Musin’s and Thinkin’s – January 2011

Musin’s and Thinkin’s – January 2011

Jack Pendarvis
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My grandfather may not have had a college degree, but I’ll tell you what he did have: a wife stitched together from brightly colored scraps of cloth and stuffed with straw.

I hate to say it, but America has gone pretty soft. We’ve lost a whole heap of that can-do spirit and old-fashioned ingenuity exemplified by my grandfather and his life-size rag-doll wife. I shudder to think what he would say about all the wild shenanigans and such they have going on today. I doubt he’d find much recognizable in our “brave new world.”

He’d probably say something like, “What is this, a tree?”

And I’d be like, “Yes.”

And he’d say, “Why, Sonny, in my day a tree had arms and legs and it wore a vest with golden buttons and sang a happy tune and walked around like this.”

And then I guess my grandfather would start walking around all crazy, like a tree might walk.

You know what? He’s right over there in the next room, watching TV. I’ll ask him. But I’m going to wait until Entourage is over. Gosh, he loves that show.

Several hours have passed since last I took pen in hand. Granddad and I had a long conversation, and in many respects he was no help at all. He kept claiming to like modern society “just fine” and finally asked me to “quit bothering” him.

I listed a lot of things from which we need to take back our country, such as salacious jitterbug contests, to which he responded only with his famous benign twinkle and warm chuckle. Infuriating! But that’s Granddad for you. And that’s why we love him.

I got out my marching-band cymbals and started smashing them together right near his head, so that his remaining wispy locks, of a blinding and glorious white, were buoyed hither and yon in the resultant breeze.

“What about that?” I said. “Wouldn’t you hate it if somebody was doing that?”

“Well, I reckon that would depend on why they was a-doin’ it,” Granddad responded. “What if I was in a coma and they was tryin’ their dangedest to wake me up? Then I reckon I’d be mighty obliged to them for the effort.”

“But what if they were doing it for a terrible reason?” I explained. “A reason that is hurting America!”

“I don’t know,” replied the wily old coot beloved by all. “I can’t rightly imagine a reason like that. Seems to me banging on your cymbals is a way to blow off some steam and have some good wholesome fun to boot!”

“But what if this hypothetical rabble-rouser was screaming in rage and horror at the same time?” I gently reminded him.

Then I started banging on my cymbals and screaming in rage and horror at the same time.

Before I knew it, Granddad had whipped out his trusty piccolo and was piping a merry tune. I couldn’t help myself! Soon enough I was clanging my cymbals along in sympathetic rhythm, and what fun it all was. We played “The Washington Post March” and some Scottish favorites along the lines of “Ashworth’s Quickstep” and an Andrew Lloyd Webber medley. All the while I was screaming in rage and horror.

At some point I blacked out. When at last I came to, I was lying on the floor and Granddad was tenderly prying the cymbals from my hands, which had turned stiff and clawlike. He covered me up with a blanket and gave me a kiss on the forehead.

“Thanks, Granddad,” I said, my voice raspy from all the screaming. “I’ve really learned something here today. Could I have a glass of water?”

But answer came there none. I doubt he even heard me. For you see, the old rascal was too busy making out with his cloth wife. Who says that oldsters can’t enjoy the frisky thrill of amour? Sixty beautiful years and they’re still together. There’s no big secret to it. It just takes patience and compromise, and one of you needs to be made out of old sewing scraps. If that’s what the kids are calling “square” these days, then sign me up. For a “square” of quilting material, that is!

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