In a previous blog post, I may have given the impression that my grandfather was racist. He was, but that’s not what defined him. Not as a person, and certainly not as my grandpa. If you happened to be white, he was a loving, caring, charming, and funny guy. I loved him big big. It’s been nearly 40 years since he died and I still think about him, talk about him, and, well, write about him often.
He liked to tell stories. Not just any stories, mind you, but outrageous, ridiculous, impossible stories that us kids would just eat up, and believe without question…at least for a while.
This is such a story. One that has stuck with me. I’ll do my best to convey the story the way I remember it, but will not come anywhere near doing it justice. I am not the colorful storyteller my grandpa was, so if you enjoy this, just imagine it exponentially better. If you don’t like it, well, just imagine it exponentially better, from a 5 year old’s perspective.
I would have been about 5 years old and spending some time at my grandparents house. Grandpa called me into the kitchen. “I want to tell you about my dog. Please. Sit.” He sat me down in a seat next to his at the kitchen table. A seat that I didn’t usually sit in, but it was important to him that I sat just there.
My grandma was also in the kitchen. She was busy chopping vegetables for a stew we would be having for dinner. She looked over at us curiously. That look said, “oh no, what are you up to now?”
My grandpa began, “I used to have a dog. He was a good dog, and boy did he love me.” I smiled and nodded, trying to relay my understanding about how great having a loving dog can be.
“That dog loved me so much that he would run to me every day when I came home from work, and nearly knock me down! Then he was all kisses and tail wagging. He was a big dog, with a big tail! He’d wag that big tail so hard that his entire hind-end would wag.”
Even sitting, grandpa wagged his entire back-end and we both laughed.
“But that damn dog”, he continued, “kept smacking me in the leg with that tail. Smack! Smack! Smack! That hurt!”
Grandpa screwed up his face and rubbed his leg, as if remembering the pain.
“Well, I got tired of it! So I got a plan! I grabbed a big rubber band, like this.” He pulled out a thick rubber band, which had been wrapped around the morning newspaper.
“I put that rubber band loosely around that dog’s tail. Every day, he would greet me, a-waggin that tail and smacking my legs. Every day I would tighten that rubber band just a little bit.”
“After a couple of weeks of this, I came home one day really excited for supper. It was a nice day, so your grandma had that kitchen window open, and was cooking a stew just like she is today.
“Well, that dog came running to me again. Wagging its tail like it did every day. Only now the rubber band finally did its job! He was wagging and wagging, as happy as can be, and his tail flew off, right through that window, and PLOP! right into Grandma’s stew!”
I gasped, “No!”
“Yes!” He said. “After that, that dog still greeted me every day. Still with the kisses and wagging his whole hind-quarters, but my legs were never smacked again. And I do believe that was the best stew we ever had!”
My grandma looked at him and just said, “horsefeathers!”