I’d like to welcome up-and-comer Cyd Peak to the Friday Funny stage today. We go waaaaaay back. Unfortunately, (well, it might be fortunate for HER.) she doesn’t remember me. Her sister, Sara, and I used to hang out back in the day. You know, before the earth’s crust cooled. 😉
This excerpt tossed me back to the good old days of visits from my grandparents. My grandmother on my dad’s side was exceptionally frugal and would have recycled. Enjoy!
“Your grandparents are coming to stay for a week,” declared Mom at the breakfast table.
Dahlia, who ate Cheerios in the morning, but not toast, made a face. “We can take care of ourselves, Mom.”
“I would just feel better knowing that someone else is here keeping an eye on you girls, that’s all. Isn’t that right, Arty?”
“Yes,” said Dad, not looking up from The Wall Street Journal.
The third day that Mom was in the hospital, in the late morning, the phone rang. I ran for it. Dad was out looking at the fields, Dahlia was building a sculpture in the sandbox in the backyard, Grampa was doing his crossword puzzles in the living room, and Gramma was in the kitchen.
“Flynn residence?” I responded officiously.
“Hello? Is this Carole?”
“No, this is Hadley,” I said, and in practicing my training from Daddy: “Who’s calling please?” “Oh, hi Hadley, this is Kathy across the street. How ya doin’?”
“Fine, thank you, Kathy.”
“Well, the reason I’m calling, Hadley, is that I saw an old lady come out of your house today and go to your mailbox.”
“Oh, that’s my gramma. She and Grampa are staying with us for a little while.”
“Oh, okay…Well, um, Sherry told me, see, I didn’t really see her myself. You see, Sherry was driving by…and well her pajamas were pretty thin, if you know what I mean…”
“Oh?” I said, and not knowing what else to say, said: “I’ll tell her you called.”
“I – I just thought you’d wanna know, dear. It’s just that we’re next to a county road, and even though we’re out in the country, honey, doesn’t mean we don’t get people driving by who can see…well, anything that’s outside.”
“Sure.” I said.
“Well, then? Have a nice day, Hadley.” Kathy finished with a click.
“You too,” I said to a dead phone. I hung it up and went into the kitchen. Gramma was sitting at the table and cleaning the flyswatter with a scouring pad.
“Who was that, honey?” asked Gramma.
“Oh, it was the lady across the street. She said her daughter saw you getting the mail this morning.”
“Well, what’s the big deal about that? Ted, we must be in a small town now, my going out to get the mail is news around here!”
“Um-hmmm,” rippled Grampa from the next room.
Just then, Dahlia came in the side door directly into the kitchen. She was covered in sand, head to toe, wet sand dripping off her fingertips.
“My goodness, Dahlia, aren’t you a sight!” exclaimed Gramma with a big smile.
“What are you doing with that scouring pad, Gramma?” asked Dahlia.
“Cleaning the flyswatter, honey. I have been after those pesky flies ever since we got here on Monday!”
The phone rang again.
“You, upstairs immediately!” directed Gramma to Dahlia.
“You’ve got some nerve, letting your gramma walk around practically naked outside, in the daytime when EVERYBODY can see! What kind of Christian are you? –”
“Who was that?” called out Gramma, still in the kitchen.
“Crank call,” I said, going back to the kitchen. This time Gramma had a shoe in hand and was cleaning the mud out of the treads with the same brillo pad that she’d used to clean the flyswatter.
It hit me that Gramma was using the same brillo pad to clean her shoes and the flyswatter that we used to scrub our stained and greasy pans. I sat and watched as she continued to chatter about how wet the spring had been, and that that was why we had so many flies this summer.
“Gramma, why don’t you go lay down?” I said as gently as I could, my eyes fixed on the brillo pad, worn out from the dishes and the flyswatter and now, the bottoms of her shoes. “You’ve been working pretty hard all morning, what with all the cleaning and going out to the mailbox.”
Gramma looked at me, took a deep breath, and smiled. “You’re right, honey, I have been working hard. I will take you up on that.” She put her shoe and the brillo pad down on the table, and came over to me, and lightly tapped my cheek with the hand that had wielded the brillo pad. I tried not to wince, and went to hug her hard.
“Awww, you’re sweet, honey,” Gramma hugged me back, then let go, tapped my cheek with the same hand again, and turned to go upstairs.
