Poor Granny

“I put the cinnamon in the spice rack.”

“Granny,” Shannon sighed with exasperation, “it’s not here. You know how much I like to snack on cinnamon toast.

“Yep. Just as much as me. The ball doesn’t bounce too high.”

“What? I’m not even going there.” Shannon turned from her grandmother eating her cinnamon toast to pull the butter out of the fridge. “What the . . .? What’s the cinnamon doing in the fridge? Granny! You put the cinnamon in the fridge!”

“No. I’m sure I wouldn’t do that. I know where the cinnamon gets put.”

“I know Curt didn’t do it. He never puts anything away. And lil Curt doesn’t like cinnamon toast.” Shannon’s blood pressure went up a few notches. It wasn’t so much the cinnamon in the fridge, it was that this was another red flag signaling her grandmother’s mental decline. She took a deep breath. She didn’t like to go off on her grandmother, but little things were pilling up. Leaving the back door open so the cat could get out. Kicking over the dog’s water dish and not wiping it up. Ordering weird items on the internet that she had to return for her. Shannon was seriously thinking of taking away her credit card. Oh, and getting the mail when she and Curt were at work, and then putting it somewhere.

Shannon held the cinnamon tightly, turned toward the dining room and sat down at the table.

“Don’t cha want any toast anymore?”

“Granny, you know I love you.”

Ruby Rose Renard Mathias, known to the family as ‘Granny’, sat across from her. “Where did that come from?”

“I don’t say that often enough.”

“Oh no, you said it different.”

“It’s nothing.” Shannon rose and placed the cinnamon on the spice rack. “What would you like for dinner?” Her stomach churned a bit, but she smiled as she turned. “You know, why don’t we go out to dinner. We haven’t done that in awhile.” Oh, my lord, why did I say that? Cripes! Granny the Great Embarrasser. Oh well.

“Let me go tell Curt.”

Shannon left Granny sitting in the dining room staring out the sliding glass doors.

“Curt, we’re going out to dinner.”

“Do we have to? Why don’t you and Granny take lil Curt. I’ll stay home and catch up on my email. You can bring something back for me.”

Shannon laid down on the bed beside Curt. She closed the laptop, leaned over and kissed Curt on the cheek. “Please.”

Curt laughed, then kissed her on the lips. “You silver tongued devil, you.” He kissed her again, then opened his laptop. “Lemme know when. And where. I’ll drive the SUV, room for all of us.”

When Shannon returned to the dining room, she saw Granny still sitting quietly watching a peacock cross the back yard as though he owned it. Until Jellybean, their Husky/Shepherd dog ran after it.

Granny stood up and rushed to the glass doors, “Hey, Jellybean stop chasin’ the peacocks.”

Shannon laughed. “He’ll never catch one, but that doesn’t stop him from trying. And the peacocks know they can fly up to the fence or the roof. They’re not afraid of Jellybean.”

“Well, I don’t like him scaring the poor little birds.”

“They’re not so little, Granny. I looked up peacocks on Google. They weigh about 25 pounds.”

“Hmmm. Does Google talk about how scared they are when a big dog chases them?”

“Nobody knows whether peacocks get scared, they’re just animals.”

“Animals with brains, hormones, all that stuff that lets ‘em think. If they think, then they have emotions. I’m sure a peacock is happy when he finds a peahen! So, if they can be happy, they can be sad, they can be scared. And when Jellybean runs after them, I’m going to yell at him. It’s just not right.”

Changing the subject, “Where would you like to go to dinner tonight? How about Denny’s?”

“No, not Denny’s. I know. Let’s go to Red Lobster. I love their biscuits. And you can have as many as you want.”

“Oh boy. Don’t you remember the last time we went there. You embarrassed us. You flirted with the waiter non-stop.”

“Well, he was cute.”

“And too young for you.”

“I’ll be the judge of that, lil missy.” Granny chuckled, rose and headed for the stairs. “I’m going to change into my sun-dress.”

