My grandma is the kind of person everyone wants to be like when they get old. She has a response for everything and her ability to drop a dry witted/totally offensive one liner has only slightly waned with age.
At dinner when I was eleven years old, Grandma leaned over and hissed, “Bill doesn’t need Viagra,” as my grandfather entered the room. Another time, she confided in me, “I hope your mother doesn’t develop irritable bowel syndrome like I did.” When her cat started giving preferential treatment to my grandfather, she justified it with, “Oh, Ollie’s just a homo.”
And finally, at the tender age of fourteen, during a visit to her home in New Mexico, she made me a dessert called “better than sex cake”. Hovering over me as I took the first bite, she demanded, “Well? Is it?”
During that same trip she insisted on taking me to Albertsons grocery store.
When we got there, she led me down the long main aisle and announced, “I’m going to teach you how to steal.” We came to a section of the grocery store with a huge display of individually wrapped candies. She stopped so I did too, both of us eyeing the sea of assorted deliciousness from chocolates to peppermints to taffy and lemon drops.
Grandma let out a sigh of excitement, then leaned over the display unwrapped something resembling a candy corn, and popped it in her mouth. I figured that eating within the confines of the store didn’t really qualify as stealing so I joined her. A cashier walked by, eying us suspiciously but my grandma just waved and moved on to the lemon drops. For the next ten minutes she proceeded to shovel candy into her mouth.
Then she transferred the shoveling process to the inside of her purse. Handfull after handfull until no more would fit. Struggling to zip it, she turned to me, still chewing, and said loudly, “Put some in your pockets.”
“Go on, open your pockets and put some in there.”
Reluctantly I started filling the pockets of my jeans shorts with candy, continuing to cram in every tiny piece until Grandma said I could stop.
Next, she led me over to the frozen meat section and selected a large steak. My curiosity turned to horror when I realized she might try to walk out of the store without paying for the meat. I trailed her towards the exit and at the last possible minute she veered towards the check out and slapped the meat up on the counter. I think she figured that actually buying something would be a diversion of sorts.
Grandma unzipped her purse unaffected by the crowd of Albertson’s employees that were now watching. As she dug around for her checkbook she removed a handful of candy, put it on the counter, wrote the check and then put the candy, followed by the checkbook, back in her purse.
As we headed towards the exit, I waited for the inevitable; to be stopped and arrested. After all, a roomful of people were watching this elderly woman with her steak smuggle hundreds of candies out of the store via her purse and the pockets of her teenage granddaughter. Someone was sure to call the law.
But no one said a word.
We stepped out into the pounding desert heat. I watched my grandma, waiting for some sort of explanation for what had just happened.
But all she did was pull out her huge sunglasses, pat me on the arm, and say
“That, sweetheart, is how you take things.”