Rub da Hump, Bub. - January 8, 2007

(Reconditioning Batteries)

During my summer break before seventh grade, my dad and I drove up to my grandparent's place in Vermont to visit for the weekend. My grandmother had recently passed away, and my dad liked to go up and visit as much as possible to check up on my grandfather, even though it cut into his gambling and boozing time significantly. I didn't mind much; I liked visiting Vermont. When I wasn't being force-fed ice cream sundaes, I was in my grandfather's workshop attached to the side of the house making ninja weaponry out of broom handles, electrical tape and box cutters. Vermont was awesome.

When we arrived, I hopped out of the car and ran to give my grandfather a hug. He was sitting on the front porch in a green lawn chair waiting for us, drinking a glass of warm Golden Anniversary beer and listening to a Red Sox game on an AM radio. His thick French Canadian accent welcomed us.

"Oh it's good to see you, bub. He's getting big, isn't he?"

"Yeah he is." Dad lit up a cigarette. "How have you been, Pop?"

"I been alright. Laura's not too hot though. Go in and say hi, bub."

My grandparents lived with my great aunt Laura for as long as I could remember. Aunt Laura was never married or had any kids. She came over to the states from Canada after retiring from her lifelong career as an elevator attendant. As one would suspect of a lifelong elevator attendant without ever seeing one, Aunt Laura had a hunchback. Not just bad posture; she was literally shaped like a candy cane, her head positioned very close to her belly button. Her condition wasn't as bad when I was younger, but it had progressed considerably over the years to the point that her stride had been reduced to a shuffle and she was in constant pain. It was this combination of old age, chronic suffering and 45 years of going up and down in a metal box that made Aunt Laura lose her grip on reality.

My dad and I walked inside and there was Aunt Laura; sitting in her leather armchair, 15 throw pillows on the back cushion supporting her hump, watching an episode of Full House on the wood paneled television in the living room. It was July and the heat was cranked all the way up.

"Hi Aunt Laura!" I ran over to her and gave her a gentle hug. Despite how weird she was, I really liked her, even though I suspected her of stealing the instruction manuals for my Nintendo games from time to time.

"Did you know that they used to boil babies like that in oil?" Aunt Laura pointed to the television. Michelle Tanner was sitting in her high chair, being spoon fed by Uncle Jesse.

"Uhhhh, no. I didn't know that, Aunt Laura." Her gaze returned to the show. She had a strange fixation with babies being boiled in oil. This first came up when my brother brought my newborn niece up to Vermont to visit. Aunt Laura held her in her arms lovingly, looked up my brother and just said it out of nowhere. It would be the last time that Aunt Laura was allowed to hold an infant.

My dad said hello to Aunt Laura in his customary way; kissing her on the forehead and rubbing her back in a circular motion, coaching an "Oooh, that's nice. Rub the hump, bub" out of her.

"How are you, Aunt Laura?"

"Oh, not so hot, bub. The doctor says that he wants to see some samples."

"Oh really? What kind of samples? Does he need some blood drawn or something?"

"Oh no, bub. He wants some of the tinkle. I have to bring it to him."

Aunt Laura had been visited by home health nurses for years. If a doctor said that he wanted a sample of something, he would have collected it there. On top of that, her physician was a woman. My dad became suspicious.

"Oh yeah? When did he say that he wanted the sample?"

"Tomorrow. It's waiting in the bedroom."

My dad and I looked at eachother, stood up and walked over to Aunt Laura's bedroom. It smelled terribly. There, sitting on the iron radiator, were two Vlassic pickle jars, both filled halfway with what was undoubtedly urine.

"...Jesus fucking Christ, Laura. Mikey, go get a trash bag."