“You look fine in your jeans and t-shirt.”

“Can’t hear you. Have to recharge my hearing buds.”

*   *   *   *   *

They walked into the restaurant single file. Granny first, then Shannon holding lil Curt, then Curt, a scowl plastered on his face. A waitress, thank God, took their order. Shannon noticed Granny scanning the room. “What are you looking for?

“Not lookin’ for anything. Lookin’ at the men in the room.”

“Oh, Granny. Please don’t embarrass us. You’re too old to be looking at men.”

“I’ll be in my grave before I stop looking at men. Women too. I happen to enjoy looking at beauty and the human form is part of that beauty. Just ‘cause I’m widowed and old–but not that old–doesn’t mean I have to stop livin’.

The dinner went without a hitch, if one doesn’t count the fact that Ruby Rose kept asking for more biscuits, then putting them in a zip-lock bag she had brought, then hiding the bag in her capacious purse. It seemed that Ruby Rose had thought it out way before leaving the house. Luckily, when they left, no one stopped her at the door.

The evening was filled with tv, Shannon in the rec room, Ruby Rose in her bedroom.

*   *   *   *   *

When Shannon arose the next morning, she found Granny sitting at the breakfast bar reading a novel. “Good mornings,” passed between them. Silence followed as Shannon fed lil Curt some Cream of Wheat and fixed eggs and toast for herself and Curt. She and Curt ate in uncomfortable silence before Curt left for the office.

When Shannon returned to the kitchen looking for lil Curt’s current favorite stuffy, Bunny Blue, Granny was no where to be seen. She hadn’t gone out the front door, she and Curt would have noticed. Maybe she had gone back to her bedroom, but then she had been dressed, so why would she?

As Shannon turned to take lil Curt to his room in order to dress him for his stint at day care, Granny came into the kitchen from the garage. “What were you doing in the garage?”

“What do you care?” Ruby Rose closed the garage door by bumping it with her rear end. She walked to the breakfast bar, accidentally hitting the base with her shoe. “Are you going out today?”

“Yes. Did you just kick the breakfast bar?”

“Not on purpose. Where are you going? Will you be gone long?”

 “Why are you so inquisitive today?”

 “No reason.”

 “Well, it so happens that a college friend is in town and we’re going out to lunch. The plan is, after lunch, I’ll pick up lil Curt at three at daycare, and pick up something for dinner. I’ll be home between four and five.”

 “Perfect. When the sun sizzles into the Pacific.” Ruby Rose rose up from leaning on the bar and moved toward the stairs. Her right shoulder knocked into the door jamb.”

 “Are you all right? Are you dizzy? Do you feel faint?”

 “I’m fine. The door jamb bumped into me.” She continued up the stairs and out of sight.

Shannon put lil Curt down on the floor and pulled out her cell phone. “Hi. Curt we need to talk when you come home tonight. I know you love my Granny too, but maybe we should, at least, talk about a home for her. She’s bumping into things and saying weird things.” Pause. “I know those are tiny things, but we should still talk about it. You know, so we’re not pushed into something later without any research.” Pause. “Okay. Saturday. We’ll talk about it Saturday. I can wait one more day.” Pause. “Yes, I know you’re busy, I’ll see you tonight. Love you.”

Ruby Rose came down the stairs carrying her cowboy hat. “Oh, Shannon. I thought you had left already.”

“No. Lil Curt spit up so I had to change his clothes.”       

“He spits up as much as Old Faithful.”

“Oh, I don’t think so. So, why the cowboy hat?”

“Umm, it’s sunny out.”

“Yes . . .”

“Thought I’d sit in the back yard with Jellybean.”

“Good idea. Don’t stay out too long. You don’t want a sunburn.”

“Don’t you worry ‘bout me. I know how to take care of myself.”

Shannon picked up lil Curt and walked to the door. She turned, worry showing in her eyes. “See you at four.”

