I've got myself a genuine hoarding problem.
Now, initially this might not seem related to either the grandma or the penis mentioned in the headline. Nor, for that matter, does it appear to address the more intriguing issue that Nana enjoys herself some schlong.
Hang with me (and a little to the left), y'all, and in a wee bit of time, you'll be like, "Huh. Bekah * did * sell a dick to an old lady."
For the time being, though, let's focus on my adulterous GramGram, because she's crass and mean and crazy as a raccoon tap-dancing in a rain storm. She's also rich, so we all put up with the cheap bat's shenanigans. For example, GramGram once held a yard sale where she tried peddling my herpes-ridden sister's ex-convict ex-husband's used underwear --- which were stamped with the name of the prison that provided them. Yes. You read that right. My grandma attempted to achieve monetary gain via a stained pair of jail-issued man panties.
Anyway, I provide you with all this background to fully inform you of two things: 1) Thrift accumulation is in my blood, and 2) so is lunacy.
And this shit starts early in my family.
By the time I was 4, GramGram demanded that I accompany her on her treasure hunts. At the ass-crack of dawn, I'd crawl into her charcoal station wagon, and through sleep-matted eyes, I rubbernecked for signs reading, "COME BUY ALL OF MY GARAGE SALE TRASH! NO, REALLY, I NEED THE MONEY, AND METH IS STILL ABOUT A DECADE AWAY FROM BECOMING THE MIDWEST'S INDUSTRY OF CHOICE.”
For entire mornings, GramGram and I excavated piles of stretched-out bras, one-eyed teddy bears, and discarded wedding albums of couples who never reached their happily-ever-after.
My ideal haul included books. And lots of them. While GramGram refused to take me to some debt-trap (i.e. a mall) and buy me the latest Princess Skinny Ass Barbie, she was willing to make it rain all sorts of nickles and dimes for used copies of “The Babysitters Club,” “Nancy Drew,” and “The Boxcar Children.”
As the years passed, I abandoned my neighborhood hunts to focus other things: my career, marrying, and acquiring cats. Yet the stank had settled, and my family’s proud tradition of bargaining for other people’s trash would soon have its way with me.
First, though, came my pre-midlife crisis. At 27, I decided that the newspaper industry had betrayed me, and I dumped that used-up mistress whore of a job to pursue a doctorate in something superior and pretentious. However, leaving the career of my childhood dreams wrecked me, and shortly after I left, I sprouted a tumor, developed cysts on my ovaries, and contracted a crippling case of depression.
When depression entered stage left frontal lobe, I found myself emerging from the cocoon of my broken life only when mandated attendance.
One evening my husband, Chris, returned home, surveyed the teetering tower of takeout containers, and asked “What’s that smell?” Turned out, that Pig Pen-esque cloud in our apartment originated with me, and Chris demanded that I either shower or dig out our pre-nup.
Quite frankly, I wasn’t in the mood for his shit. After all, Chris is the one with the small penis, not me, so he’s the one who should be all sad about life. But I did as he bid, because, for real, y'all, I was ripe.
Now, at this point, Chris hadn’t seen me looking human in about six months. The whole depression thing had been, well, depressing, for the both of us. He cooked, cleaned, lead the cheers of “You’re going to be okay soon!,” and loved me unconditionally. I contributed to our marriage by staying in bed all day with my cats, smelling like a pile of aging cheese, and looking like the Trash Heap from Fraggle Rock.
So, when Chris literally pushed me out the door, saying I wasn't allowed in the house for three hours, I acquiesced. We climbed into our car, and we drove, and we drove, and we drove some more, until we passed a sign reading “Estate Sale,” and Chris insisted we turn back.
I eased our car into the only parking spot remaining on the overstuffed street. A line of a good 30-plus people stretched back from a tiny tan house with chipped sideboards and a driveway so steep that I envisioned myself slipping, morphing into a human snowball, rolling down, collecting mass and momentum as I steamrolled over the octogenarians and hobos that seemed to be the only other ones brave enough to enter this… this… well, honestly, I didn’t know what to expect, but I knew that I didn’t want to do this.
But Chris had asked so little of me that I figured I owed him this one, so I zipped my yap and shuffled into the queue, standing next to a woman in 90s-esque stretch pants, an oversized Minnie Mouse sweater, and a gaunt look that conveyed her disdain for … well, me. I stared right back at the bitch, all the while searching my purse for my pepper spray lest this twat waffle tried shanking me for my shoes.
Then our turn came. I entered the house, expecting half-used jugs of detergent and unwashed rugs with artistic spatterings of cat piss. I paused for a second at the threshold, reluctant to enter what I imagined had to be some old dude’s crack den, and Chris firmly shoved me through the door.
Cheesus. On. A. Cracker.
That was the best decision that man has ever made in his life (other than giving up his Harry Potter wand, because a grown man pointing a child’s toy at dirty dishes and yelling ‘Optimus Prime,’ even though that’s not a spell, is just the most ridiculous thing in the world, and it doesn’t get the dishes done.)
It was a goddamn amusement park all up in that place.
Star Wars memorabilia dangled from the ceiling. A banjo painted like a soccer ball rested on a rad retro paisley couch. Plastic mannequin heads lined an entire table, each of them donned with some elaborate mid-century hat. The kitchen contained an entire collection of mugs painted with those ugly little corgi dogs.
And the garage? Hand to your deity of choice, it overflowed with more than 800 pounds of costume jewelry. (I know this because the people running the sale weighed it in bulk and proudly posted a sign of said poundage.) Watches, necklaces, bracelets, and earrings snarled into heaps of tangled nests on table after table of glittering junk. Overweight women in leopard-print pants sprawled on the floor, elbowing each other in an effort to claim the tubs of unsorted jewelry tucked beneath the tables.
