Grandparents Gone Wild

I looked at my computer this morning.  It was rife with tons of delicious new posts from many of my favorite bloggers.  The only difficult challenge was going to be figuring out who to read first.  So many authors, such unique points of view!  Before I could make a decision on which author would get me started, I caught a glimpse of a strange looking woman on my screen.  She bore something of a resemblance to Al Jolson in blackface wearing a blonde wig.  Apparently the woman had been arrested after taking her 5 year old daughter into a tanning salon with her.

I knew in my heart that I should have been reading the latest literary artistry of the Byronic Man, or looking to see if The Paltry Meanderings of a Taller Than Average Woman had posted part 2 of her hysterical description of the yoga experience.  Yet here I was scanning this sordid bit of scandal sheet fluff for gory details.  Of course, it was devoid of much information beyond the unbelievable headline and comical photo.

Before I could get back on track to read the blogs, I was transfixed by the horrific story of the hang gliding accident where a young woman fell nearly 1000 feet to her death.  Upon landing, the pilot ate the memory card from the on-glider camera!  As tragic and unreal as the story was, until the laxatives take effect, there’s not much more to report.   I knew that up-and-comer Shut Up Dad would be writing again soon and I really should start my day with a laugh and a sarcastic comment.  Dotty the Headbanger is always good for a bizarre taste of her mental corner of the UK.

Despite my best intentions, I was grabbed by yet another outrageous headline.  After picking up my jaw off the counter, I glanced at the clock and realized with a start that I was running late for work.  Muttering to myself, I grabbed my lunch and headed out of the house.  Instead of starting my day with the humor and creativity of k8edid, I had read a story which gnawed at me like a caraway seed lodged between my molars all day.

(Photo from The Smoking Gun)

Apparently, a pair of grandparents, ages 47 and 49, were accused of drinking, driving and towing their 7 year old grand daughter down the street in a Barbi Ferrari at speeds of 5 to 10 milers per hour.  They had tied a couple of dog leashes to the toy car and the other end to the trailer hitch on their SUV.  They were arrested and charged with a variety of offenses.  When the police contacted the little girl’s father, he showed up and was verbally abusive to his drunk mother.  As if this story wasn’t disturbing enough, the son had disrespected the woman who brought him into this world!

Instead of spending my carefree morning chuckling to myself over the quirky musings of some of my favorite writers, I was stuck thinking about “Grandparents Gone Wild”.

I tried to wrap my head around it.  Drunk grandparents – towing their precious 7 year old grand daughter without so much as a knee pad or a helmet.  It was nearly impossible to really grasp it.

Maybe part of the difficulty I had was due to my family history.  I couldn’t help but recall my own grandparents, with great fondness and nostalgia.

My Dad’s parents did some driving, especially my grandfather, who drove countless miles across the midwest as a salesman.  His wife, a petite, elegant woman, drove far less, and usually required some sort of extra cushion beneath her to see over the steering wheel in her cat-eye glasses, pumps and stylish dress.  We lived on the east coast and didn’t get to see them as often as we liked, but they would always share the love when we did.  My Gram made wonderful chocolate chip cookies and my Grandaddy would always slip my brothers and me each a 10 dollar bill at some point during their visits.  He had incredible stories which I believed to be factual, despite the time honored family tradition of being bullshitters.  In retrospect, the key seemed to be to weave the far-fetched ones in with actual family history.  We all loved Grandaddy’s stories, partly because of the stories themselves, but just as much because of the way he told them.   For all the miles he drove, I’m pretty sure he never towed any of us behind him.

My Mom’s parents were quite different.  That grandfather was a quiet man.  He’d had many jobs, all of them requiring hard work and long hours.  He’d been working since he’d been twelve or possibly younger.  Grandpa was not the type to talk about his life or how many years he’d worked;  I had to get that information from my mom and Nanny.  Nanny was the outspoken, extrovert of that couple.  Grandpa enjoyed a well made, dry martini.  Just one, savored with a cigar and The Asbury Park Press.  He knew a little bit about how a well made martini should be made, as he had tended bar for years at the Elks Club in Red Bank, New Jersey.  He understood drinking too;  he partook of spirits in an almost  reverential way.  I never saw him have more than one martini, and I certainly never saw him drunk.  My grandmother preferred a Jack Rose, an old-timey drink which included Apple Jack and sour mix.  She too, never had more than one.  Her vice of choice was not alcohol, but sundaes with some of the most improbable combinations of ice cream flavors, syrups, toppings and fruit.  I won’t describe them further, as her taste in sundaes is worthy of an entire post of its own.