“Uh huh.”

Ruby Rose went to the front window and watched as Shannon drove away. “Thought she’d never leave.” She picked up her purse, put on her cowboy hat and exited, checking that the door was locked. She only had to wait two minutes before her Uber ride pulled up to the curb.

She was nervous but excited as her ride stopped in the parking lot at Arcadia Park. “Thank you, young man. You’ll be here at three-thirty?”

“Yes ma’am. On the dot.”

“Okay, I’ll count on it.” As the nice young man drove off she turned to look at the park. Before she could even enter the space for lawn bowling, an older couple left their car and stopped by Ruby Rose.

“Are you here to play?” the man smiled and tipped his head.

“I’ve never done any lawn bowling before, but I’m willing to try it out.”

The woman took Ruby Rose’s hand, leading her to the bench overlooking the playing field. “Just like a man. No introductions. Oh, well, he can’t remember names anymore, anyway. I’m Helen and my husband’s name is Robert. Everyone calls him Bob.” She paused, waiting for a response.

“Oh, I’m Ruby Rose.”

Bob had moved away and was talking with two other men on the side of the playing area. Helen took Ruby Rose’s arm and walked her over to three women sitting on a bench. “This is Ruby Rose. She’s here to play with us. Isn’t that just grand?” She introduced the women who smiled at Ruby Rose and seemed genuinely happy to include her in their sport.

After an hour of play, Ruby Rose had to sit down. Helen sat next to her. “Do you not like lawn bowling?”

“Yes. Matter of fact, I do. A lot. It’s just that I’m out of condition. Haven’t been doin’ a lot of exercising except walkin’ from room to room.”

“Do you live alone?


“Uhh, if you don’t want to talk about it, it’s okay.”

“Oh, I’m sorry. Just that I’m miffed at my granddaughter.”

“Do you want to talk about it. I’m a good listener.” Helen turned toward Ruby Rose.

“Shannon, that’s my granddaughter, thinks I’m going soft in the head. I think she’s thinking of putting me in a home. I no more belong in a home than their thirteen month old.”

“I declare! Well, Ruby Rose, you got here just fine. You remember the lawn bowling rules. You’re talking like your head is still screwed on straight. Where did she get the idea that you belonged in a home?”

“She said some things to me this morning.”


“She said I left the door open and let the cat out into the backyard. She said I kicked the dog’s water dish and didn’t mop it up. She said I said crazy things and was buying crazy things on the internet. She said I was bumping into doors and kicking the breakfast bar.”

“My, my.” Helen dropped her voice to a whisper so the other women couldn’t hear. “And did you . . . do those things.”


“But, uhh . . .”

“Okay, Helen, hear me out. Letting the cat out? Actually, I opened the door for Jellybean, that’s the dog, to go out and pee in the back yard. That little sneak of a cat, Apollo, ran lickety-split out before I could shut the door. I never kicked the dog’s water bowl. Jellybean likes to stick his paw in the water. He probably knocked it over. I didn’t even know when he did it. As to the crazy things I say. Yeah, I say crazy things, they’re called sarcasm, metaphor, or simile. Shannon’s not great on the rules of English grammar.”

Helen laughed. “I know what you mean. I love Bob dearly, but he can’t spell worth a damn. He reads the paper and considers himself an intellectual.”

Ruby Rose and Helen glanced at each other and started laughing again. Ruby Rose had to dab her eyes with a tissue and take a deep breath before she could continue.

Helen reached out and placed a hand on Ruby Rose’s. “Have you bought crazy or stupid things on the internet? By the way, you should teach me how to use the internet to buy things. I only know how to read and respond to emails.”

“Okay. I’m going to ask you a personal question. Okay. I mean you don’t know me or anything.”

“Ruby Rose, I feel like we’re going to be best friends. I felt a connection when I first saw you. Go ahead ask away.”

