As I write this, my family and some hired hands are in the process of cleaning out my grandparents' house. Due to my grandmother's failing health, we put her in a nursing home back in September and now we're in the process of selling the property. My grandparents seldom threw anything away that could've been useful in the future (they were children of the Great Depression, go figure) so their melange now makes my parents' house even more cluttered. Whatever we don't want or can't take home will be sold at an estate sale sometime later this winter.
With family being family, I had to take my share as well. As some longtime readers may recall, my uncle passed away in 2008 and I was a primary benefactor in his will. The estate sale meant cleaning out his old bedroom, something I had procrastinated upon for three-plus years partially because it would be just so time-consuming. Uncle Jim never moved out of his folks' place, so this was his undisputed domain and it'd been kept semi-intact since his death. Regardless, whatever I inherited or wanted will have to go to storage.
My uncle's bedroom had two signifigant focal points. The first was his stereo system, which based on my rudimentary knowledge of archaeology was cutting edge for circa 1979. It was a record player attached to a cassette player and some type of receiver, plus a quadrophonic speaker system, all courtesy of the fine people at Zenith. I can't wait to play his old 33 1/3's just to see if that whole thing still works. The second bullet point, however is a little more personal and maybe a tad embarrassing.
From Jim's 16th birthday in July 1972 to March 2009 (when his subscription expired) he subscribed to a magazine called Playboy. To my blessing and bane, he kept nearly every issue. Including some older issues that we assume he bought at a garage sale or "borrowed" from my great-uncle, that's nearly 450 old magazines. It's a blessing because some issues overlap with my dad's decidedly smaller collection of old Playboys, thus I can sell them on eBay and alleviate some attic clutter. It's a bane because... well, 450 vintage magazines aren't the easiest thing to load out of a second-story bedroom in a short period of time.
At this point, you're probably a little alienated or laughing your butt off. I will admit now that in my early teens I used to sneak up to my uncle's bedroom and glance at his mags. Fifteen-plus years later packing all these magazines gave me a wistful, nostalgic feeling, an emotion that was awkward and a little discomforting but nevertheless bittersweet. I remembered certain issues as if they were yesterday, the short-lived fads and occasional morsels of historical irony. As a grown man I can now appreciate articles written by the likes of Joyce Carol Oates, John Updike, and Kurt Vonnegut.
I suppose if I had to pick an all-time favorite Playmate, it would be Sherry Konopski, Miss August 1987. In hindsight I'm not sure why I chose Sherry; physical attraction aside, I suppose I found her more relatable than the other naked bombshells who claimed to be "the girl next door." I later learned that Ms. Konopski had a somewhat inspirational epilogue to her centerfold; a 1995 car accident left her crippled from the waist down, and two years later she became the first woman to pose nude in Playboy able-bodied and disabled. Judge her if you must, but Ms. Konopski is an inspiration to well-endowed paraplegics everywhere.
The process of moving all the magazines to my parents' basement took about a week; first to sort them, than to pack and carry all the plastic tubs. As for the ginormous stereo equipment, I managed to lift that all out in less than two hours. I can't really say this was a bonding moment for me and my uncle because that's kinda creepy, but in hindsight I kinda appreciate that he didn't care that I was reading his vast stash of girly mags. If my uncle's death marked the end of an era, belatedly packing his belongings symbolized my slowly fading youth.