Issue #145 – “The Legend of Zelda” – February 9th, 2009

-Since I’m twenty-nine years old and Valentine’s Day is coming up, I’ve been thinking a lot about dating and romance in the thirties.  That is, the 1930s.  Recently, I visited my ninety-seven-year-old Grandma Zelda and asked her a bunch of questions about what life was like when she was single.  As my only living grandparent, Zelda is the last remaining tie I have to that generation, and I thought she would have fun reminiscing.  She played along for a while, then made me wheel her into the common room of her nursing home so she wouldn’t miss Bingo.  As it turns out, the game (of dating, not Bingo) hasn’t changed much in the past seventy years or so.

-My grandma worked in an Army Navy store in Queens with her father and uncle.  One day, the guy who would become my Grandpa Sam came into the store trying to sell raincoats and kick a little game to my grandma.  Though her father didn’t like the raincoats and turned Sam away, Zelda’s uncle knew she had a crush and thus placed an order anyway, enabling my grandpa to come back and see her again.  Although I never met my great-great-uncle, obviously he was a pretty awesome wingman.

-On their first date, Sam took Zelda to dinner and then to see “Gone with the Wind.”  (My reaction: “Grandma, you went to see ‘Gone with the Wind’ on your first date?  Damn you’re old!”  Luckily her hearing aid was on the fritz.)  The movie was playing at the historic (but now demolished) Roxy Theatre in Manhattan where each film was preceded by an elaborate stage show performed by the Roxyettes (precursors of the Rockettes).  Despite this lavish spectacle, my grandpa fell asleep before the movie even began.  Hey, the guy was on his feet selling fucking raincoats all day!

-I asked Grandma if Sam kissed her after that first date.  She bristled, “Of course!  What were we waiting for?”  Sorry, Grandma, I didn’t know you were that kind of girl!  Then I asked her if they had been drinking.  She said they hadn’t and they rarely did.  Quite frankly, now I wonder how they ever conceived my mom.

-As time progressed, Grandma would bring a change of clothes to work and then go out with Sam afterward.  Sometimes they would double-date, although she didn’t really like some of my grandpa’s friends (nothing new there).  Grandma also said that Sam always paid when they went out – it was expected of him so she never even offered.  “Really?” I said, “You never even did the fake reach-for-the-purse move?”  She waved me off and asked how much longer until Bingo.

-After only a few months of dating, Grandpa got down on one knee and proposed.  Grandma said she expected it might be coming and said yes right away.  I know my very existence hinged on that moment, but still.  Marrying a raincoat salesman who fell asleep on the first date and had obnoxious friends?  That doesn’t really seem like something you rush into.  Then again, even though I was only eight when Grandpa passed away, now that I think about it he was kind of a pimp.

-At this point, I could tell Grandma was getting restless so I asked her one last question: “Was Grandpa Sam a good kisser?”  I could tell by the melancholy yet nostalgic look that swept across her face that the answer was yes, but that I had also struck a chord.  She simply responded, “He was a good husband.”  No other words needed to be said.

-As always, here are some random things I’ve been ruminating about lately…

-The guy at the dry cleaners remembers my name about every other time I go in there.  I seriously get heart palpitations whenever I walk to the counter.  Is a familiar nod sufficient or does he need my ticket?  Fuck it, I’m never wearing a white shirt again.

-Have you ever been on the phone with an incompetent tech support rep who just runs with one of your ridiculous, offhand remarks about why the problem might be happening?  I’ll be like, “I don’t know, the router is pretty dusty.  Can that be it?”  And twenty minutes later the guy is like, “Unfortunately, there’s nothing more I can do on this end.  But it could very well be the dust.”  It’s not the fucking dust, jackass.

-Every year, when I renew my Sports Illustrated subscription, they send me a tote bag.  The bags are handy, until the zippers fall off and the entire bag spontaneously combusts.  This usually happens around Week 51.  Well played, SI.  Well played indeed.

-Ever reveal a weird habit or idiosyncrasy about yourself to somebody and they turn around and reveal one of their own?  Um, hello?  We’re talking about me here.

-Frustration is driving around with the air conditioner on full blast and having no idea why you’re still sweating your balls off until you realize the seat warmers are on.

-Frustration is being the drummer for a soft rock band or a female teen pop star.

-Frustration is being asked by Kodak Gallery to log in every single time I want to view someone’s photo album.  Just remember my shit!  You’re worse than my dry cleaner.

-If you yawn at the gym, you’re doing it wrong.

-Sometimes, if I’m really hungry, I just say fuck it and order a sandwich with a side of another sandwich.

-And, finally, I will be spending this Valentine’s Day with a very special lady – my sister Caryn.  She’ll be in town for work the week before and, since she lives in Boston and we don’t get to hang that often, she’s staying for the weekend.  We’ll catch up, drink some wine, and have some laughs about how it took two of us to interview Grandma (me to ask the questions, Caryn to break down the questions into simpler words and yell them directly into her hearing aid.)  When Caryn and I are both old and gray, I truly hope we’ll be fortunate enough to have inquisitive grandchildren of our own who want to hear about our respective love lives.  Unfortunately, I guess those stories won’t start until at least Valentine’s Day 2010.  Fuck me.