The Almost X-Rated Garage Sale

Photo from YourHoustonNews.com

Hubby and I hosted a church dinner this last Saturday at our house. About 10-15 of us get together once a month, bring potluck dishes and consume lots of wine. It’s always a blast.

I still don’t quite know how I ended up telling the story about my grandmother and “The Almost X-Rated Garage Sale” but I did. I realized the next day, I’d been laughing so hard I’d left off half the story! Since y’all are my posse, I’ll give you everything here (except the parts that would get me disowned).

It all started with the “color of the covers”… The covers on Harlequin/Sihouette romance novels that is.

I’m trying to figure out where I first heard this but I distinctly remember getting the following information at a writer’s meeting:

The colors on the covers of Harlequin and Silhouette category romances tell you about the amount of sex you will find in the books. (At least they used to.)

Note: Category romances are the ones that come out each month – you order them by line (Intrigue, Blaze, Special Edition) so you know what you’re getting in terms of sex and relationship.

  • Pastels such as pink or blue will have no actual sex scenes and will end in marriage.
  • Deep greens, blues, purples will have at least one sex scene and will end in marriage.
  • Red covers will have multiple sex scenes and do NOT have to end in marriage.

Here’s a great post on what Harlequin has to say about their covers.

To get back to Saturday night…

A male/female discussion was in full swing when I sat down at one end of the table, I just kind of turned it on it’s head with this  comment:

“Hell yes, romance novels are like female porn. Even my grandmother was into the red covers–”

“The ‘red covers’???” (This got asked simultaneously by three people.)

I had a moment where I looked around and re-grouped, realizing that I wasn’t in a crowd of romance writers, who would probably know I was talking about a Harlequin Blaze (or at least a sexy book).

So I explained the color coding system above and one of my guy pals said, “You’re saying your GRANDMOTHER read those books?? How did you even find that out?”

Well…y’all have heard about my family before. We’ve got creative potty-mouths and gang-banging chickens. There’s even a Bag Whore or two. Very few subjects are sacred.

Anyway, several years back, I clued my female relatives into the whole “Red Covers” thing. Several of the ladies immediately went in together on a monthly subscription. My mom’s best friend got them delivered to her house because she has a covered porch. (Remember this is a small town in Missouri.)

She’d read them and pass them on until everyone who was interested had gotten a peek. We had a fine time talking about the anatomical impossibility of some of the scenes and, when one of the authors described a hero as “God of Beefcake,” all the ladies in my family laughed themselves senseless.

When my grandmother passed away, we found tons of Blaze novels and various “red covers” at her house. She never said a word…just somehow made sure she was the final stop  on the “Red-Cover Train.”

My mom and aunties also found other  things. Things we REALLY didn’t want to know about…

They were cleaning out my grandmother’s bedroom when one of them opened the drawers of the bedside table. Her mouth dropped open and all she could say was: “Oh. My. God.”

My other aunt walked over and peered over the first one’s shoulder before sitting down on the bed and saying, “Oh. My. GOSH” a ton of times.

Apparently, there were some…um…personal massagers in that there drawer.

My mother, being who she was (hilarious), immediately started cracking jokes about “what a big bang the garage sale was gonna be.”

My favorite gems:

  • Maybe we can curtain a corner off like they do in the video store and sell them in there. (Everyone wanted to know how she knew about the adult section in the video store.)
  • We could have PG-13 and X-rated sections – one would just have the Red Covers and the other would have BOTH.
  • What if we get some of that raffia like they have at the mall and tie the Red Covers together with the massagers?
  • Do you think it would make things more upscale if we included a pretty washcloth like they do at The Body Shop?

I was over in California, just busting a gut laughing about all this. I didn’t get to see any of the items in question, but I heard about them for weeks.

Finally, the garage sale weekend came and I could NOT wait to hear all the details. I called my mom the minute I woke up on Sunday and asked, “How did it go??? Did you get arrested for porn trafficking?”

“Your aunt wouldn’t let me do it,” she said. “She was afraid we’d end up in the Daily News and she’d have to go into seclusion.”

“Well, what did you do with all of it then?”

“We gave it to Goodwill.”

And the jokes started all over again…

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever seen at a garage sale? Have you ever sold anything you were embarrassed about later? Ever been written up in the paper for it? Enquiring minds LOVE to know these things here at More Cowbell!

Jenny

About Jenny Hansen

Avid seeker of "more"...More words, more creativity, More Cowbell! An extrovert who's terribly fond of silliness. Founding blogger at Writers In The Storm (http://writersinthestormblog.com). Write on!
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69 Responses to The Almost X-Rated Garage Sale

  1. That is an unbelievable story!!! Red covers, hmmm???

    Like

  2. LMAO!!!! oh my God is right!!! I never knew about the color coding of Harlequin Romance novels…
    This is a hilarious story.. and kudos to your grandmother! 😉 Goodwill.. that is absolutely priceless!!!!
    I have a “stash” and once my mom came over and sat on the edge of my bed and we fell silent for a moment. There was this low “hummmmm” and my mom looked at me.
    I gave her a look and we both started laughing. I forgot I put one under the mattress!

