Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Difficult: Four About My Grandfather


This weekend at my cousin's graduation party my grandfather tried to explain where he got another of my cousin's nicknames from. He calls her "Schwartzy"--short for Schwarzenegger because, apparently, he had predicted that she will marry someone with a very long name.

"You can predict who we're going to marry, huh?" I asked.

"Oh yes," he said.

"Okay," I said. "Go ahead. Who am I going to marry?"

He closed his eyes and rubbed his forehead. "A monkey," he said.

"A monkey?"

"Bozo the Baboon," he said. "You're going to marry Bozo the Baboon."


At the same party, my aunt told us this story:

One day after work she picked up my grandfather after work and took him to dinner. At dinner, he was unable to concentrate on his food because he was too distracted by the girl--"She couldn't have been more than fourteen," my aunt said. "I swear!"--who was leaning over into the cooler to scoop ice cream.

"That's right," my grandfather muttered under his breath. "Keep leaning. Keep going. Farther over. Oh yeah, that's good. That's right."

Later, after dinner, he mentioned he'd recently seen a nice Jeep for sale over on the Indian reservation and he was wondering if my aunt might take him over there. She said fine, she'd take him. She was tired and she hadn't yet been home that day, but she wanted to make the old man happy--she hasn't been around him all her life, considering she married my uncle maybe only 10 years ago, and she hasn't hit her limit yet--so she asked him if he was certain he knew the way to where they were going because she didn't.

He said sure.

He lied.

He got them lost.

She stopped for directions, and the man in the gas station said it would take another forty minutes to get where they needed to go. Still, she took him.

When they arrived at the reservation, my grandfather found the Jeep he was interested in--why? Because he wants one, but only to use in the field; he swears only the field (yeah right)--and he toddled over to it and started touching it.

"There's not a for sale sign on it," my aunt said. "You're sure it's for sale?"

"No," my grandfather said. "I guess I was wrong. I guess it's just someone's Jeep."

And then he tried to lift the hood to look at the engine.


He wants a Jeep. He wants wheels bad. But he has had a stroke. His vision is iffy. His doctor wrote a letter that revoked his license. Still, still, still, that man swears he is fine, he is good, he can drive, he wants something he can pilot. He says he's in the market for a Jeep, as if we could forget the three flat-tired ones that have sunk into the ground behind his house. These are the Jeeps he drove near the end of his career as a driver, and each is busted in a unique way from his string of "minor accidents." He routinely drove into the picnic bench outside his favorite diner. He routinely clipped passing mail trucks or concrete mixers or Mazdas.

And if no one is willing to get him a Jeep, he's ready to compromise. He'll take a motorized bike.

"That way," he says, "if I have an accident, I'll only end up killing myself."


"You know," my mother said at the family party, "when people at work ask me to describe my father, I just say, 'He's difficult.'"


Kristin said...

Oh how I love blog posts about your grandfather!

Jess said...

Yeah, he's a pip, isn't he? A real pip.