Sunday, November 14, 2010

Short Story-Forget Me Not (light hearted)

Forget-Me-Nots are my grandmother’s favorite flower. She planted a wonderful bright garden of the blue blossoms in a quiet secluded area not far from her lakeside cottage. The flowers naturalized and spread over the knoll and into the wooded area not far away. As soon as I was old enough to venture out alone, I began the regular custom of gathering the blooms for her every spring and through the early summer months. It was not a chore I minded. Each spring I waited in anticipation of seeing those cheerful little blossoms for the first time and the smile on my grandmother’s face as she arranged them in old brass teapots, canning jars and small glass vases all over her house.
            I had waited impatiently for the rain to cease that day, and at the first sign of clearing, I grabbed the basket and lightly tripped up the muddy path to the wild little garden. I tried to dodge the puddles but sometimes I just couldn’t resist jumping into the middle of one.    Quite a few people just might question the fact that I am 53 and still splashing in puddles, but I doubted my grandmother would.  Hadn’t I seen a tell tale pair of wet sneakers on the back porch just last week? No, Grandma wouldn’t mind the wet feet at all. She and I had often come back together soaking wet and laughing. I hadn’t heard her laughter for awhile.
            “Your aunt Faye says I’m getting wacky,” she told me with a sigh as we had a cup of coffee together later that morning.  “I suppose she’ll be wanting to put me in of those old fart homes soon.” I could see the worry in her blue eyes at the thought. 
“You aren’t wacky, Gran, you’re 94.” I reassured her. “At 94 you can do just about anything and get away with it.  Tell her you’re just getting eccentric in your old age.”
She snorted and said, “What do you know about it anyway?”
“What I know is that I talk to frogs so I’m certainly not going to call you wacky.” I countered. “No one else is going to make you feel that way either if I can help it.”
“You still going to those wicker meetings “ she asked. “at that convent over in Sherman?” I choked back a laugh and delicately wiped the coffee off that had squirted out of my nose.
“It’s Wiccan, Grandma and it’s a coven not a convent. And, no I haven’t been there for awhile.”
“Well, good” she said. “Those nuns can be nasty creatures. Always got their panties in a knot about something.” Gran leaned in close to me and whispered, “Watch out for those priests too. That celebracy thing they do just isn’t natural.  Men need sex, it’s that simple. Just ask your grandfather.”
Oh dear. My 94 year old grandmother was talking about sex. My 94 year old grandmother was talking about sex with my grandfather who had been dead for two years.
I worded my next question carefully, not really knowing what the answer might be or if I really wanted an answer. “Have you had sex lately, Gran?”
 She turned her gray head towards me in amazement. “What’s wrong with you? Of course I haven’t! Your grandfather’s been gone for two years!” she replied indignantly. “What kind of woman do you think I am?” She stood up and walked over to the sink with her cup and saucer.  Staring out the window, I saw her shoulders droop a bit. “I do miss him so, Beth.”  I glanced over at the picture she carried from room to room.  It was a close up of my grandfather on his 95th birthday, a couple of years ago. I knew she missed him; we all did.
Staring out the window, she touched the small vase of flowers on the sill, stroking the little blue faces, deep in thought. I waited and watched, wondering what to expect next. Was she truly losing it? Suddenly she turned and resolutely said, “I need a man and you’re going to find me one.”
My 94 year old grandmother wanted a boyfriend.
I panicked, I’ll admit it. I would do anything to make my grandmother happy but a boyfriend? “Uh, uh…Gran…ummm,” I stammered.
 “What?” she cried, hands on her hips. “You think I can’t still keep a man happy?” She leaned over me, nose to nose. “I could teach you a few things there little girl.” Wide eyed, I gulped and sat back in the chair.
“Yes, ma’am.” was all I could manage.
Then I realized what she had said. My 94 year old grandmother had still had a sex life at 92!  I didn’t even have a sex life at 53!
A light I hadn’t seen in a long time came back into her eyes and she seemed to sparkle. 
“We can do that thing-a-ma-gig I saw on TV.  Eat Hominy, or something like that,” she stated excitedly. “You can bring that suitcase computer you have over so we can be profilers. We could put an ad in the paper, too.”  I closed my eyes, rubbing my now throbbing temple.  My grandmother had had sex more recently than I had.
“It’s EHarmony, a laptop computer and a profile. We absolutely can not put an ad in the paper for a man!” I told her wearily.
 I wasn’t sure what to do at this point. Humor her, calm her down, I told myself.  “Why don’t I take you over to the Senior Citizen center next week? You haven’t been there in a long time.” 
“Oh, piddle,” she said. “Those old crones are boring and the men walk around with their diapers hanging out of their pants half the time.” She looked me straight in the eye. “No men with diapers, you understand? No droolers either. Nothing worse than kissing a man who drools.”
Oh no. Now kissing!
Great. I had to figure out a delicate way of asking an old man if he peed his pants. I had to make sure he didn’t drizzle, too.  I shaded my eyes and sighed.  Why hadn’t I stayed home this morning?
“It isn’t just for the sex thing you know,” she told me.  “I miss having a man around the house.”
At this point I wasn’t so sure my aunt wasn’t right.  I had the feeling though, that the wacky one was me because I was actually going to help my grandmother find a man.
I arrived early the next morning with the computer and we commenced filling out the questionnaire after I set up an email account for Grandma. What should have taken 25 minutes took over 2 hours since Grandma wanted to make sure she got all the answers “right”. 
“Okay, Gran. Listen.” I said. “It says ‘We tend to focus on what we most want in a partner. However, it may even be more important to know what we want to avoid! Examine the list of items below and select Ten qualities that you can’t stand to have in a potential mate.’” I read from the website.  “Number one: Vanity… I can’t stand someone who is overly interested in their physical appearance. Two: Dependence… I can’t stand someone who bases their happiness on me. Three: Depressed… I can’t stand someone who is …”
            “Does it say anything about snuff?” Gran interrupted.  “I don’t mind chewing snuff but he has to spit outside like your grandfather did.” I scanned down the list.  Nothing about…
“Oh, and he’s got to take his muddy boots off on the back porch. I won’t spend my time mopping the kitchen floor and cleaning up after him.” She stated emphatically.  Boots, mud…
“What about coffee? Does it say anywhere that he has to know how to perk coffee? I miss having coffee in the morning with a man.”
My head hurt.
            We struggled through the rest of the questionnaire and finally I hit submit with a prayer of thanks and a sense of sadness for her.  After all, what were the chances she would find any matches? I truly didn’t think there would be many nonagenarians joining a match making website.
            I poured another cup of coffee as Grandma went into the other room to find a photograph for her profile page. She knew just the right one she wanted.  “I don’t look so old in that picture.” Gran said.  “Your grandpa said it was a sexy picture, too.” 
I sighed and opened the newspaper laying on the table.  I perused the headlines.  Nothing much happened around here of any interest.  Turning the page I saw it. A quarter page ad that read:  

