What the renter left behind

Background: Mr VOW and I used to own rentals. We used every means available to screen people. However, the homes we had must have been haunted, because almost all the renters ended up being Demon Spawn, straight out of Hell.

One lady left a massive amount of STUFF behind: furniture, books, enough crutches to stock an orthopedic ward, and her husband.

Oh, he was dead.

It was actually the container with her late husband’s “cremains.”

Now, in the early Nineties, we had AOL. I wandered around the place, and found an area for wanna-be writers. It was like home! I applied, and was “hired” as a host in the area’s chat room, “The Instant Cafe.” I had an official screen name, NOVLVow. Members who “worked” in the various areas of AOL were not paid, but our AOL subscription was free.

As much as I loved hosting, I REALLYREALLYREALLY wanted to work in the Humor Department. I knew all the NOVLs there, and I made sure the manager knew I was always interested in working the boards!

After we acquired the renter’s husband, I visited with the HD manager in an Instant Message, and I told him about the new occupant of our garage. I said I really didn’t know what to do, but it just didn’t seem RIGHT to toss the guy out next trash day.

The manager perked up, and said, "We ought to have a contest! ‘Suggestions on what to do with a Dead Guy’s Ashes! Winner to get–the ashes!’ "

So, indeed, the Humor Department ran that contest! As the provider of the contest element, so to speak, I was allowed to officially participate in responding to the thread in my NOVL name. When the contest finished, I stayed at the Humor Dept as a staffer!


That’s just downright creepy and hilarious at the same time.

What was the winning Entry?

I’m intrigued as to how this arrived here for an event that occurred 25-30 years ago!

It was prompted by a thread about food left behind for a new homeowner.


There were many, many entries. I laughed so hard I cried.

Most people said, “Well, if the guy liked to do such-and-so…”

I had to explain over and over, I never MET him. I knew nothing about him, at all.

More entries than I could count said to use him as fertilizer. How unimaginative!


According to this documentary I saw,* if you plant the ashes in your garden, you’ll grow a new person.

*Night Gallery, “Green Fingers.”

Aside from fertilizer :eyeroll: , one suggestion was to mix him with the lime used to outline the football field on a school campus.

One guy wanted to know if the decedent was a drinker. Of course, I didn’t know. The suggestion was to put the ashes in an empty wine jug, then use a lamp kit to convert the bottle to a table lamp.

" That way, he can stay half-lit all the time!"


My absolute favorite contest entry for “what to do with the dead guy’s ashes” was the suggestion to ship them to Africa to make MREs for cannibals.


Has all the election bullshit numbed everyone to oddball stories?

The winning entry was a woman who wanted the ashes for herself. Her husband had died some time ago, and she was very reluctant to part with his “cremains.” Her kids even made it a point to remember Dad whenever they went someplace. “Don’t forget Dad!” The urn would sit on the front seat of the car next to the lady.

She finally decided to take the next step in her grieving, and had her husband inurned at the cemetery.

When the contest appeared, she realized she MISSED carting her husband around, and she wanted our dead guy’s ashes as a replacement.

We tried contacting her, to tell her she won, but never got a reply.

(I actually voted for the “make MREs for cannibals”)

I caught part of a show on TV recently, “My Strange Addiction” or something like that. There was a young woman whose husband died unexpectedly only a few years after they’d married. He was cremated and she toted his ashes everywhere. Then she wondered what the cremains tasted like, so she stuck her wet finger in the box and tasted them. She then decided that was a good way to have her husband always be with her, so she started doing that every day and at the end of the show was getting concerned that she’d eventually run out of husband.

If the lady in the show had won the cremains and continued to do the same thing, would that have made her a bigamist?

All I can say is, that would make one hell of a white elephant gift!

I like the “White Elephant” gift! The place where I worked had a gift exchange every year. One guy picked up an art book from the sale table of Waldenbooks. That was THE worst gift, and it got recycled every year!

So, we had a LOT of fun with the contest, but I still had a dead guy in my garage. One of my sister’s best friends took pity on him. She carted him home, and tried to find his family.

No luck.

She came from a big family, six or so siblings. They all gathered at Tahoe for Thanksgiving. She brought along the dead guy. They sat a place for him at the table, and he was included in all conversations. After the meal, the ashes were divided up, and the entire family scattered him over Lake Tahoe.


Ewwwwwwwww! I would like to swim in that Lake.

mid-Daughter has ‘custody’ of her husband’s entire family. In urns. She claims she cannot decorate the living room because there’s so many urns. She even has his family’s pet Collie.
It’s a very depressing room.
When we went to visit we stayed in a hotel. I have a tendency to ‘catch’ spirits. Don’t need a family of dead Filipino/Americans(and dog)living rent free in my head.

Funny stuff @VOW