I don’t remember seeing any of my grandparents intoxicated.  Not even tipsy.  They drove for work and to get their errands done.  To get from one place to another.  Throughout my childhood, young adult years and beyond, they’ve been a presence for me.  I’m not always aware of the strength I draw from them, or how their presence continues long after their passing, but today I’m feeling connected as I recall each of them.

I’m not entirely sure what kind of grandfather I appear to be to my own grand daughters, but I hope they feel the love when they think of me decades from now.  I’ve been pretty lucky to have many good examples of grandparenting around me, including my in-laws and my own parents.  A couple of weeks ago, my oldest grand daughter and I surprised my wife by putting a birdhouse up outside the window where she often sits with the girls.  I wasn’t shooting to make a memory, but I might have anyway.

None of this really relates to the folks in the SUV in Florida.  Essentially, I had squandered a morning’s readings of some very creative ladies and gentlemen to be lured by the garish headlines of idiotic behavior.  It might have been a total loss, had I not jogged my memories of those four grandparents of my own.

It’s a shame what passes for grandparents in some quarters these days.

24 responses

    • It’s funny, I had not intended for the post to go in that direction whatsoever, but once it did, I couldn’t bring myself to go back and screw around with it. I try to keep things light and humorous, but sometimes when I’m not careful, things can get a little sentimental. Glad you liked it – hope you stick with me for some more of my usual cynical stuff.

    • Thanks…as I noted elsewhere, I didn’t set out to write the post that way, but I was powerless to stop the sentimental aspects of it once they ended up on the page. I’m hope it didn’t come across as self-indulgent or preachy – I abhor preachy blog posts.

      I’m glad you liked it.

  1. Well after reading about the walking/talking blonde beef jerky and these “grand parents” I was more than happy to learn about your grand parents. I never had grand parents of my own, so hearing about your experiences, brings me joy.

  2. Oh that was wonderful – I have all of the same memories. People still don’t believe me when I tell them I only saw my grandmother in a pair of pants once in my life and I’m sure that was only because she might have had some difficulty doing her gardening chores in a skirt, hose, and pumps. And of course Grandaddy almost always “dressed” for dinner. Thanks for that – I’m sure I will find myself reminiscing about Gram and Grandaddy today….

  3. Nice work. A turn of the screw… It’s like when some fiction writers describe the characters taking over the story–same thing here. Oh, and the tanorexic lady looks like a Johnsonville brat that fell into the bottom of the grill.

  4. Yes, that tanned mother was just lovely, wasn’t she? By the time SHE’S a grandmother, her skin will be beef jerky. Is really sad.

    I only wish we knew to appreciate our grandparents more when we were young. Sure we loved them and were excited to see them, but I don’t think the true appreciation of their characters and who they were came until we got older (at least for me, anyway). I suppose that’s with everything, but how I would love to be able to go back in time and spend just one more day with my grandmother. Nice post!

  5. First, thanks for the lovely shout out! Fortunately for you, Part II of my yoga experience won’t be published until Monday morning, so you didn’t miss anything. But that was sheer luck. Don’t let it happen again.

    You were so lucky to grow up with sober grandparents. My childhood was a bit of two extremes: one set of teetotalers on one side and two liquor-swilling alcoholics on the other. It took years to understand why my drunken grandparents always sipped their “water” or “tea” out of such short glasses, while the rest of us used tall ones.

    Though I was never towed by an SUV – an old Buick, perhaps – my lushy grandparents endangered my life on a daily basis when I visited by cooking everything in bacon grease. Eggs, steak, cupcakes…you name it. All cooked in pig fat. If it couldn’t be fried, they slapped the fat on top of it, one way or another. That white glaze drizzled over the angel food cake wasn’t icing…nope, it was bacon fat. With sugar added. The wet, brownish stain smeared on your toast…not butter. Not margarine. Nope, bacon grease with cinnamon sugar sprinkled on top.

    Thank goodness I only visited a couple times a year or I would have died of coronary artery disease by the age of 12.

    P.S. I can’t believe you are a grandfather! Did you spawn while you were still in utero?

    • Good call on my youthful grandparentness. I did in fact run with a rather fast crowd in the 5th and 6th grades, and apparently, so did one of my own children.
      The bacon grease as a topping/condiment/main course sounds like a few of my home care patients. You can always tell them, since they have a jar/can in the center of the stove to pour the drippings in when they cook bacon.
      In other news…I can’t wait to see part deux of the yoga files.

  6. Well, obviously, none of your grandparents lacked basic common sense. I have a feeling the drunks dragging their granddaughter probably didn’t need alcohol to something so stupid! Great post, thanks.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s