My grandmother was the type of person that people talked to about everything. Standing in line at the bank or grocery store, perfect strangers felt the need to share their life stories. I couldn’t pinpoint a reason why. Maybe it was her dimples, or perhaps her five-foot-half-an-inch stature was not intimidating. But this happened over and over during the course of her too-short life. It seems, height and dimples aside, I’ve become my grandmother.
It started in about 1996 when FKGuy and I were on vacation in Key West. We meandered around town, and found ourselves at Captain Tony’s, drinking beer and playing pool. The game of pool is not one of my strengths (I can never figure out why I have to plan ahead where those balls are going.) We waited for a table and finally ended up playing against two guys, one of whom was in the same billiards-playing mindset that I was.
After a while, I found myself sitting on bar stool not-so-patiently waiting my turn, and talking to the less-than-interested-in-the-game guy. After a few minutes of small talk, he starts telling me about his recent breakup with his girlfriend, and how she kept the dog. We let the other two take our turns in the game as we plotted out a strategy for his next steps.
I was twenty-three years old. I should have turned to writing an advice column. That would have been a good career move.
Recently, I relayed to my mother a tale of encouraging a perfect stranger to break up with her boyfriend. Listen, anyone that goes on vacation and let’s their significant other sit at a bar by herself, on her birthday, because he simply can’t be bothered to go out with her, is not worthy. I should also note that the bar was in her hotel. He could have made the effort to walk twenty feet and share a cocktail with her. A relationship cannot exist happily if people do not treat their significant others as significant.
We talked for nearly an hour, and the next day I got a text message that she was headed home a single woman. Good for her! Like I said at the bar, she deserves someone who treats her like a priority. It should not be debatable.
My grandmother was kind and a good listener, and she was always up for a good laugh. When I was nine years old, I traveled with my parents, grandparents, and great aunt and uncle to California for a vacation. During our layover in Atlanta, I had to pee. So, my grandmother took me by one arm, my great aunt by the other, and the three of us marched, Laverne and Shirley style, right into the bathroom. Picture two tiny women and a nine-year-old, all giggling. As I exited the stall, we may have noticed a man zipping up his pants. Oops. We were in the men’s room. I still talk about that.
This has led to a lifetime of ignoring gender labels on bathrooms (I am so ahead of my time). Hey, if it is a single stall situation, why not? I will admit to, on occasion, waiting in the shorter line regardless of the stated gender. (One time, at the REM concert at Nassau Coliseum, while wearing fake fur leopard print short shorts. Subtlety is not my strength.) I’m certain my grandmother would have been mortified by the whole situation.
If you feel the need to share your own drama, and receive unsolicited (but usually helpful) advice in return, I’m frequently found at either The Orchid Bar or one of the wine bars in town.