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      I’m LMAO off right back, Darlene! I think I’d have died if my mom every came over and heard the BOB (Battery Operated Boyfriend) humming. BAHAHAHAHA.

      p.s. The accountants who are racing around my office hallways with tax returns think I’ve lost my marbles in here.

      Like

  3. Sooo funny Jenny. I love garage sales. not necessarily to buy anything, but they are interesting.🙂 Yours is the most interesting one I’ve heard about.

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    • Jenny Hansen says:

      You can bet that after reading Tom’s comment below and reminding myself of this story that I’ll be selling some Red Covers at the next garage sale. It’s the very least I can do for my neighbors, don’t you think??

      Like

  4. Here’s to your grandmother!

    Like

  5. This is hysterical! As I get older, I’ll be sure to – uh – clean out my bedside drawers at the very least.

    Like

  6. Stacy Green says:

    LMFAO. When I first saw this post title, I figured you almost sold some of your naughty panties in a garage sale, but this is much better. What an awesome grandma, Jenny! Those are the kinds of stories that never get old. And I had no idea about the Harlequin covers, lol. Not a romance reader. You really do learn something every day!

    Like

  7. OMG I LUV it!!! Your grandmother rocked…seriously!!
    I can just picture it now. LOL!!
    Hubby and I have hit a LOT of yard sales but we’ve never come across an x-rated one or even an x-rated table. Now that’d be something…squeee!! LOL!!

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Are you kidding me? If you guys came across a garage sale like that, you’d make and distribute flyers at Starbucks for those people. There’d be some serious pimping going on…

      Of course, you’re finish shopping for yourselves first.

      Like

  8. Oh, my. This is so hilarious I almost can’t STAND it!! Thanks for the super loud guffaws this morning, Jenny – I REALLY needed it!!

    Like

  9. I love the curtain idea! They totally should’ve done that and sold the items. I can’t believe they donated them to Goodwill. Can you imagine the look on the face of the person who had to open that bag? Priceless. If only we had a pic of it. (the Goodwill person, not the actual items).

    This just made my week. All the other blog posts better step up because this is hilarious. Love it!

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      The look on the Goodwill ladies face was what started the second round of jokes. I could NOT believe they sent that over to Goodwill but the argument was they could drop the box on the back doorstep ANONYMOUSLY.

      Like

  10. Guess this explains why you are so shy and retiring, Jenny.

    Like

  11. Marcia says:

    Hilarious, Jenny! Love your grandmother! Would love to have been with your mom and aunts when they opened the drawer.
    Funny thing about mothers…the kids think we’re bland, normal people. I tell mine all the time, “there’s a lot you don’t know about me.”
    Maybe you should check your mom’s drawers!

    Like

  12. tomwisk says:

    A girlfriend in my past was a great fan of bedtime reading and an unreconstructed scavenger. A weekend drive wasn’t complete without many, many stops at yard sales and tag sales. At one stop she bought a box of romance novels. She was in heaven and I wrote off sex for six months. Fast forward to three nights later. She’s reading one of the books and she turns beet red. She hands me the book and I read it. The love scene was explicit. The heroine seemed to “find” love every ten pages or so. I wanted to go back and meet whoever put the books up for sale. As for grandma, the golden agers in our midst still enjoy a roll in the hay. They’re just quieter than we are.

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Tom – I sat at my desk chortling over this:

      “The heroine seemed to “find” love every ten pages or so. I wanted to go back and meet whoever put the books up for sale.”

      Like

  13. OMG! I’m howling in the middle of SBUX. Mascara running.

    Can. Not. Reread.

    Like

  14. I LOVE this. The washcloth crack killed me…pictured all those red covers with an accordion pleated washcloth behind a ‘massager’ and tied up with the rafia Makes me want to create that bundle for a newly divorced friend. Thanks!

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      The washcloth and the raffia ripped it for me too. My mom was just the queen of the one liners – I am but a lowly apprentice by comparison. (And I think your newly divorced friend DESERVES a nice “bundle.”)😀

      Like

  15. Chihuahua0 says:

    Very amusing story.

    Like

  16. StoriesAndSweetPotatoes says:

    That is hilarious and the ending of the story is the best part😀 I didn’t know that about the old covers but now it seems kind of obvious.

    Like

  17. A friend of mine accidentally donated a sex toy to the thrift store. (She meant to toss in in the garbage and it landed in the wrong bin. LOL) Love the story and your grandmother!

