Issue #183 – “The Legend Continues” – February 28th, 2011

-When I interviewed my then ninety-seven-year-old Grandma Zelda in Ruminations #145 (“The Legend of Zelda”), it was one of my more popular columns in recent memory. Now that Grandma is ninety-nine, I thought it would be a good opportunity to interview her again. So off my sister Caryn and I went to Grandma’s nursing home, armed with a ream of pre-printed questions because she can see fine but can’t hear for shit. Caryn held up the questions while I logged the answers. We had to work quickly as it was already 5:30pm and nearing Grandma’s bedtime.

-I’ve never seen one myself, but I’ve been told that some people have a cash bar at their wedding these days. This seems ridiculous to me so I asked Grandma what her wedding was like. She said that hers was definitely open bar, confirming my belief that my family has always known how to party. Then she added that her late husband, my Grandpa Sam, didn’t have a bachelor party and that their honeymoon was in New Jersey. Still, one out of three ain’t bad.

-I then asked Grandma what was the most money she ever earned. She said she made $20 a week as a typist for the department store Montgomery Ward in 1932. I didn’t have the heart to tell her Montgomery Ward went bankrupt ten years ago, and that AutoCorrect and T9 have rendered typing a lost art form. But the fact that $20 is the most she ever earned in an entire week certainly does explain why she gets so excited about winning 25 cents at Bingo.

-Grandma has never been shy about voicing her opinions on my love life (or lack thereof), and this day was no exception. I asked her what kind of girl I should look for and she replied bluntly, “A good-looking one.” Grandma obviously has no faith in my game. “I agree,” I said, “but how do I meet the right girl?” “Just be nice,” she advised, then looked me up and down and added, “and lose the beard.” I shaved that night.

-Zelda and Sam moved to Queens after their wedding and she recalls seeing the Dodgers play at Ebbets Field, crying in the subway upon learning of FDR’s death, and celebrating the end of World War II in Times Square. Grandma was born in Romania and did a stint at a retirement community in Fort Lauderdale, but other than that she has spent much of her ninety-nine years in New York. When I tell her that I won’t see her for a while because I’m going back to Los Angeles, she always looks confused. I can never tell if it’s because she can’t hear me or because she doesn’t understand why anyone would ever live in LA.

-I also asked Grandma about her views on prohibition, since she lived through it. She said she was opposed to it, even though she never drank much. I applaud her for not wanting to ruin the party for everyone else. She also said she never smoked, but did often play poker for money, so she wasn’t completely vice-free. Now I can’t help but envision her sitting at a cards table in Queens, throwing her $20 check from Montgomery Ward in the pot, and proclaiming, “All in!”

-Soon it was time for Caryn and me to wrap up the interview. Grandma was getting tired and when she told us the person she most wanted to meet growing up was Cary Grant, I couldn’t bear to tell her today’s most popular celebrities are Charlie Sheen and someone called The Situation. My final question before she drifted off to sleep was, “What are you most proud of?” She smiled, pointed at me and my sister, and simply said, “You.”

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

-I was on my laptop at my parents’ house recently when my mom asked if I could look something up for her. When I agreed, the first thing she said was, “Okay, go on the Internet.” Yeah I got that part, Mom. Just tell me what the hell to Google.

-Channel four on Sirius is “40s on 4” – as in music from the 1940s. Fact: no one who listens to big band owns a satellite radio. I mean, even the logo for the channel is an old-school wooden radio with knobs. They’re practically taunting their target audience.

-My buddy Rob got married in Brooklyn a few weeks ago. I showed up late but no one saw me sneak in just after the processional. Later, during the reception, Rob said to me, “Karo, I can’t believe you missed the beginning of the ceremony.” Busted, I stammered, “How did you know?” “Well,” he replied, “just before I went down the aisle, I looked at the table with the place cards. Yours was the only one still there.” I hate weddings.

-While I was in New York, I visited Triplet #1 and his newborn daughter, Triplet #1A. As I was holding her, she shat something awful. Figuring there’s a first time for everything, I asked if I could change her. But when I opened up the diaper, there was no poop. Turns out she had merely farted the worst smelling fart of all time. It takes a lot to impress me – but that was fucking impressive.

-I loved Trip 1’s candid explanation of why he definitely wanted to find out the sex of the child when his wife was pregnant. “If it’s a boy,” he said, “then it is what it is.” “But if it’s a girl,” he continued, “then I need to prepare myself mentally.”

-As I mentioned in Ruminations #181, now that they have a kid, Trip 1 and his wife are moving from Manhattan to the suburbs. When I pressed him on why he was leaving NYC behind, he said, “I’ve been living in the city for ten years. I don’t even take advantage of it anymore. I actually feel kinda bad. I’m just sitting here on the couch. It’s like I’m taking someone else’s slot who could be out there raging.” It’s an understandable sentiment I guess. I just hope whoever takes his “slot” is young, hot, and female.

-Before I returned to LA, I ran into another friend who recently had a kid. I could have sworn something was different about her. I was like, “Did you change your hair?” After much interrogation I realized that her boobs – which were already big – were now enormous due to breastfeeding her newborn. I mean, I’ve seen that kind of transformation in LA, but it’s usually the result of implanting something into the body, not popping something out.

-And, finally, Grandma has been in declining health recently, which is distressing in and of itself and also because she’s so close to her 100th birthday on 11/11/11. She remains in remarkably good spirits though and still plays cards – but has traded poker for gin rummy. Some things are certain: she’s led a remarkably full life, seen her great-grandchildren grow up, and maintained a sense of humor I hope to have inherited throughout. Legends don’t last forever, though I wouldn’t be surprised if Zelda did. We can all learn a lot from our grandparents. I’ve learned to trim my beard, “be nice,” and only court attractive women. Wiser words have never been said. Fuck me.