23 March 2009

An Afternoon at Grandpa's

I was sitting on the back porch with my Grandpa, rocking back and forth in wicker chairs he had lovingly crafted with his bare hands. I was thirteen years old. The sun was setting gently in the west, casting an orange glow across Lake Kenisawa. A bird chirped in the distance and I looked at my Grandpa, and he looked at me. We shared a silent moment of appreciation and then turned back to enjoy the scenery.

"Lovely evening," Grandpa said.

"The loveliest," I agreed.

I sipped on my iced tea, which had been brewed and left to sit on the windowsill, soaking up the sun's rays on that hot July afternoon. I hoped that Grandpa would tell me a story about his days as a traveling salesman in the 40s, or maybe a tale regarding the time he and Ken McCullum tried to start that vegetable stand. I'd heard that latter one about twenty times, but it never got old.

Instead, Grandma appeared at the screen door and asked if either of us was getting hungry. I glanced over at Grandpa and, predictably, his face darkened at her interruption.

"If I was hungry, woman, I'd get something to eat, now wouldn't I?" he said, his eyes remaining steadfastly fixed on the backyard.

"You got a big mouth when the boy's here, don't you, you big man," she remarked. "That's fine. How about you, Shawn, are you hungry?"

"No, ma'am," I said. "I'm fine."

"Bullshit," Grandpa said. "He's hungry, I'm hungry, now quit wasting time and just go get us something to eat."

I sipped my tea and tried to blend into my chair.

Grandma walked back into the kitchen and there I heard her getting some plates from the cabinet. A small rabbit hopped across the backyard, stopping every so often to look around before hopping on his way. Presently, Grandma came back with two plates and handed one to each of us. On my plate was a tube of Crest toothpaste. On Grandpa's plate was a handful of pennies. I bit my lip nervously and muttered, "Thanks."

"What the hell is this, woman? Pennies?" Grandpa yelled. He tossed the plate on the wooden floor of the porch, where it did not shatter, but, improbably, turned sideways and slipped through the slats to the earth below. The pennies went everywhere.

"You eat your pennies and you LIKE IT!" Grandma screamed.

Grandpa slapped his hands down on the arms of his rocker, fetched a deep sigh, and then said simply, "Well, that's it then." He stood, grabbed the shovel that was leaning against the house, and proceeded to bludgeon his wife of forty years to death right there on the porch. I ate my toothpaste silently, a lone tear streaming down my cheek.

The point of the story is this: when someone asks for something to eat, or if you yourself are hungry, don't put pennies or toothpaste on a plate and call it a meal. Use food. Food is great for cooking, and it's great for eating. It has lots of nutrients, and plenty of calories for energy. When it comes to satisfying your hunger, nothing does the job quite like food.


Steph said...

What kind of toothpaste was it?

dizzblnd said...

WOW! Here I thought this was going to turn into a story about your grandmother with Alzheimer's and how Grandpa lovingly cared for her for the rest of his life. What a plot twist!

Did you share your toothpaste with Grandpa or run away screaming? That Wikepedia linked explained all I needed to know about that substance you spoke of; thank you

Daniel said...

Good lord, I just hope that wasn't a true story.

If it wasn't, then wow, you're a great (read: creepy) story teller.

If it was, then.... I'm so sorry (bursts into tears)

Heather Cherry said...

You are a truly disturbed individual.

Kirsten said...

Food? Food will kill ya! Don't you know anything?

Shawn said...

Steph: It was Crest. Minty and delicious, but not very filling.

dizzblnd: Grandpa took the toothpaste away from me and then we spent the rest of the night digging a shallow grave under the porch. Later, we had roast beef sandwiches.

Daniel: Thank you for the condolences. It's still...it's still hard to talk about.

Heather: Why does everyone keep saying that?

Kirsten: You can't libel my sponsor! What the hell?

Carl said...

I am glad your family is like mine. I thought only mine is this normal.

unfinishedrambler said...

You do have issues. I must admit Heather is right and anyone else who has said that in the past. But with that incident happening early in your life, that explains a good part of it.

HumorSmith said...

This reminds me of my honeymoon and when I shoved my wife over Niagara Falls.

Shawn said...

Carl: My family tree is full of vines.

Rambler: Exactly. The issues and the explanations come as a package.

HumorSmith: uh, you know, these comments are public. Just so's ya know.

Margo said...

Shawn, you are truly blessed to have spent such important, life altering moments with your grandma and grandpa. And perhaps you shouldn't eat toothpaste. Baking soda might be a good substitute.

Knightmedic said...

Bullshit asshole! No thirteen year old would say "the loveliest" !!

Jen said...

....Or "presently". That was the give away. You almost had me there...almost.

I'm glad there are others who witnessed murder and poor cooking at an early age. As my dad used to say, "it puts hair on your chest".

Shawn said...

Margo: Toothpaste is much tastier than baking soda. Wash it down with some of that pink medicine they give kids for ear infections? That's some delicious eatin'.

Knightmedic: Whatever. I was a very special thirteen year old, given to fancy-boy ways. You're just upset that I'm airing the family's dirty laundry.

Jen: It does indeed. And in other places.

Dalton J. Fox said...

Toothpaste is a good alternative to real food. Pennies, not so much. So, you grandfather's reaction was probably the right one.

Chris said...

Holy tomolly. What was she thinking? Silly woman. You never, ever feed a man toothpaste and pennies. That's just silly. Everyone knows men don't like eating toothpaste and pennies hurt your teeth. Serves her right really.

Thinkinfyou said...

HOLY SHIT! For a moment there I started thinking about how much I miss my own Grandpa,tears were coming to my eyes,and then you hit me with that.LMAO! You are a sick,sick,man! I love it!

Shawn said...

Dalton: You make a good point. I still think food is the safest way to go in most situations.

Chris: Pennies also taste weird, kinda like blood. I guess that's why I always think of this story whenever I see blood.

Thinkinfyou: Yeah, I tear up too whenever I think about how difficult it was to talk to grandpa after that. Because of the psychological distance. And the strict visiting policies at the prison.

One Grumpy Old Man said...

What kind of shovel was it? My wife is starting to get a little sloppy too.

The Stabbing Pen said...

A Jewish or Italian grandmother would never act this way. What nationality are the people in this story? My grandmother feeds me when I visit her...as I'm pulling up in my car she's shoving food in my face already.

Shawn said...

OGOM: I don't know the brand, but it was sturdy. Also terribly hard to clean.

Stabbing Pen: Really? You think it's a culture thing?