“Hmmm. Okay. Do you and Robert, Bob, have a good sex life.”

Helen laughed once again. “Of course. Not as often as when we were forty, but sure. We both enjoy . . . intimacy. But afterwards we have to get into the hot tub to soothe our muscles.”

Both women shared laughs. Two women from the lawn bowling club started to come over, obviously wondered what was so funny. Helen lifted her hand, causing them to stop.

Helen sat, silently waiting for the reason to Ruby Rose’s question.

“I bought a dildo. I don’t have a ‘Bob’ to pleasure me, so I decided to try something new in the pleasuring department. Shannon intercepted the package while I was taking a nap. The label gave it away, “The Pleasure Dome”. So of course, she thought it was crazy that an eighty year old would ever purposefully buy such a product. She put it down to me being crazy and sent it back.”

More laughter followed. “Yes, I’ve got my ‘Bob’, and I love him dearly, but I also have a dildo and lubricating oil in my bed-stand. So, off hand, I’d say that wasn’t crazy at all.”

They sat in silence for a few moments. Then Helen spoke up, “But maybe Shannon should be concerned about you bumping into things. That might be a signal for something wrong in your brain. Maybe you need a vitamin, or something. Something a doctor should be looking at.”

This time, when Ruby Rose laughed, snot ran from her nose and she doubled over to hide it in her tissue. Tears ran down her face.

Helen looked perplexed. “Really. Maybe you should see a doctor.”

“Helen, Helen, Helen. I get so f-ing bored at the house. Curt’s at work. Shannon goes out to lunch with friends or goes shopping. The baby’s at daycare. I have nothin’ to do. Do you ever watch day-time tv? It sucks. I’ve watched all the movies and tv series that I care to. I love to read, but not for eight to ten hours. So, I make little trips out to the garage. There’s an extra refrigerator out there for sodas, beers, for overflow groceries. Well, lately, I’ve been taking an Uber down to my local Vendome and buying a few bottles of vodka. I keep a bottle in the outside freezer compartment–whenever Shannon wants something from it, I say, ‘I’ll get it’. I go out. I take a swig. Or three. I’ll admit, sometimes Shannon needs a few items from the fridge and she only remembers when she needs it in cooking. So, sometimes I make several trips to the garage. Then maybe, I might knock into a few door jambs passin’ through.”

Helen looked deep into Ruby Rose’s eyes. “You’re all right girl. You’re all right. You have to tell your granddaughter everything you’ve told me. And you have to join our lawn bowling club. We’re practicing real hard for the next three weeks. There’s a tournament then in San Diego.”

“You know, I will join. It sounds like fun. A tournament, you say? Something to look forward to. Something to work toward. Yes. I’m joining the lawn bowling club.”

“The Arcadia Actors.”


“That’s the name of our club. Started with two actors, and we’ve kept the name. It’s a non-profit, so there are dues, but not much.”

“I like it. Where do I sign up?”

“Why don’t you come out to dinner tonight with me and Bob? You’ll get signed up and we can answer the questions that are bubbling up in your brain . . . I do have a question for you.”

“Sure. What?”

“You drink pure vodka? Just vodka? And from the freezer? Bob and I are wine drinkers, I don’t know much about vodka.”

“Okay. First of all, any liquor–except wine, which I don’t consider liquor–is better from the freezer. It’s a lot more . . . mellow. Secondly, straight vodka, even from the freezer, isn’t so hot. I drink peach or chocolate vodka.”

“What? I’ve seen those flavored vodkas in the grocery store, but never knew anyone who actually drank them.”

Ruby Rose smiled. “I’m a chocoholic. I needed liquor to cut the boredom. I discovered chocolate vodka.”

Helen smiled, too. “I do love my chocolate. And maybe I’m not adverse to trying vodka. Sounds interesting. How about this. I’ll try your chocolate vodka and you can tell your granddaughter what you told me.”

“You’ll like the chocolate vodka.”


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