WANTED!   MAN FOR COMPANIONSHIP!  94 year old widowed female looking for a new friend. I am a looker!  Must be clean and neat in appearance.  Sean Connery types preferred.   Extra bonus if you have a grandson for my divorced granddaughter. She is pretty good for 53.  Sex is possible if I like you and you still can. I don’t know about my granddaughter.  Come to 4662 Lakeside Drive to see me! Bring flowers.

“Grandmother!” I shrieked, “what have you done?”
“What?” she innocently asked from the other room.       Picking up the newspaper I rushed into the living room to shake it in her face. “You actually put an ad in the paper??” I shrieked, chest heaving in indignation. “How, how…uh…you don’t even drive! How’d you pay for it?” I managed to gasp out. 
            Gran continued to casually leaf through the photographs in her aproned lap.
“Oh, this nice young woman at the paper helped me out with it,” she said. “She said she’d be happy to drive over and pick up a check. I think her name was Eileen.  She giggled a lot.”
“Yeah, I’ll bet she did.” I replied.  I could just imagine the hilarity going on down at the newspaper right now.  That little witch Eileen knew exactly what she was starting. We had been nemesis since our high school days and Sam Benson had taken me to the prom instead of her.  Neither of us had seen him in 35 years but she never forgave me that slight. Seething inside, I tried to think of something, anything that I could do to fix this.  Nothing came to mind short of suicide or murder.
            I spent the next few days feeling like Marlene Dietrich, hiding my face all over town.  It’s a small town and I knew everyone had read the advertisement.  No one actually said anything to me, but I heard many muffled laughs and snickers as I passed by. My grandmother had always been somewhat of a character but she had really done it this time!
            Saturday afternoon I took a drive over to talk to her about her EHarmony listing.  Just as I had expected, no one had responded to her profile.
“Why can’t we change it?’ she plaintively asked. “Maybe you put something in wrong.” 
            “No, Gran,” I softly stated. “I think it’s just that you’re very special and there aren’t many men out there that can meet your needs.” 
It broke my heart to see the dejected look in her eyes again.  She had been so excited and hopeful the last few days when I talked to her on the phone. She had even put a blue rinse in her hair.
            “Well, hell’s bells,” she huffed. “Guess that’s that, isn’t it.”  Gran sat down at the table and fiddled with the teapot full of drooping blossoms. “I thought the ad might work,” she sighed. “Maybe I shouldn’t have said I’d have sex.”
That was still a visual I preferred not to think about. 
“Come on, Gran, let’s walk up and get you some new flowers.” I said, patting her shoulder. “That’ll make you feel better, won’t it?” 
Suddenly, she looked old and frail as she said, “You go ahead.  I think I’ll take a nap.” She walked slowly out of the kitchen towards the darkened hallway that led back to her bedroom.  That proud blue head hung down on her chest as she shuffled away.
            There was a knock at the back door.
            In a flash, my grandma primped in front of the hallway mirror, and raced to the door. Swinging it open with a wide toothed smile, I heard her gasp “Oh, my goodness.” 
Peeking around the door frame I saw him.  He wasn’t Sean Connery by any means but he was very handsome and dapper.  Standing on the back steps was a tall, thin gray haired old man, dressed in an antique tux holding the biggest bouquet of Forget-Me-Nots I had ever seen. 
“As I recall, Miss Myrtle, these are your favorite flowers.” he growled in a husky voice.
“Oh, my.”Gran said again.  I had not seen her at a loss for words ever in my entire life. “Frank?” she squeaked out.
            “Frank?” I squealed.
Oh no. It can’t be. Frank had dated my grandmother before she met my grandfather.  Gran always said she broke his heart when she started dating my grandfather 77 years ago. 
“I was only 17 and I couldn’t help myself.” She had told me once.  “I liked Frank a lot, but when I saw your grandfather…well there was no one else for me after that.”
            Uh-oh. My brain suddenly made a connection through time.  Frank…Benson.
It really wasn’t possible, was it? I heard a car door slam, footsteps coming up the sidewalk.  I closed my eyes.
No, no, please, let it not…oh please let it be…Oh crap, what do I have on??
 My eyes popped open at the words, “Grandpa, you didn’t tell me you knew Beth’s grandmother.”  Sam smiled and held out nosegay of violets towards me.
 “Your favorite flowers, I believe?”

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