Here’s a different kind of end-of-life question for baby boomers: How would you feel about your kids or grand-kids finding your sex toys after you die? How about old love letters or photos you’d rather not share on Facebook or Twitter (and certainly not Linked In!)?
It’s yet another example of the many threads of our lives that we often don’t think about until it’s too late to dispose of the evidence before we shuffle off this mortal coil. In many ways, love and death (or sex and death) are weirdly intertwined.
There’s a great opinion piece in today’s New York Times titled “The Sex Toys in the Attic” by I Was Misinformed columnist Joyce Wadler. With the looming heart surgery of an old boyfriend who had given her a particularly unusual sex toy, she started pondering how to get rid of the thing which had been stashed away in a dark closet of forgetfulness.
From the column:
But now, with the old beau’s surgery looming, the toy — rather its disposal — was on my mind. This was a problem. It was not one of those unused household items you can donate to Housing Works; they don’t even take sheets. I’m an environmentally conscious person, but I couldn’t see taking it to old electronics day at Union Square. I could put it into the appropriate recycling bin on my floor, but then the neighbors might figure it out: It’s her. All day, all night, I hear buzzing coming out of that apartment. No wonder she’s always smiling. I might try to dispose of it with the kitchen garbage, hiding it with coffee grounds and dead things from the back of the refrigerator, as I do old tax reports, but then I’d be in violation of the recycling law.
I know, I know — I should have been one of those women who held out for diamonds.
But disposing of sex paraphernalia — actually all those embarrassing items you have stashed around the house — is something every boomer should be concerned about. The days are dwindling down to a precious few and some of you have a nasty cough. Do you want the people clearing out your house, particularly your children, to find those feathery, metallic, rubbery, polymer blend items you ordered one drunken night a few months after you’d been forced to take early retirement? Do you want them to know their big, tough construction worker dad liked to dress up in heels and a boa and sing “La La La” from “No Strings,” one of Richard Rodgers’s weaker efforts?
She brings up some very valid points. Here, she suggests in addition to making a person in charge of your medical power of attorney, appoint a person who can clear out the evidence when you go to the hospital:
I know no one likes to think about death. But just as the responsible person designates someone to make medical decisions in case he or she is incapacitated, we should all have designated, let’s call them Eradicators, to come over and clean the house after we expire. Remember Marilyn Monroe. Not that I can prove anything, just saying. Your Eradicator should be given house keys, a list of items to be destroyed and their hiding places — you don’t want to be in intensive care screaming, “Back of the sock drawer!” They’ll just increase your meds.
In the wonderful film, Nora’s Will, Nora commits suicide by overdosing on prescription pills. She was in her 60s and divorced for 20 years from her husband Jose. The family gathers for Nora’s funeral, and her two young granddaughters go snooping in a drawer in the bedroom, and find a sex toy. They don’t realize what it is.
One girl says, “What’s this?” Her sister replies, “It’s a flashlight.”
Think about this when you are getting your affairs in order.