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Grandpa Is a Problem

By MARY JANE HURLEY BRANT | Jun 14, 2017

I’m blessed to be called Grandma by three beautiful grandchildren. It’s a mighty title of distinction. Seriously, these kids have validated the reason I believe in all things funny. They are also my greatest excuse to act out. In their presence, especially after one glass of wine and a “come on, Grandma” plea to record a video on their iPhones, I morph into a poor imitation of Taylor Swift, dancing and singing, all the while thinking I’m good enough to be her stand-in. Then the grandkids simultaneously shout out, “Grandma, you’re going viral!” 

After they tire of the video fun, we carry on with Snapchat. Let the hooting and hollering continue! Notice when I say “we carry on” I mean the kids and me. Grandpa? Not so much; he likes trying to keep things calm. Good luck with that, Grandpa.

Family vacations with my husband and the grandkids are continuous fodder for this writer. Allow me to share some history to give you a fuller picture.

We often vacation on Long Beach Island because my husband and I were raised in South Jersey and it’s a rewarding return to our everlasting memories. Last year, though, we decided to try something different for a change and flew the troops to the Caribbean.

Midweek we strolled around a quiet island town. It must have been a very slow day because the cab and van drivers congregated in large numbers. Driver after driver approached my spouse and tried to sweet talk him into the bliss of an island tour.

“How much will this ‘other-worldly ride’ cost me?” my spouse asked each one. To every quoted price my husband shook his head. “Nah.” But one guy wouldn’t give up.  He was persistent. He never stopped smiling. He was on a mission.

“Everyone pays me $75. But for you, sir, a bargain, just $65.”

“Way too much, Buddy; we can walk.” 

That’s when the driver winked. I knew right then not to trust what was coming next.

“Lovely lady, let me offer to drive you and your party just half the distance around our beautiful island. That would save some money, yes?”

“That sounds delightful,” I sighed as my trick knees slipped in and out. Now keep in mind that it was also dinner time, the kids were tired and thirsty, hot and hungry. The pushing and shoving began. Our son and daughter-in-law just wanted peace and a drink.

“Dick, oh Dick,” I batted my baby blues, and flipped my just blown-out hair, “doesn’t that tour sound so nice? Just think of it, we can all take a lovely drive in this gentleman’s van, then find a cozy table under a big thatched umbrella. And maybe dinner won’t cost more than $300 for hot dogs and fries!” 

“We can walk, Mary Jane; we need the exercise.”

“Well, yes, exercise would be good for us, I couldn’t agree more, but in an air-conditioned van we can see a larger stretch of the island and my hair won’t frizz up. Besides, I saw a flyer for a charming beach restaurant not far from here where we can listen to the beating of steel drums. ” I had no clue of how far it was to any beach bar. “Wouldn’t that be just amazing?” You see, my method of persuasion is to repeat myself relentlessly, and keep talking fast until my husband either gives in or gives up, mostly the latter. This time he wouldn’t budge.

I felt the van driver’s eyes on me. Was it my Ipanema sway? Maybe, but more likely I suspected he heard my cajoling voice. On his long, skinny legs he turned and dashed away. Suddenly he was behind the wheel of his van and pacing our group gait by ever-so-slowly driving next to my husband. “Has Grandpa decided what his beautiful wife and lovely family would like to do?” he inquired innocently.

“Just like I just told you before, sir,” as the vein in my husband’s forehead changed from red to purple, “we’re walking and we like it.”

The taxi guy turned his sly eyes directly on the kids and smirked right before announcing loud enough for all to hear, “Grandpa is a problem.”

OMG, everybody heard it, even the other drivers. We all started laughing hysterically behind our hands. I know, I know, not very nice. Not very mature.

And even though it didn’t work out that night, I could see Grandpa sweating and thinking that maybe $65 wasn’t such a bad price after all.

Months later we were all sitting around in our son and daughter-in-law’s kitchen and these same great kids – two now teens and one very close to that age – reminisced about last summer’s vacation while laughing ridiculously loud and repeating over and over, “Grandpa is a problem! Grandpa is a problem!”

Guess who laughed the hardest at being the object of their triple affections? 

You guessed it – Grandpa and that swaying beautiful Girl from Ipanema named Taylor.

Mary Jane Hurley Brant is a psychotherapist in Newtown Square, Pa., who vacations on LBI.

 

 

 

 

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