Room after room presented erratic yet enticing oddities, and before I knew it, I could barely see where I was going because of the stack of stuff I held in front of me. My loot included pig-shaped plates, a brass unicorn, Confederate War Bonds, a vintage sex-how-to book, a Pound Puppies puzzle, and a penis cozy.
This right here.
This was my “aha” moment. I was in a dead person’s house, hoarding their stuff, and I picked myself up a penis, albeit one made out of wool.
Chris looked at my pile of treasure and started to insist I put it all back. Then, he stopped mid-sentence.
Maybe it was because he knew that my depression had been more crippling than either of us could have imagined, or maybe it was because in that moment he remembered that he actually loved my quirks, or maybe it was because he just really appreciated me finally showering, but for whatever reason, my husband gave me a look of total endearment and affection and said, “Fine. Buy it. But it’s your responsibility to figure out what the fuck we’re going to do with this shit."
So, home I went, giddy as could be, until I unloaded the four boxes of some random dead person’s stuff and realized with terror that I had no clue how I was going to keep it and my husband. I mean, I was now the (not really proud) owner of Confederate War bonds, for shit’s sake. And a penis cozy? What in the name of balls was I going to do with that? After all, I don’t have a penis, and ever since I cut off Chris’s testicles, he’s had no pretensions that his unmentionable area would ever be anything remotely cozy. That rant aside, where the hell do you even go after buying a penis cozy?
The Internet, y'all. You go to the Internet.
I went to an online retailer and found my rescued items good homes. I made $150 profit off the Confederate war bonds. The brass unicorn earned me a $20 bill. I sold my pig plates for three times the price I gave. The Pound Puppies puzzle never sold, which absolutely flummoxes me, because it’s just too awesome to not find a good forever home.
However, no item received as much attention as that damn penis cozy. When I told my friends and family that I had purchased this World War II patriotic specimen (which is pictured at the beginning of this post), they all inevitably asked the same two questions. The first: “So, how does Chris look in it?” I just reminded them that I don’t ever see Chris’s junk, because sex is gross, and he and I blissfully operate on an abstinence-only policy. The second: “What the hell are you going to do with it?"
I wanted to keep it, but Chris called bullshit on me keeping a fake penis when I positively refused to so much even glance in the direction of his real one. So, with significant reluctance, I listed the penis cozy online. I wanted my precious penis to find the best home possible, I named my listing, “GIGANTIC FAKE DONG.” But that seemed a bit of an undersell. So, then I wrote, “BETTER THAN THE REAL THING."
I always assumed America was bloated with depraved degenerates, and, like usual, I was right. Too right, in fact. THOUSANDS of people a DAY were going online and typing in words like “pocket-rocket,” “one-eyed snake,” “pecker,” “baby-maker,” “schlong,” “meat popsicle,” “Mr. Winkie,” “tally-whacker,” and the oh-so-original-and-creative “fuck stick.”
They found me and my faux penis, instead. But they seemed to like it, as evidenced by the first inquiry, which read:
I was quite intrigued to see your listing for the Willie Warmer. I remember my grandfather having one when I was growing up, and I always hoped I’d obtain it after he passed. Clearly, this has sentimental value for me, so I was wondering if you’d consider lowing your price from $8 to $4. Also, quick question: I know you said it stretched, but if I were to receive the item and find it unsuitable for my use, would you offer a refund?
This is when I decided a) there was no way in hell I was slashing my price, because this thing was a freaking gold mine and anyone who didn’t recognize that didn’t deserve my Willie Warmer, and b) that I was keeping this thing online, solely because I wanted more e-mails like THAT, because they were working way better than my Prozac.
The next day, the penis cozy was no longer legally mine, as it had been purchased by a buyer with the old-fashioned name of Gertrude McBlueHair.
Suspense skittered across my skin, and after only 30 seconds of that torture, I shot off this e-mail:
Thank you so much for purchasing the most classy item in my store! If you don’t mind me being nosy, do you have any special plans for this tiny (but stretchy!) trinket?
Moments later, I received this response:
I’m a widow and have no ‘real’ use for it. My family always throws White Elephant Christmas parties, and I never win the prize. This year this great-grandmother is going to give her family something to talk about! Unless you have something else that would be even more shocking?
I politely told her that a Willie Warmer was as good as I could give at the moment, and that she was the most kickass great-grandma ever and had officially earned the title of My Ultimate World Hero.
Months have passed, and I have collected many an odd item to sell online, and the hobby is still keeping my depression under some form of control. But every now and then, when my fat lady bits get cold, and I find myself thinking, “Lordie, I wish there was a WooHoo Warmer around here,” I fondly think of Mrs. McBlueHair and her wicked sense of humor, and then I wonder if her grandchildren, upon opening the gift, laughed so hard they pissed themselves, or if they collectively vomited upon realizing that their great granny not only knows what a penis is but that she also most likely knows what to do with one if an opportunity presents itself.
For my sake, I hope it’s the latter. And I sort of want to meet those kids and be like, “Yeah… so, I sold my penis to your grandma, and she liked it.”
True story: Life would be super swell if we all embraced our OMG side instead of living a Facebook-friendly existence. So, let it out. What has been your favorite garage sale/yard sale/estate sale/auction find ever? Are you bored enough to have any questions for me? Do you think my husband looks like beloved public radio saint Garrison Keillor in this painting? If so, are we turned on by that fact, or do we need to cry by Lake Woe-Is-Me-Be-Gone? Feel free to disclose details. You're safe here.