Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Christopher Walken, a Boat, and the Whale Bone Stone

The craziest part of death is trying to figure out who the hell gets all the stuff the deceased left behind.

This sort of thing has always creeped me out something fierce. When my grandmother’s sister passed away a few years old, I refused to take any of her jewelry because rifling through a dead person’s stuff (especially a person I didn’t know all that well) seemed pretty jacked up. And disrespectful. But in this case, I’d known my grandmother my whole life, and hypothetically her stuff would have more meaning to me.

Well, it did - in ways I never could have fathomed. (Cue dramatic music.)

Firstly, my grandmother had pretty awesome taste in jewelry. Secondly, she kept everything. And I mean everything. Someone please tell me what you’re supposed to do with the single earring of a famous deceased movie actress. Can I auction that shit off?

If you’re curious, the actress was Natalie Wood – yes, the chick that pranced around singing “I Feel Pretty” in West Side Story and drowned after falling off a boat in 1981. A boat on which Christopher Walken was a passenger. (Remind me never to get on a boat with Christopher Walken. He obviously sucks balls at saving drowning people.)

Anyway, my grandfather bought Natalie Wood’s 1967 Mercedes convertible way back in the day (before she drunkenly drowned while Christopher Walken was busy snorting coke off the yacht hatch) as a gift to my grandmother, who found the earring in the glove box. The car sat in her garage for many years after she stopped driving, and was re-gifted to several female family members until it became my first car, much to my dismay. If you’re thinking who the fuck would give a 16 year old such a valuable car, don’t worry, I was too. (Think about the pressure you felt to not destroy a vehicle when you first started driving. Now times that by a million, ‘cause the car you’re driving was owned by a movie star and should certainly be in a collection somewhere – in fact, The Peterson Automotive Museum had offered to put it in an exhibit. Oh yeah, it was basically impossible to start, and the radio only picked up the boats in the harbor. And there was no power steering.)

Really, it’s a miracle I’m typing this right now. I could have crashed that fucker and been immediately chopped into a thousand tiny pieces by my relatives. I really think my father was trying to punish me by deeming me keeper of my insanely old grandmother’s dearest, and most expensive possession. Eventually it was just too much and I refused to drive it (this was after I backed it into a friend’s flower bed and got stuck for a panic-ridden moment), so my dad got pissed off at me, sold it to a collector, pocketed the cash, and told me that if I didn’t want that car, I couldn’t have any car.

But I digress.

Anyway, besides the earring of the most unfortunate starlet Natalie Wood, my grandmother also kept a bag of rocks.

And the other day, there was a magical moment in which my aunt pulls a leather satchel out of my grandmother’s box of belongings, opens it, and nearly drops it in confusion when I exclaim, “OH MA GAWD, I REMEMBER THAT ROCK!

“Wait, you REMEMBER that rock?

Okay, so this whole situation is living proof that very weird things influence us as children, and we carry them with us our whole lives. While other things go completely over our heads (i.e. portraits of mysterious “friends of the family” who turn out to be your half siblings; the purchase of multiple fax machines and toasters, for the purpose of furnishing two households after a divorce, but you think your dad must just really like toast and paper with perforated edges.)

So, yes, I remember that specific rock, ‘cause bitch, it totally looks like the center of a whale vertebra! (Or, at least, I was convinced of that when I was, like, five. YES, I KNOW, I’M NOT GOING TO PRETEND THAT I WASN’T A DERANGED CHILD WHO INEXPLICABLY KNEW WHAT WHALE VERTEBRAE LOOKED LIKE.)

So, anyway, in addition to the many lockets and metal Norwegian pendants I acquired, I also got myself a muther fucking bag of pebbles. To add to the other leather satchel full of geodes my grandmother gave to me many years ago.

Grandma, if you’re out there somewhere, I hope you know that every time I look at my bad ass whale veterbra-shaped piece of lime stone, I’m thinking of you. It’s only right.

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