Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Knick-Knacks from Grandma's House

by Kevin Mosby


The Knick-Knacks:

"Live Bright" Motivational Pillow

Miniature Pinscher Welcome Sign

Big Stuffed American Cock

Fancy Wooden Owl

My Name in Floam on Box Wrapped with Cars 3 Wrapping Paper

Drag-Him-Down-The-Aisle Wedding Cake Topper

Peppermint Patty & Ceramic Miss Piggy Mug

Ceramic Owl Plate with Raisins

Pink "I Am Grey" Elephant Tape Dispenser

Plastic Moose

Plastic Blue Flower in Coke Bottle

Captive for the Sheikh's Pleasure and Other Novels

Stranded with the Navy Seal
"Relax" Seashell Sign

Fancy Marble Elephant with Werther's Original Caramels


I have a good grandma (had two: one died). Both grandmas are/were voracious collectors of knick-knacks.

Dead Grandma collected trinkets from Disneyland, the mall, dollar stores, yard sales.

Alive Grandma collects bric-a-brac from Istanbul, Paraguay, chic antique stores, something called a bazaar, places where they serve you tea while you’re browsing.

Sometimes I wonder which grandma I am. I think I am Dead Grandma. 


None of the objects in this cabinet ever inhabited either grandma’s house, but they would all have fit very well in Dead Grandma’s house. Dead Grandma would have particularly loved Ceramic Miss Piggy Mug and Drag-Him-To-The-Aisle Wedding Topper and Plastic Dollhouse Toilet (no close-up provided, but can be found near the feet of Big Stuffed American Cock above), which she would have placed on a shelf in the kitchen because it made her think of the phrase ‘don’t shit where you eat.’ Dead Grandma liked kitsch but she didn’t know it. I doubt she ever heard the word ‘kitsch.’ Or maybe someone used the word in conversation with her but she quickly changed the subject so her ignorance of the term did not have the potential to reveal itself. I don’t think Dead Grandma read at all (maybe the TV Guide) but if she had been a reader she would have read books like Stranded with the Navy Seal. Here’s the synopsis: “Working on a cruise ship was supposed to be the perfect distraction for chef Cady Crenshaw. Instead, it made her the perfect target. Abducted and thrown overboard into foreign waters, she has only one shot at survival…and it comes at the hands of an irresistible ally.”

Alive Grandma would consider all of these knick-knacks ‘crap’ and ‘dust collectors’ except maybe for Big Stuffed American Cock, which she might place high atop her elegant walnut hutch because she would likely consider it ‘tasteful Americana kitsch’ and she is a very proud American (‘land of the free’) so she likes to show off her national pride on a regular basis. [I’ve promised to give Big Stuffed American Cock to a Canadian friend ironically but now I am wondering if I should not renege and instead give it to Alive Grandma unironically.] She would certainly consider Plastic Moose a ‘plaything for little children’ and she would not be caught dead with Captive for the Sheikh’s Pleasure, although she might not mind being found dead with The Christmas Wish by Nora Roberts (under “Cowboys Are My Weakness” Sign near Big Stuffed American Cock) because given the title it can be assumed that God has at least a peripheral role in the romance, surely.


Dead Grandma has been ash nearly twenty years. I wish we kept grandma in a plain urn or even just a little wooden box in her old curio, now resting in my parents’ dining room. Instead the curio contains various paperweights, a mug I got at a Hawaiian luau that’s shaped like a carved tiki, a ceramic replica of the Las Vegas skyline, and a tiny Thomas Kinkade portrait of a calm blue river abutting a thatched-roof cottage in winter.

And instead of living what would have been her Golden Years in her favorite curio, Dead Grandma is in a box in a cold and ornate mausoleum that she would have detested. But at least the sunlight shines bright on her each morning as she overlooks the San Francisco Bay.

Grandpa threw away all Dead Grandma’s ‘crap’ shortly after she died. He’s a very tidy man and didn’t want the dust collectors around anymore. But then he promptly married a woman called New Grandma who had plenty of her own ‘crap’ so I think he was probably just making room. Now Grandpa and New Grandma have a lot of the same old crap that Dead Grandma would have had, including a very nice portrait of Mickey Mouse holding a little child’s hand. It hangs in the dining room near the good china.


I’ve had to furnish and decorate several apartments in recent years as I’ve moved from place to place learning various things and not. When I put objects in places at my new residence — knick-knacks and trinkets and baubles and other clutter — I think of Dead Grandma’s home, every piece of beautiful crap in its place.

Dead Grandma always wanted me to do ‘real good’ in school though she never graduated the 8th grade. I had to quit a Critical Theory class in college because the professor had the same first name as Dead Grandma and I thought that she would be quite offended that she had to share a name with such a fancy lady. Now I overcompensate by
1. enjoying Big Macs,
2. shopping at WalMart,
3. not correcting people on their grammar,
4. going to antique stores to buy vintage plastic dollhouse toilets,
5. cracking my knuckles loudly and unapologetically in public,
6. pissing outside at concert venues when the bathroom line is too long,
7. watching sitcoms that star Kevin James,
8. using a fork when I eat Japanese food,
9. only shopping at Whole Foods when I’m desperate and it’s the only store around,
10. reading one crime novel for every two fancy books I read.

But sometimes when I have guests over I remove Ceramic Miss Piggy Mug from my shelf and replace it with Book by Barthes, which I had been using to prop up a side table.

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