Somehow this morning I got on the topic my my gramma's Real Romance magazines and now I'm obsessed.
My grandmother had a relatively large house--I mean, it was four bedrooms, and it had an upstairs and a downstairs and a large dining room with really cool open-in-with-a-latch windows that I failed to appreciate till I was old, and also a knotty pine kitchen, and I chose the house we rented in LA due to the knotty pine kitchen alone. Our tasteless landlady, who'd "updated" our 1920s house with brass everything and beige carpet, had threatened to "update" the kitchen and it would have been over my dead body had she removed that knotty pine while I was still living there.
Really, when you look at all the things I like, most of those things are because my grandmother had them at some point, for example screen doors with the person's initial in the metal. LOVE.
Anyway, despite her large-ish house, gramma had one bathroom only, which I guess is what people did in the old days, although I don't know how the hell you have five kids and a husband and one bathroom. Oh, and no shower, either. You had to take baths. I mean, that's efficient. Was everyone just late every day, or...?
By the time I came around, all of gramma's kids had gone except for my Uncle Jim, who tormented me reguarly, and my Aunt Kathy, who was already dating my Uncle Leo and in college and basically not home. So the upstairs was a pretty empty place, and the only reason you went up there was to go to the bathroom, and it was kind of dark and scary up there, and please see earlier reference to my Uncle Jim, who was a jerk.
He'd creep into one of the empty bedrooms and just quietly growl from the dark as I walked by. Or sometimes, if it was daytime, he'd go under a bed or lie on the landing with his eyes rolled back in his head. The worst part was, WEEKS would go by and he'd fail to scare me, either because he was bored or he was the most diabolical, evil person on earth (I suspect option 2), so I'd get complacent, and go pee all cheerfully and
out he'd jump from a bedroom and scare the CRAP right out of me, which is unfortunate seeing as I was just out of the bathroom.
But I digress.
The OTHER part of gramma's bathroom, the unscary, un-Uncle Jim part, was that you could spend many a delightful time in there. It smelled of Dove pink soap and Jean Nate and cigarettes, and there was a squishy toilet seat and it was warmer in there than the rest of the house, maybe because it was so small.
If this weren't lovely enough, on a little stool across from the toilet were gramma's many books and magazines, including, if I recall correctly, the book Mandingo, and please see above reference to how anything gramma had I later went on to like.
June's gramma. Encouraging June to ask for the dark meat, since 1965.
Not ONLY were there good romance novels up there, but also scads of magazines with titles like True Romance, True Confessions, Real Romance, Frustrated Housewife, There's No Internet Yet, and so on.
As I recall, these magazines were pretty racy. I remember my cousin Brigid and me--and right there is a bad combination at all times, always--taking a stack of those magazines, closing the door to one of the upstairs bedrooms, and reading aloud to each other in a screamy whisper voice as we learned words like "manhood" and phrases including "peaks of ecstasy."
I must have been about 8 when I read one of those stories on my own, and in it, a woman and her husband were getting ready in the morning, and he did something dreamy and romantic, and our heroine said she wished it was time for bed right then and there.
"God, she just woke up," I remember thinking. "Why does she wanna go back to sleep now? Weirdo."
When I was a teenager, I got a big stack of those magazines from gramma's house. I can't remember if she was throwing them out or what, but my best friend Donna and I splayed across the couch reading those stories out loud, and we didn't have to use whisper screamy giggly voice.
One woman had finally bagged some dude named Frankie, and they had athletic coitus. Our fearless narrator reported to us: "A drop of sweat from Frankie's nose. A precious gift."
You can imagine. My friend Donna and I will STILL say that to each other, and guess who's pissed that Christmas just passed? Because I so want to send her a vial with a small amount of liquid right now, because what a precious gift.
The point of all this is, I've spent the last hour online trying to read articles from those magazines circa 1970-1980, and the only choice you have is to buy them on eBay for ten thousand dollars apiece. What a rip. I totally shoulda saved gramma's volumes from back then.
They'd be a precious gift.