Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Have You Lost?

Following is a transcript from a recent phone call with my grandma:

"Grandma! Hi! I'm calling from London and wanted to tell you that Jim just proposed!"

"Have you lost?"

(Would you believe I actually know what she's getting at? But I'm shocked - especially given the news I've called to share and the fact that I'm calling from LONDON - that this is her out-the-door, first-thing-she-can-think-of-to-say, knee-jerk response. But even though I know what she's getting at I'm bothered by her passive-agressively beating around the bush so I decide to make her work a little harder. What'd you expect? I'm a feisty girl filled with hot Spanish blood.)

With the sweetest voice, "Lost what, Grandma?"

"You know, lost."

"No, I don't know. What are you asking, Grandma?"

"You know, how's your health?" Nice tactic, but she was unsuccessful at averting my focus. I'm still not giving in.

"My health's fine, Grandma. Did you hear what I said? Jim proposed."

"Have you seen a doctor lately?" She's working so darn hard to avoid directly asking what she wants to know, isn't she? It is making me mad. Or sad? Defeated? I guess all three. Mostly I'm fed up.

"Um, no. I'm on vacation in London and Jim just proposed. No need for a doctor."

"That's nice." She pauses, frustrated, I'm sure, that I'm as good at manipulating a conversation as she is. (She trained me well over the years.) Her only play left is to go for it.

"I was just wondering if you'd lost any weight." Ooh. There it is. I glance at my brother's Blackberry I'm borrowing to shout out the glorious engagement news to friends and family in America. Let's see, it took her one minute and thirty-three seconds to rain down on my love parade. Not quite a record, but yo grandma, even in your eighties you still got mad skillz, playah.

Alas, times have changed, Grandma. I have graduated from tolerating comments such as these.

"You know what, Grandma, you don't get to ask me that question ever again. My weight is none of your business and it is inappropriate to ask."

She knows she's wrong but she can't say she's sorry. "How's Eli?"

"Eli's fine. I will talk to you when I get back to Seattle."

She's desperate to keep me on the line. "How's your mom?"

"I've gotta go, Grandma."

Good for me, right? Just two problems. The first is that I may have stood up for myself, but I still let her words bother me . . . for the rest of the day. And night. Not OK. I gotta work on that.

The second is that Grandma won't answer any of my phone calls. Well, let me rephrase that. She doesn't have caller ID so she actually does answers my calls in hopes that it is anyone except for me. But when she realizes it is me she comes up with excuses to immediately get off the phone.

Want an example? OK.

Ring. Ring.

"Hi Grandma!"

"Oh, hi."

"How are you?"

"I just got out of the shower. Can I call you back?"


"OK. Bye."

No call back. For days. So I keep tryin.

Ring. Ring.

"Hi Grandma!"

"Oh, hi."

"I have been trying to reach you but it is a lot harder ever since Aunt L removed your answering machine."

"I was down at the nurse's station getting my medication."

"I don't just mean today, I've been trying to get you for a few days."

"The nurse is here, I have to go." (Hmmm. She used the nurse as an excuse twice in one call and I'm not buying it.)

"OK, then. Call me back."

No call back. Why do I care? She was mean to me for years, I took it lyin down, I finally stood up for myself and now she doesn't want to talk to me. It reminds me of the jerky men I dated before meeting Jim. Maybe I should re-read, "He's Just Not That Into You."

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