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7:19 a.m. - 2004-10-11

THE WRATH OF GRANDMA

FLASHBACK: Somewhere right around this past 4th of July, Susie and I were cleaning house.

We were tackling the kitchen when we came across the candy jar. It was an old glass jar, the kind you'd see on the counter of a small Mom & Pop grocery store. In it, we stored Andrew's "treats" that he was constantly reaching for rather than an actual dinner.

We were in the mode where "less is more" and decided to box up the candy jar which read "Hall's Candies" on the glass.

Then Susie had a better idea.

"Let's just give it to the Hall family next door," she chirped, because she always chirps on cleaning day which absolutely drives me nuts. "That'd be so cool to have a candy jar with your name on it."

"Great idea," I chirped back because if there's one thing I've learned, one must be chirpy around my wife when she's feeling chirpy herself.

So as the fireworks exploded in the sky above us that night, we delivered the candy jar to our neighbors who were all "Oh. Thanks."

They didn't seem that impressed.

FAST FORWARD: Friday, Grandma comes to watch Andrew, arriving at the oh-so-convenient time of 4:45 in the afternoon rather than 8 a.m. in the morning, thankyoujesus.

She walks in, places a bunch of bags on the kitchen counter and says with a growl "Where's the candy jar?"

...Here comes the back story of the candy jar...

In 1989, Grandma's mother died in Iowa at the age of 165 or somewhere thereabouts. She was old. And she had accumulated a SHITLOAD of junk in those 165 years.

Susie's entire family converged on the house for the funeral and subsequent pillaging of the house to pick what they wanted.

Grandma and her brother, Uncle Fester, were the only kids of this 165 year-old woman and grew up in this ramshackled home. Uncle Fester didn't have much sentimental value for anything in the house.

But ohmygod ... Grandma had sentimental value in abundance.

Either that or she just wanted every single piece of shit that came outta that house to box up and take up valuable space in her own junkyard of a home.

I remember sitting in that house as if it were yesterday as Grandma told a goddamned story for every piece of shit in that house between crying jags.

The little figurine on the fireplace mantle amidst the enema bags? Mama bought that in 1802 at a county fair for a penny. It's worth five cents now. Mama loved that figurine more than life itself. Therefore, Grandma must have it.

As the days went on and we kept boxing up more and more shit, it became obvious that Grandma truly wanted everything in that house.

And she got most of it.

We got ... the candy jar.

Only because I thought it was ... I dunno. It was cool at the time. We were decorating in a country style back then and it was a welcome accommodation in our kitchen at the time.

So with Grandma's blessings and subsequent long-winded story of how she used to have penny candy stored in that jar and would come home from school each day and her mother would allow her one piece of penny candy for an afterschool snack and she'd take her peppermint stick and retreat to the tire swing in the backyard and swing softly in the autumn afternoon and suck that peppermint stick while reminiscing about civil wars and bustiers and dining with Jesus at the Last Supper and whatever the hell else the woman blathered about.

I had no idea about the back story on the candy jar as I had learned to tune that shit out early in our relationship.

BACK TO PRESENT DAY: "Where's the candy jar?"

I was put on the spot right there in my own kitchen. The woman had literally not even said "Hello" yet or "Beautiful weather we're having, huh?"

"Where's the candy jar?"

Now ... I had a choice.

I could lie and say I didn't know where it was but it was around here somewhere and when Susie got home from her rock and roll concert that evening, Susie could find it for her ... in hopes that Grandma would forget about it and just fucking leave once Susie got home Friday evening.

Or I could tell the truth.

"We gave it to the neighbors next door," I sniffed. "Their last name is Hall and the jar was a pretty cool gift."

Now ... I've seen Grandma pissed in the past.

Back in the early 90s, she got so mad at Susie's brother for giving his newborn son the middle name "Robert" that she "divorced" her son/Susie's brother.

She wrote up a letter to Susie's brother, which included the line "I divorce thee".

(Y'see ... Robert is Grandma's ex-husband's name who is also her children's father. Grandma hated this man so much that for a long time, you could not say the name "Robert" or "Bob" in her presence. She would freak the fuck out if you did. For Susie's brother to give his son the middle name "Robert" ... that was grounds for mother/son divorce right there, pardner.)

Never mind that the brother's wife loved the name Robert. Sorry honey. You married into a family that does not allow you to utter the name. Pick another name for your child per Granny's insistence.

Anyway ... I've seen Granny pissed in the past.

But NOT. LIKE. THIS.

"SHE GAVE THE CANDY JAR AWAY?!?" Grandma yelled. "THAT JAR WASN'T HERS TO GIVE AWAY!!!"

Hold on a second, Grandma. Hold on just a goddamned second.

That jar has been in our possession for the last 15 years. It was a GIFT to us. And unlike her packratty ass who has to save every single piece of shit she ever lays hands on, we eventually get rid of shit once it no longer serves its initial purpose.

Grandma was livid.

And I was the only one in the house to bear the brunt of this attack.

"I'm sure we can get it back," I said calmly, trying to diffuse the situation. "They're nice neighbors and will understand."

"SHE CAN JUST MARCH RIGHT OVER THERE AS SOON AS SHE GETS HOME AND DEMAND THEY GIVE THAT CANDY JAR BACK!!" she huffed. "THAT CANDY JAR CAME FROM MY MOTHER'S HOUSE AND I USED TO GET A PEPPERMINT STICK OUT OF IT EVERY DAY AND BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH."

(I can even tune her out when her voice is raised. It's a gift ... I know.)

Even though I didn't have to be at work until 7:00, I kinda fudged a bit and said I have to be at work at 5:15 and you have a good night Grandma and I'll see you later and don't worry we'll get that candy jar back so you can put it in a cardboard box and store it next to the hundreds of other cardboard boxes that you have stacked in your dining room because you have so much goddamned shit in that hellhole house of yours that you have absolutely no room for one more goddamned thing to put in there and even though you're most likely going to die sometime in the next five years, by God, I fully understand the need for you to have that piece of shit glass tucked away somewhere in that rat-infested home. Have fun with Andrew, you crazy fucking fuck fucker.

And I hauled ass outta my own house.

And apparently when Susie got home around 11 p.m., Andrew was sitting on the floor of the den, about to fall asleep in a pair of shitty underwear that Grandma didn't change because by God ... she was too mad to change the kid.

Grandma gave Susie the same earful that I received ... but this time in front of Andrew.

Don't worry. Grandma has been fired from her job as Andrew's babysitter and is probably writing up our divorce papers as I type.

So here's the deal.

Sometime I'm going to go over to the neighbors' house, chuckle that even though I hate to do this, I have to ask for the candy jar back because my mother-in-law grew up in the depression when you didn't throw away anything and she has a wealth of sentimental value invested in that candy jar that mankind could never accurately measure.

Our neighbors ... if they haven't thrown the piece of rusted and cracked shit in the garbage yet, will gladly hand it back to me.

We will call Grandma and tell her that her candy jar is safe and that she can come and retrieve it and fill it full of peppermint sticks or douchebags or whatever the hell she wants to fill it with.

Except ... it's going to cost her $1,100.

Which, coincidentally, is the same amount of money that she has owed us for the last seven years.

Because ... just like that candy jar was apparently not a gift and just on loan to us ... so was that cash, Granny.

And it's time your psycho ass paid up.

What?

You say you don't have $1,100 to pay us??

Well gosh ... it looks like we're just going to have to SELL your childhood memories of peppermint sticks and tire swings in order to help you raise the cash.

And then you'll only owe us $1,097.

Uh-huh.

Check and mate, Granny.

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