The year was 1985 and my then boyfriend/now husband and I traveled a route familiar to me since youth, the four and a half hour drive from
North Carolina to . Through fields of cotton and soybeans, past disintegrating tobacco shacks, abandoned gas stations, and rusting farm equipment to the smoke-stacked freeway maze that was Richmond, across the Potomac in view of the Capitol, until we reached the beltway, Dulaney Valley Road, and the turnoff on Southerly to get to Gramma’s apartment. Even though it was November in Maryland , David arrived sans shirt, wearing a slight pair of white shorts and sneakers. And he was in shape, the physical condition that arrives with jumping from air planes, running triathlons, and dating someone like me. Towson
After greetings were exchanged, suitcases stowed, and no less than five minutes had elapsed, we had cocktails in hand, de riguer for visits with Gramma. Honestly, I think we all stayed slightly buzzed during each visit. In between CC & water one and two, we discussed visiting Hunna, Gramma’s best friend since early youth. I was eager to see her again as she was an honorary great aunt to me and, of course, I wanted David to meet her as well. Gramma disappeared into the bedroom to call Hunna whereupon I immediately overheard her loudly and excitedly declare, “Hunna, you should see his chest!”
Plans made, we got ready to walk the half block to Hunna’s apartment. Gramma turned to me and demanded, “He IS going to put a shirt on, isn’t he?” And he did, though I half-thought she’d have him remove it again once we got to Hunna’s to preen and show off for her.
Hours later, we were all “in the sauce”, having a wonderful time, laughing and carrying on, getting drunk and disorderly. Though the Jolly Girls could have kept going and, admittedly, were drinking us more than one for one and could easily have left us under a table while they continued their rabble-rousing, David and I decided to walk to a local bar and bid the ladies good night. The evening ended up with me chucking a tennis ball hard to David’s testicles but that’s another story for another day. The main point of the evening and a revelation to David, “I didn’t know old people could be so much fun!”
My grandmother Helen was indeed fun. And hard-working and disciplined. And a wonderful cook and exceptional housekeeper. Yet, her one characteristic that everyone remarked on was her outspokenness, sometimes to a fault and oftentimes to its recipients’ embarrassment. In fact, the morning after David’s realization that the elderly could, in fact, be entertaining, she asked me, her granddaughter that she had played hours of Uncle Wiggly and gin rummy with, whom she had made untold pints of homemade applesauce for, for whom she had knitted countless sweaters, “Are you and he lovers? Because it sure seems like it.”
But that was Gramma and I loved her for it. To this day, when I let my own innate outspokenness show itself more than I should, I am accused of “letting Helen out”. With this new blog, I will do my best to do just that, concentrating on matters culinary and hedonistic but diverging to rambling paths as I choose. It is my blog after all. I hope you will enjoy its future as I do my best to entertain and to Channel Helen.
BTW, to answer her question, yes we were and it was damned good. And we will be married 24 years come next May. I think Gramma would be pleased.