years, not a visit has gone by that I haven't expected it to come to slowly come to life, look me straight in the eye, and huskily whisper "I'm going to kill you."

Note:Just above this shelf, they keep a picture of me as a teenager that is only slightly less unsettling.

Do your grandparents have a heart-shaped jacuzzi in their private bathroom? Well, mine do. And that's all I have to say about that.

These are a few of my grandmother's Hummels, a sort of collectible German figurine that ranks somewhere between Beanie Babies and Faberge eggs in terms of classiness/worth (far, far closer to Beanie Babies). Though my mother and aunt are also rabid fans, my cousin and I have been unnerved by these since we were children, and whenever we're told that we stand to inherit them, we usually just look at each other, shrug, and say "You can have 'em." The worst part about them is that they depict cherubic young German children from the Nazi era doing mundane, angelic things that I have never seen a single child do, let alone a Hitler Youth.

1. I'm not sure there is a pose in the world that can make one look stupider than "Staring Blankly at Two Piglets While Wearing Leiderhosen".

2. He is looking (slightly downward) into your soul.

3. First off, I don't know who issues a 6-year old a shotgun, but that seems a moot point. Second, he's using binoculars to presumably look for his next kill, when there's a rabbit not two feet in front of him. Third, nothing robs you of your innocence more than a porcelain depiction of a rabbit asking to be shot.

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At February 23, 2007 2:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was so damn funny. It was like stepping back into time with my own grandparents (minus the Jackass reference). I'm sitting here at my desk at a respectable university in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with tears of laughter streaming down my cheeks and getting dirty looks from the dip shits in the foundation relations department.

At February 23, 2007 2:43 PM, Anonymous upstate eric. said...

ugh. if only my own house didn't look like this.

At February 23, 2007 4:38 PM, Blogger heartinsanfrancisco said...

I HATE Hummels. We recently inherited one when my husband's aunt died. He has refused my many offers to find it a good home, so it lives in a storage closet behind a lot of less unappealing stuff, like toolboxes.

My own mother collected Toby Jugs. They are equally hideous mugs made by Royal Doulton, and when she died, even my sister-in-law, always alert to anything valuable, didn't want them. They went to the Salvation Army, where they may still be residing all these years later.

At February 23, 2007 7:33 PM, Blogger Kevin said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At February 23, 2007 7:37 PM, Blogger Kevin said...

I hate freaky clowns too. Worst nightmare ever...standing at the foot of my bed watching me sleep, a clown, sock puppet, and a ventriloquist dummy. Now I'll have to stay up all night.

At February 24, 2007 4:21 PM, Blogger ctina said...

everyone wants to make out with you, while crying and smashing hummels. good post.

At February 25, 2007 4:35 PM, Blogger Barbtender said...

I have known, since I was a little girl, which figurine from my mother's beloved collection of inherited Hummells will be mine "when she departs this earth."

How morbid.

At February 25, 2007 4:58 PM, Blogger Joe said...


Haaaaaa hhaaaaaaaa haaaaa haaaaa!

Again, a riotously funny post.

*joe "TFKoP"

At February 26, 2007 9:53 AM, Anonymous Jessexy said...

Let's see that teenage picture of you from above your grandfather's creepy dogs. Though I prefer the one your grandmother once showed me of you as a baby. A, er, well-fed baby. I'll pay you $1 if you post that.

At February 26, 2007 3:08 PM, Blogger Amy said...

Hilarious. Makes me feel better about my parents collection of mallard napkin rings!

At February 26, 2007 3:19 PM, Blogger Sally Tomato said...

Are you a long lost cousin of mine, because that place is a dead ringer for my grandmom's house. Hummels? Check. Big ben alarm clock? Check.

At February 26, 2007 4:07 PM, Anonymous Old Hickory said...

Brilliant post. The lack of thick, plastic furniture covering and carpet runners tells me your grandparents must not be Italian. My grandmother's house looked like she was anticipating spontaneous bouts of jello wrestling.

At February 26, 2007 4:13 PM, Blogger dorkismo said...

I want to see the picture!!!

So funny, this post. Thank you Gawker for making yourselves useful for a change.

At February 26, 2007 4:15 PM, Blogger Maureen said...

I'm so happy to know that someone else's family has an "untouchable" room. In my parents' house, it is the place where the 59 Cats' Meow houses and the 32 decorative beer steins are kept--AND the candles that you can't burn.

You have done a great public service by posting your story. This is sickeningly funny.

At February 26, 2007 4:16 PM, Blogger The Cajun Boy said...

with the exception of the heart-shaped jacuzzi bath, which frankly creeps me out a bit, the joint looks like a carbon copy of my grandparent's crib. oh, and my grandpa collects little elephants instead of dogs. ahhh the elderly, god bless em.

At February 26, 2007 4:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So you have a desire to eat a candle that tastes like a Yankee? THAT creeps me out!

At February 26, 2007 4:58 PM, Blogger moogaboo said...

That was so hot! Please post more. Your grandparents sound like pretty vile old Nazis. They really deserve to hang for those Hummels. Seriously, do more of these!

At February 26, 2007 6:53 PM, Blogger sonda said...

Thank you for making me laugh and hopefully I'll be able to absorb and steal some of your style and be a little funnier in my own life. I Hate You New Guy is the funniest thing I've ever read. Great job!!!!

At February 26, 2007 9:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a collection of about 25 that I will inherit INCLUDING the much sought after Umbrella Girl complete with the original $59.00 price tag, Goose Girl, and a Nativity set which will give my mother-in-law a heart attack because I converted to judaism and she is always on alert for me to go back to my old ways

At February 27, 2007 4:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hummels are the new franklin mint mint.

god help us all.

At February 27, 2007 4:48 AM, Blogger TAR ART RAT said...

the porcelain animals and Hummels ring so true.
or just ring.
quiet, monotone and forevermore until a three-year-old will one day knock them from a shelf.

damn Hummels.

At March 01, 2007 3:01 AM, Blogger It's just me... said...


Can we trade grandparents?

Mine would literally die if I showed 'The Assholes, 2' not to mention their lack of Hummels, unlightable candles, sitless sitting rooms, and (the kicker) the love shaped tub.

At March 09, 2007 12:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're kind of brilliant


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