As soon as I heard the steps to the second floor finish, I picked up the offending brillo pad and threw it in the trash. One shoe was on the floor, not yet scrubbed by the brillo pad. The other shoe was half-done, with the heel yet to be cleaned. I took her shoes and placed them in the mudroom next to the kitchen.
The phone rang.
“Will you get it?” bellowed Dahlia from upstairs.
“YES!” I called back, irritated that she had to be so bossy, even from upstairs.
“Hello?” I answered the phone with some trepidation, not sure who was going to be at the other end, and what moral judgments they were calling to adjudicate.
“Hi, Hadley!” Thank god it was Tiffany. “What’cha doin’?”
“Hi Tiffany! Oh, just cleaning up around the kitchen,” I said carefully, as Grampa was within earshot, and I didn’t want to betray her faux pas to him. “What’s going on?”
“Wanna play outside? Ya know, Frisbee or something?”
“Sure,” I was relieved that I didn’t have any more dumb messages to pass on. “I’ll be right over.”
I came back at 12:30, when I heard Gramma bellowing “LUNCH!” across the street, as I was playing in Tiffany’s grandma’s yard. Everyone else was sitting at the kitchen table, already eating. I smelled the air, which smelled like a restaurant.
“What’dja make, Gramma? It smells good!” I said, sitting down at my place.
“Grilled cheese sandwiches!” Gramma boomed, grinning widely, “and tomato soup! Eat up!”
I was hungry from all my running after the frisbee, so I dove in voraciously.
When I was done, I picked up my plate and took it to the sink. The frying pan from breakfast was not there anymore, I started, and looked to the stove, where it sat, freshly used from grilling the cheese sandwiches.
“Gramma you didn’t have to wash the frying pan; there’s a griddle down here,” I said, pointing to the lower cabinets.
“Why get out another pan when I can re-use one that’s already out?” Gramma replied cheerily.
I started getting a not-so good, sinking feeling in my stomach. “But you’d have to wash it first.” “And we’re out of scrubbing pads.”
“No, we’re not!” Gramma said, still smiling.
I looked back at the sink lip. There it was, worse for the wear, but still in one piece:
the very same brillo pad that I had thrown away!
I definitely felt queasy now. “Um, excuse me,” I said, and ran upstairs to the bathroom.
I just barely made it to the toilet, wasn’t even able to lift the seat before I spewed my barely digested tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwich. I heard footsteps coming, and Dahlia came into the bathroom.
“Gee whiz, what’s wrong?” she exclaimed.
“Gramma cleaned her shoes and the flyswatter with that brillo pad,” I sputtered. “And then she cleaned the frying pan with it, too!”
“Yeah, that’s what you do with frying pans once they’ve been used!” Dahlia spoke to me as if I was retarded.
“But there was only the brillo pad that she used on her shoes and flyswatter! Didn’t you notice earlier, when you came in from the sandbox?”
“Yeah, but Daddy came home while you were gone with some stuff from the store.”
I started to feel sick again, this time from stupidity. “You mean that Daddy brought back a new brillo pad?”
“Yep,” Dahlia smirked and folded her arms and leaned against the doorjamb.
“But it looked so old! Didn’t you see how used it was??
Dahlia didn’t budge from her dominant position at the doorway and started laughing. “Oh, you think that Gramma fished the old one out of the garbage and used it again?’ She shook uncontrollably, her face turning red and she was doubling over.
I continued to feel stupid, sitting there on the floor next to the toilet.
“You moron!” Dahlia sputtered in between paroxysms of laughter.
“What, what?!” I raised my voice.
Dahlia finally got control of herself, took a deep breath, and straightened up. “Well,” she said, starting out slowly. “Gramma, being Gramma, after she decided to make grilled cheese, started looking through the cabinets for the griddle. Well she never found it, but in the mean time, she “claims” that she found lots of “dirty” dishes,” Dahlia kept making finger gestures in the air for her quotes. “So what does she do but re-scrub all the pans that she didn’t think were “clean enough.”’
I was silent for a moment. “So that was a new brillo pad?”
“Yep,” Dahlia replied, trying to control the urge to burst into giggles again.
“And it just looked old because she’s been scrubbing tons of pans all morning,” I finished.
“Yes!” Dahlia couldn’t contain herself anymore and descended full-force into giggles.
“Ohhhh! I gotta go lie down!” Dahlia left the doorway still gasping with laughter.
Still sitting on the floor next to the toilet, I felt so dumb.
Copyright 2012 Cyd Peak
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