My sister, Michelle, and I have a long-standing tradition: whenever either of us goes on a vacation, we bring the other back the most grotesque, cringe-worthy (or at least stupid) gift that we can find. This hallowed practice actually began some fifteen years ago when, on a family vacation with our parents, Michelle and I purchased a truly nightmarish tchotchke for my friend Nick.
For those who are curious: that horrific item, which I’m sorry to say I don’t have a picture of, was a white ceramic egg with a tiny camel hatching – yes, hatching – out of it. If I remember correctly, the camel’s tongue was hanging out of its mouth for some reason. We delivered it to Nick in an airplane vomit bag. That seemed fitting.
Suffice to say that over the years Michelle and I have exchanged a significant number of ridiculous things (the most recent example is this lovely horsepital play set). But it’s one of the earliest entries in this bizarre tradition that still stands out in my mind as being the most memorable. I’m talking, of course, about the Bean Lady.
The Bean Lady – so named because there were once a couple of beans in that pot that she’s holding – was a mainstay decoration in my childhood bedroom. (What’s that? No, I didn’t have a lot of high school girlfriends over. Why do you ask?)
She was also, obviously, terrifying.
On a number of occasions I turned the Bean Lady around so that she – and her weirdly crooked eyes – couldn’t watch me while I slept (this was an honest concern). On more than one instance I woke to find her turned back around, staring at my bed. Clearly the Bean Lady was possessed. Or, you know, Michelle was messing with me. One or the other.
All of which makes the following so sad: though it was Caitlin who lost more items of personal significance in our recent flood, I did lose a few things of sentimental value. Including the Bean Lady. She, along with some other crazy Michelle-gifts, were ruined when their storage box became the S.S. Sewage. Which, admittedly, also seems kind of fitting.
For all her history and all her horror, she will be missed. Requiem in pace, Bean Lady. I’m sure you’ll haunt me from beyond the grave anyway.