I ran into the kitchen, grabbed a Hefty bag out from underneath the sink and ran back into Aunt Laura's room. Dad took the trash bag from my hands. As he was loading the hot jars of piss inside, I looked around the room. I realized when I was in there that I had never actually been in Aunt Laura's room before. One of the wood paneled walls was covered with picture frames. I walked over to examine one of them. It was an old black and white photo of a man in a casket at a wake. I looked at the frame to the right of the man in the casket, that one contained a picture of an old woman, again in a casket. I stepped back and realized that every picture on the wall was of the same subject. The only decoration in her room was a gigantic wall of sepia tone death.

"Dad, have you seen this before? It's all dead people."

"Yeah, Mikey. Aunt Laura is getting old, and sometimes old people get a little loony. She still loves you though. Here, take this to the trash out back by the workshop."

I held the bag as far away from me as possible as I walked out of the room, through the kitchen to the workshop, where I dumped the bag in a trashcan. When I came back, dad was explaining to Aunt Laura how she didn't need to keep those kinds of things in the house.

"Don't do anything with those samples, the doctor needs those. He also wants some of the stool."


"The stool. He says that he needs to see the stool, bub."

"Dad, what's stool?"

"It's shit, Mikey. Stool is shit. Laura, what are you talking about?"

"He needs the stool, bub. He told me to keep it nice and cool."

Dad kind of looked at her for a bit, trying to figure out what she meant. I stood there and watched him, Full House still playing in the background. Aunt Laura had a fixation on Full House, especially Baby Michelle. We found her wandering around on the second floor once, going room to room looking for her. Apparently, Aunt Laura was watching an episode where Michelle was being naughty and hiding in the attic while the family frantically searched for her.

My grandfather came back in and sat down in his chair. My dad asked him if he knew anything about a doctor needing samples. He didn't know anything about it. After a few more minutes of interrogation, my dad gave up and went to the fridge to grab a Golden Anniversary. I followed behind him, hoping to convince him to make me an ice cream sundae. He opened the door, stared inside for a few seconds, reached in and pulled out a white envelope that read "doctor" on the front. He opened it and started gagging.

Inside the envelope was shit. Aunt Laura was shitting in envelopes and storing them in the refrigerator.

My dad ran to the bathroom and puked. I remember that very specifically because I had never seen him puke before. I looked in the fridge, and sitting next to a carton of Egg-Beaters and a six pack of Golden Anniversary beer was a stack of envelopes, all with "doctor" written on the front of them in cursive.

We spent the next couple of hours throwing away all of the food in the fridge, bleaching the inside and driving to the A&P to pick up all new groceries for my grandfather and Aunt Laura, who spent the rest of the night in her chair with the 15 throw pillows, watching the TV intently, waiting for Baby Michelle to come back on.

Posted by KungFu Mike at 8:13 PM

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I was laughing so hard reading this story that I couldn't even finish my Lunchable without almost choking. Absolutely hilarious!

Posted by: at January 9, 2007 01:22 AM

That's fucked up. It's things like this that make me despise old people.

Posted by: Steve at January 9, 2007 06:31 AM

That Nick guy must be a Baby Nick like Baby Michelle...he was eating a Lunchable. That was gross dude. I can't believe you even told that story : ) Good one.

Posted by: Wayland at January 9, 2007 07:25 PM

Ugh. I can almost smell the the stench of old person and old person shit. Thanks.

Also, thanks for reminding me to put "off yourself before you get old" on my "to do" list. I almost forgot.

Posted by: dontwannacatchtheold at January 10, 2007 05:23 PM

nice, you're from a french Canadian family?

Posted by: Mike at January 10, 2007 07:19 PM

So here I am trying to fall asleep at 5 in the morning, but instead, I'm almost throwing up. Thanks, Kung Fu Mike. Thanks a fuckin lot.

Posted by: Pi at January 11, 2007 02:16 AM

Yeah Steve, my girlfriend says the same thing. I'm OK with it. Atleast I don't watch Full House though, I just want to slug Bob Faget.

Posted by: at January 12, 2007 06:36 PM

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