You know that Great Grandma and Great Grandpa I wrote about a couple weeks ago? The ones who think Dunkin’ Donuts are the salt of the earth and who would take baths in them if only they could find a way to make the donuts come out of their faucets?
I want to tell you about the very first time I met them. I had been dating my future husband for about six months when he took me to Chicago to introduce me to the family at Christmas. Most of the week was spent prepping me for how to act when I met Grandma and Grandpa. Here’s what I remember from the training session:
1. G.Grandma will make a huge bin of lasagna that she and only she is authorized to dish up. When she asks you how much you want, tell her a tiny bit. This will earn you a piece the size of a small Volkswagen. (No one’s ever asked for a big piece, and you better not be the first one to do so.)
2. G.Grandma will show you her house. Do not let your eyes linger on any one item for too long. Do not compliment any of her stuff. If you do, expect to receive it in the mail next week, wrapped in copious amounts of The Enquirer and Star magazines.
3. Expect to open a lot of gifts. A lot of gifts. What’s inside the package does not matter—it’s the quantity. It is common for one person to receive the left hand from a set of rubber gloves and another person to receive the right hand from the set of rubber gloves. One year, for example they had bought a lot of gifts for Wendy but apparently not as many for Kevin. They individually wrapped rolls of toilet paper for Keivn to even out the sides.
Finally the big day came. I felt like a boxer coming out of my corner when I entered the grandparents’ house. I was primed. I was ready. I showed her with my fingers how small of a piece of lasagna I wanted, and I smartly kept a little corner of the piece on my plate so she couldn’t ask me for seconds (and also because there wasn’t even any room left in my espohagus for that last bite). I acted equally excited about the one Ove-glove I got as the box of Exclamation perfume. I kept myself in “shifty eye mode” the entire time, especially when she showed me her room of Beanie Babies and the throw blanket with a picture of—wait, Grandma, is that Stone Cold Steve Austin on that throw blanket?!! Oh shit.
Still, I was feeling like a champion as we were packing up all the gifts to go when Grandma pulled me into the kitchen. Alone. For reasons still beyond me, no one tried to stop this from happening. In the kitchen, Grandma set two porcelain frogs on the table.
She pointed to them and said, “Now, Rachel, you’re a teacher. I’m just wondering if you know how to tell the difference between a girl frog and a boy frog?” As if this question had been bothering her for eighty years and now that she finally had a teacher in her grasp, she was going to get herself an answer.
I looked at her blankly. She got the tiniest hint of a grin on her face, turned the frogs over, and said, “Oh, I guess that’s how you tell.”
A week later I got the porcelain frogs in the mail.
And the Stone Cold Steve Austin blanket.
I am counting the days until Vincenzo gets his first girlfriend.
WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE: