Monday, December 24, 2007

This Stuff Is Getting Old

I'm home. I've been running since the moment I parked my car in my father's driveway. It's been party-party-party-drink-drink-drink-shop-shop-shop-decorate-decorate-decorate. I've graded essays. I've decorated cookies and assembled stockings. I've even braved the malls.

It's been a whirlwind. And last night I was whirled over to the first family party of the season. We went over to my mother's brother's house for a holiday meal. My grandfather was there, and he was in fine grandfather form. He had a pretty substantial stroke last year, and the stroke took his eyesight, but only at first. It came back. Well, most of it came back. Since then, he's been busy pretending he can do everything he used to do. One of those things is drive. The man insists he can drive and has no problem with it, although there's plenty of evidence to the contrary.

As soon as we walked in last night, my grandfather cornered my mother and started telling her the most ridiculous-sounding lies I've ever heard. My grandfather needs to take a refresher course on the art of lying. He needs to hang around small children who are much more convincing at it than he. He built up these fanciful stories about these crazy drivers who have hit him, forced him off the road, caused him to get in accidents. Like, six accidents in the last month.

The first happened when he was getting off a freeway. My grandfather had an elaborate story about a crazy driver who was in such a hurry to beat everyone else off the ramp that he hit someone in front of him, which caused my grandfather to hit him. Then the crazy driver motioned for my grandfather to follow him to a parking lot so they could exchanged information, but he just followed my grandfather, took down his plates, and sped off. Then he charged my grandfather with a hit and run.

More plausible story? My grandfather hit this person and actually did run because he's had several accidents (and gotten several new vehicles because of this) since the stroke, and he's in danger of losing both his insurance and his license.

The second story was about a crazy drunk dump truck driver who was weaving all over the road and forced the car in front of grandpa into a ditch before he plowed into grandpa--who was now driving a rental vehicle since his car was in the shop. The crazy drunk dump truck driver scratched the hell out of the side of the vehicle and took off the rental's driver side mirror.

More plausible story? My grandfather, who lost his peripheral vision with the stroke, didn't even see the dump truck, and he was the one to hit someone and ding up the rental car.

As he told these stories, there was a lot of foul language, a lot of grumbling, a lot of Can you believe these people?! moments. It was quite an impressive show. He tried his hardest, gave his best effort, but none of us were buying it. Not for one minute.

And that's just what it's like with my grandfather: he has very little regard for the effect his actions will have on others. It's always been that way.

It was that way again last night. As he was shuffling out of the room to get his coat and leave, my grandfather stepped up onto a decorative holiday rug my aunt has in the living room. It features a Santa Claus who is really quite tan--the thread that forms his skin is more mocha-y than vanilla-y, and this disturbed my grandfather. He looked over his shoulder to see if we were all paying attention, then he smiled and gestured to the rug. "Look," he said, "it's Nigger Claus!"

I sighed. It's as if he just doesn't care, as if he hasn't learned his lesson. Of course, he doesn't think there is a lesson to learn. He is still punishing me for my audacity several Christmases ago, the year I decided I was sick and tired of him giving racist speeches at the dinner table as we spooned ham and mashed potatoes onto the holiday china. He is still trying to say, Hey, little girl, you don't know anything about anything, and I don't give a shit about how rotten I make you feel. I'll say what I want. I'll die saying those things.

As my grandfather pulled himself out of the room and limped toward his coat, I reached for a large hunk of fudge and shoved it in my mouth so I wouldn't have to worry about saying anything. I was tired. I was really, really tired.

"Well," my uncle said, "that was clearly meant for you."

"I know," I said. It was touching, really. I'm so glad that's how my grandfather chooses to show his love--especially during the holiday season--by showing us all we are inferior to him, that he doesn't give a shit about our feelings, not even a little bit.


Diana said...

This is a perfect example why we have friends. And kittens.

Here's love for you, regard for your feelings, and six pounds of peanut butter. xoxoxo

Complete Stranger said...

BIG HUG! and what she said up there. Especially the peanut butter.