Here’s another tale from my fascinating childhood:
When I was little, my parents were good friends with morticians. Yes, people who prepare dead people for their funerals. Now most morticians that I know of today have their businesses in office buildings or old fancy mansions or in abandoned Godfather’s Pizza restaurants ( if you live in Ames). But since Clinton, Minnesota was soooo small –600 people—now 599 minus the dead one—these morticians had their business right inside their home.
Now, if the fact that a dead person was laying in a casket in the spare room isn’t enough to make you feel a little queasy, try being a 7 year old visiting that house on a stormy evening. Try being a 7 year old sent into that dead room ALONE.
“Hey Tori, we want to play Sorry. Why don’t you just go into the spare room and get the game at the top of the closet.”
And being the obedient child that I pretended to be at other peoples’ houses, I got up from the table where the couple’s teenage daughter, Debbie, was sharing her sandwich with Bridget, the poodle (and I mean SHARING—she took a bite, the dog took a bite, she took a bite…you get the idea—eewwww—I mean why couldn’t Debbie stop eating dog saliva and get the game? She was used to dead people. She slept in that house, for goodness sake!) and I walked slowly to the dead room. As I opened the accordion door that separated the dead room from the main living area, the smell of formaldehyde flooded my senses and I saw the caskets. And I knew that at least one of them held dead men. Or maybe all of them. And maybe some dead women too. So, keeping my eyes straight ahead of me and making my little legs move as fast as they possibly could in my state of fear, I made my way quickly to the closet, pulled out the game, and made it out of the room alive! I was truly terrified that one of those waxy dead guys was going to sit up in their caskets and grab me and that everybody would be so busy talking about cabins and Girls Scouts and rice pudding, that no one would ever find me and I would be stuck forever in the dead room with all of the dead people.
Well, thankfully, this kidnapping by the deceased never occurred, and I even remember entering the room a few other times to get folding chairs or a tablecloth or something and I always came back to join the living. I guess no one cared then about the damage that would do to my 7 year old psyche. Living people didn’t really care about psyches then. But sometimes I do wonder, why couldn’t we have had them over to our house once in awhile? We didn’t even have a dead room, but we had a clothes chute that went from the upstairs to the basement! It was so cool! We could have shown them that! And then, maybe, they would think I was so important and special that they would never send me into the dead room again.