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  18. Your family sounds like mine, Jenny. Nothing is sacred or unwelcome to the discussion.

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    • Jenny Hansen says:

      We have a lot more fun than all those proper types, don’t we, Louise??!

      Like

      • my girls and I decided one time to come up with a rating size for ‘the girls’. so there are
        boobies, boobettes, booooobs and BOOOBS (with the appropriate cupped palms gesture)

        these 4 words describe the variation of cup size in my siblings and daughters LOL

        Like

  19. Sharla Rae says:

    Great story and I agree. Older women rock and should never be underestimated. Even when the bods wear out, in the mind you’re still young.🙂

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      You know it, girlfriend! And the BOB’s will certainly keep the bod from wearing out! My grandmother lived to be 89 years old and she was no tiny woman. I’m just sayin…

      Like

  20. Jane Sadek says:

    Some days, when I’m a day or two behind reading the blogs I keep up with, I think, “I need to cut some of these from my google reader list.” This will never happen to your blog. I may not read every word of every blog your write, but when you brighten my day like this, I know I’ll be forever true to More Cowbell.

    Like

  21. Julie Glover says:

    I have to tell this one. I used to run a church preschool, and one of our fundraisers was a massive “garage sale.” We invited church goers, preschool parents, and community members to donate items. We would go through the items ahead of time, arrange them, and price the goods. More than once, we preschool staffers would be going through the clothing before the sale and pull out something which brought an “Oh wow. Did they really think we could put that out at a CHURCH PRESCHOOL sale?” There were some super-sexy and creative garments donated. I mean sure, we wanted more kids at our preschool, but we weren’t trying to get them by offering up outfits which encourage reproduction to parents at our fundraiser. We had quite a few laughs over those items!

    Like

  22. KM Huber says:

    I suspect that Goodwill had more good will for a while, maybe anonymously, maybe not. Am tempted to send this post to my critique group as they dismissed my remarks regarding stringent romance guidelines. I first got mine from the actual Harlequin guidelines; a friend of mine actually got one published about twenty years ago.

    Hysterical post, Jenny.

    Karen

    Like

  23. LauraDrake says:

    NOW I understand you completely – It’s genetic!

    You made me smile on a Monday, and given the level of stress in my office, that’s not easy to do!

    Oh this will go down in the Cowbell Annals – Thanks for sharing, Jenny!

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Oh, it’s absolutely genetic, Laura. Taught to me at my mama’s sainted knee. This was the lady who could stand in line for the potty for 10 minutes and come back and tell you a 20 minute story that would send you back to the potty.

      Like

  24. K.B. Owen says:

    Woo-hoo, go, Granny! LOL!

    Like

  25. NOW, since my first one got nuked when the software insisted I hit the back button and sign in to WordPress…

    “God of Beefcake”, indeed. I had no idea that there was an existing deity belonging to said beefcake. What sacrifices does its worship require? Probably virgin cheesecake, huh.

    If they hadn’t gone to Goodwill, you could have offered them up as a “brown bag” special on EBay.

    My sister liked the Deep greens, blues, purples. She had a few hardcore ones in her collection too, that would have been reds, had they been Harlequin or Silhouette, instead of alternative press. I sort of ranged towards the pastels, myself. I like plot more. Although I don’t read much in the way of romance on my own. I tend towards sf/f/h. I do read books lent to me, though, and those are among them. We swap books around, in our family. Although the “romance” reading may well be hindered, now, since that sister moved to Florida while the others are still in New York State.

    I’ve never hosted a garage sale. So far as I am aware, my sisters and brother haven’t; but, as they neither live near me, nor tell me everything they do, I would not put it past them. ;3

    Of course, I was originally going to just write the words “a post”.😄

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Oooooh, a Brown Bag Sale! Fabulous idea for the next time, Elizabeth. (And with my family, you can be sure there will be a next time for these kinds of shenanigans.)

      Like

  26. I LOOOVE your grandma Jenny! I had to wait for well-meaning friends to introduce me to the fascinating world of romance reading😀

    Garage sales, I think the strangest was a coffin.😆 Yeah, my sister and I went a few rounds about whether it was used or not! Oh, BTW, the house was across the street from a cemetery.

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      A coffin?? Blurk… I do LOVE cemeteries though. And my grandma was pretty fun by the time she got to the end of her life – closer to the beginning, she was a hellion!

      Like

  27. Natalie Hartford's Hubby says:

    I can only picture David Dilbeck (Burt Reynolds in StripTease) standing in the section of the yard sale – covered in vaseline sniffing grandma’s dryer lint! Yelling SOLD!! LOL!

    Like

  28. Emma says:

    I think my grandmother had some of those red covers too!

    Like

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