My family loves to rehash curious memories. There is a common familial thread , a yearning to be eccentric. Nobody wants to talk about normal, average family memories like birthdays, graduations or personal achievements but physical mishaps, bizarre facts, and abandoned dreams, every detail is examined.
This past weekend my sister had a “do you remember?” episode. She said “ Do you remember that bookcase at Gami’s ( we call our grand-smother Gami – I refer to her as grand-smother as she can smother every morsel of emotional comfort out of anybody in ten minutes or less. I’ve timed her. ) My sister asked “ Do you remember that bookcase at Gami’s that had all the bookcovers turned inside out?”.
I didn’t remember.
“How can you not remember that? It was so weird and we couldn’t look at the books. Remember? What do you think those books were about? I mean why would the book covers be turned inside out?”.
Can you sense the hope? The longing for confirmation that we do, in fact, come from a family full of peculiarities?
What I do remember about my grand-smothers house was that she had a King sized bed all to herself. Do you know how big a King sized bed is? Six and a quarter feet by six and a half feet. That’s more than 40 square feet of bed (I think). Either way, it’s humongous, especially to a seven year old. She would let me stay up to watch the midnight horror movie on Channel 56. When the movie was over she’d say “Ok babe, sweet dreams. If you get up early, be quiet, your old grandmother needs her sleep”. Then she’d shut the light and I’d lay there perfectly still wondering what method the killer would use when he arrived and how the hell I would keep quiet through the whole thing. She had make shift black out shades too, so sometimes I’d end up lying there until close to noon waiting for my eminent dismemberment.
The stereotypical grandmother likes to bake cookies and cakes and tell you how amazing you are at everything. Mine would make kielbasa and drink a stiff whiskey sour and talk about herself. Even her heyday had a sour edge. “I had such a crush on that Charlie McCarthy but I never let on. Then one day he asked me out. I couldn’t believe it. Then, we get out, we’re on a double date and he’s drinking beer and I wanted whiskey. Well that cheap bastard made such a big stink that that whiskey was more than that beer. Do you know I never went out with a Mick again? Don’t ever get married, Kendra. Find someone who likes you more than you like them. That’s the best you can hope for. Listen to your old grandmother.”
Words of wisdom from a Lithuanian grandmother.
Once I had an apartment in Southie that had a yard with plastic furniture. Gami was sitting in a plastic chair dressed to the nines with her purse on her lap waiting to be taken to Easter brunch. She went to get up and fell backwards in the lawn chair right into the bushes with her legs up in the air. I hid in the apartment crying laughing.
That’s the hardest she ever made me laugh.
When she had a physical mishap.
Thanks for listening!
Kendra is a stand up comic living in Brooklyn where she owns a super comfortable bed. She spends most of her time wondering where the hell her sugar daddy is and hoping he didn’t settle.