Drooling Grandpas

…Speaking of parked cars, only a kid could come up with a game called “Running Out From behind a Parked Car” The aim of this game, beside suicide, was to run out from behind a parked car when another car was approaching us on the road. We wanted to see how close we could come to being hit without being hit. That wouldn’t be smart. Not too smart but what can one expect from pre-schoolers. Smarts? Not likely and I am amazed that I am still alive today. A memorable snippet of childhood that was.

Yet another fate for toddlers, preschoolers, kids, that is worse than self inflicted injuries from stupidity is the mandated visit to Grandma and Grandpa.  My maternal Grandpa, on my mother’s side, drooled. And his lips were huge. Red and chaffed they were and somewhat blistered but not from the sun but from the wad of chewing tobacco he constantly chomped on.  His spittoon was always nearby. A dirty brass coloured round finely decorated in minute detail.  It was adorned with ornamental cherubs hovering over agricultural scenes with small claw legs that were there to remind the user of the fate that awaits if one carries on with a habit like this. Perhaps, but they sure paid attention to craftsmanship in those days. It was a beautiful piece of work that spittoon. And while second hand smoke may be bad enough, second hand spittle to a kid is a fate far worse than death and a gross fate to boot.  For what was a toddler’s job anyway? A cuddle, the compulsory hug and of course that peck on the cheek.  Both cheeks! Yuck!

I had a love hate relationship with those visits. I can still see Grandpa clearly, as if he was still alive today sitting here beside me.  There he was standing on the stoop looking above and beyond. All was right with his world. Hands in his pockets, his white shirt, dark black pants held up and tethered to his massive frame, magically, with bright red suspenders.  Red huge moist lips, and not in a good way, were bordered above and beyond by rosy red cheeks.  Cheeks that were divided by a huge bulbous red, pickled and veined snauze topped off by a crown of snowy white but fluffy thinning hair.  And on those very hot and humid days of summer a sweat permeated from every pore of his being staining his shirt with a sickening yellow sheen.

Kids are supposed to be excited when visiting their grandparents.  And I must admit that for all of the grossness I had to put up with I was excited but for more mercenary reasons. For with every visit and with every wet hug and with every wet gummy smooch that came with every visit was the mandatory handshake. And while he was breaking my fingers in that vice grip of a hand of his I could feel a bill fold then crumple into my small innocent pinkish hands. A dollar bill! Fantastic for in those days a dollar bill equated to over 300 black balls…