Dear Adam Powers:
So let me tell you about my Grandma.
She’s so friggin cute. She’s 4’10”, hasn’t driven a day in her life, doesn’t own any pants, thinks “pregnant” is a cuss, and she uses that weird old lady loose powder all the time, the kind with the big ol’ puff. She’s the sweetest lady you will ever meet. That’s her, up there in the picture. My friend Sean and I were trying to get her to understand the working of the MacBook built-in Webcam. We failed. Keep in mind that this is a lady who once called me and asked what “Dotcom” meant. She kept hearing it at the end of all her commercials. Where to even start?
Her sister, my 91-year-old Aunt Tee, is also 4’10” and she hates everything. She’s miserable. She’s very nice, just miserable. She sits around all day looking for things to complain about. If her alarm clock breaks, then that surely means that all of Casio is plotting against her. She once ran out of things to be pissed about, so she started telling everybody she hated trees for stealing all our oxygen. She’s the great-aunt who always put exactly $3 in an envelope for each of us at Christmastime, which is like leaving a penny for a tip. My Grandma and her sister are creatively referred to by my family as The Old Ladies.
SInce the Old Ladies’ husbands are both dead, my mom and her two sisters had to divvy up The Old Lady Chores. Aunt Melody takes them to the beauty parlor on Fridays. Aunt Laurie takes The Old Ladies to Church and Lunch on Sundays. My mom takes The Old Ladies grocery shopping on Thursdays (an enormous feat, since both the Old Ladies are senile and almost blind and can most often be found on the canned goods aisle with their faces pressed up against cans of field peas, trying in vain to read the ingredients. The. Ingredients. Are. Field. Peas. Jeeezus.)
So now that my mom lives in Raleigh, my aunts are solely responsible for The Old Ladies. Aunt Laurie had possession of them this past Sunday, which was my Grandma’s 87th birthday. Grandma was THRILLED her birthday fell on The Lord’s Day.
Aunt Laurie took them to the bakery so she could pick up Grandma’s birthday cake. She parks and cracks each of The Old Ladies’ windows an inch and tells them to stay in the car. The bakery is crowded and it would be WAY unnecessary for the Old Ladies to go inside. Plus, they can survive the heat in the car because neither one of them can read the thermostat in their houses, and they both live alone (somehow), so they never use the AC.
So my aunt gets through the line at the bakery, and, true to form for Louisiana weather, the sunnyshine has mutated into a thunderstorm over the course of twenty minutes. My aunt runs through the rain to the passenger side door in order to put the cake on the floor by Grandma’s feet.
Only Aunt Laurie can’t open the passenger side door. And why?
Because Grandma has decided it would be a great idea to OPEN HER UMBRELLA inside my aunt’s Honda Civic. Now she can’t close the umbrella, the corner of which is wedged into the one inch crack in the window, so my aunt can’t open the door.
My grandma thinks she is being rained on. She’s not. And Tee, who is in the back seat, is leaning forward with her bad hip all twisted, trying to huddle underneath the umbrella, all the while complaining that the rain might get in through the crack in the window.
So my aunt runs to the driver’s side door in exasperation, gets in, and peals out of the parking lot with the cake in her lap. She is speechless, but feels like she needs to say SOMETHING.
So after a few minutes of silence, she finds something vaguely suitable.
“Mom. You know it’s bad luck to open an umbrella indoors.”
The Old Ladies say nothing. Grandma probably didn’t even hear her, and Tee just doesn’t have a biting retort cooked up yet. But then Tee finds one, and sort of timidly says, “You know Laurie, it’s Unchristian to be superstitious.” She is satisfied with this response, and sits back with a self-satisfied smile, mired in negativity.
My Grandma hears this, and wants to participate. “You know, Tee,” she says, “When we were little, Miss Edith at The Church said it was bad luck to walk underneath a ladder!”
“And it’s bad luck to sweep after midnight,” Tee chimes in. Apparently it is no longer Unchristian to recite superstitions.
“And you can’t take a salt shaker directly from someone’s hand,” says my Grandma. Aunt Laurie just looks at her, perplexed, because this is obviously made up. She is mixing superstitions like people mix metaphors.
“And you can’t sweep after midnight,” Tee repeats, inexplicably.
“Or break mirrors. That’s seven years,” pipes up Grandma.
Silence. Tee is flailing, frantically trying to come up with a response. She finds one.
“Or sweep after midnight,” repeats Tee, again. You don’t understand. She’s not trying to emphasize her point. She just doesn’t remember that she’s already said the thing about sweeping THREE TIMES ALREADY.
The conversations ends in abrupt communication breakdown, the Old Ladies’ list of superstitions apparently exhausted, and they finish the ride home in silence, my aunt’s neck craned to see around the umbrella covering half the windshield.
If we are still friends when I am 91, can you do me a favor and duct tape my mouth shut?
That’s all I really wanted to ask you. I just thought it may be an odd request without some sort of back story.