When my grandfather retired from the pulp mill they gave him a trophy. I write “they” because I do not know exactly who gave it, whether it was management or co-workers, and if it was co-workers, as I suspect, whether they all chipped in or it was the effort of a few individuals. Here is the thing, the reason I suspect it was co-workers behind the trophy, and the cause for my writing this post: the figure piece of the trophy was a horses’s ass. It was the hind quarter of a horse, cut off just above the thigh, painted gold. And the trophy was inscribed “kiss our ass, old man.”

I never saw this trophy until after my grandmother passed away. I had never heard of it before that time either. My father never spoke of it. But not long after his wife passed my grandfather dug his trophy out of storage and put it on the mantle in his den. There it stayed until he passed.

After my grandfather’s funeral, his grandchildren each selected a personal item to keep. My cousins selected among his pipes and hats. I chose the trophy.

There is mystery behind this trophy. I know that my grandfather liked to call children “old man.” That’s what he called me and my male cousins. I would wager that, as an elderly statesman of the pulp mill, he called the younger men he supervised “old man” in the same affectionate manner.

Why would they tell him to kiss their asses, or more precisely, their collective ass? My father said it was probably because my grandfather liked to use that directive himself. But would he tell his subordinates to kiss his ass? It seems unlikely. And if the relationships had been acrimonious I don’t think my grandfather would have kept the trophy around.

My grandfather was proud of the trophy. It stands to reason that he did something good to deserve it. That something must have involved telling someone to kiss his ass. To whom did he tell it? It wouldn’t be notable just to tell anyone to kiss an ass. The notable thing would be to tell someone to kiss your ass who doesn’t usually get that invitation.

And when would be a better time to do it than when tendering your resignation?

So anyway, I took the trophy to college, but when my dad saw it displayed in my room he told me he wanted it to stay at home. He thought I was making fun. I wasn’t though. I only hope that, one day, I’ll have a similar opportunity.

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