My grandfather had ashtrays in his house.

It’s funny because I remember my parents having them when I was small and then later I bought them one, quite by accident when I was on one of my first trips away from home – I’d thought it was a coaster.  I didn’t assume they smoked.  I just thought it was pretty – or really – that my father would like it.  It had a fawn on it, you know, a baby deer, and I thought it was cute and classic and the bottom was wood.  I didn’t know what the divets on the sides of the glass were for.  I didn’t grow up in a smoking culture.  I thought all of those things sitting around people’s houses were coasters.

Come to think of it, not many people I knew had them sitting around.  Just my own family and my Pap.  I guess it was politeness in steel country to have something like that for when people wanted to relax after work.

I remember moving to Maryland and people didn’t take their shoes off at the door.  In fact, they looked at you strangely when you did it yourself.  As though it was you who was being impolite.

I never would have ever dreamed of walking around a high school friend’s house with my shoes on.  How entirely rude.

But then in Maryland I realized that taking off your shoes meant you went somewhere at some point where you might get dirty, and only blue collar people did that.


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