Keeping in Touch

Shortly after Tuesday’s earthquake, once I knew my wife and dog were safe, I figured it would be a good idea to call my family back in New York. Whenever something happens anywhere in the state of California, somebody back home worries about me, especially my grandmother. Grandma has a funny way of handling this worry though; when she worries about me she won’t call me directly to ask how I am. I guess she figures I’m busy dealing with the issue so what she does instead is call relatives, usually starting with my aunt in New Jersey until someone tells her I’m OK. I’m told that she also calls my sister in Florida for California issues, but in the event of a hurricane in Florida she calls a friend of the family in Pennsylvania then me and so on until someone tells her everything is OK. We call it the indirect reassurance method, and while we kid her about it, it obviously works for her. She knew pretty quickly that we were all fine out here in Los Angeles.

Talking about my grandmother remind me of two stories, one from more than 50 years ago and one from last year.

Taxi Service

Just after finishing high school my grandmother got a job as a switchboard operator for the phone company. On one rainy day she called a cab to take her to work and behind the wheel of the taxi was a man in his mid 20’s, blonde hair, blue eyes and wearing a white t-shirt. He put out his cigarette and asked where she was going; she gave him the address and sat quietly in the back as he drove, until he asked;

“You work there?”


They drove in silence for a while but as they approached the building she worked in he looked at her in the mirror, smiled and said

“Well since you have a job you should take me out sometime”

“Excuse me” she told him, “but as the man you should be the one taking ME out”

Now stopped in front of the door he turned around to her and said “I’d love to, what time do you get done”


“I’ll be waiting for you right here.”

One More Cup of Coffee

My grandmother married that cab driver, and while he passed away she has lived in their house for over fifty years. Last year, after I got married, I took my wife to my grandmother’s house to but I explained beforehand about the rules of the house. Over the years there have been several rules we’ve had to follow, including:

1- No food in the living room lest we spill on the carpet.
2- The plastic never, ever comes off of the couches.
3- Don’t even think of pouring coffee.

The third one is the big one, over the years we’ve occasionally carried a plate through the living room and while the couches are still covered in plastic I’m guessing that were only a few decades away from that changing but pouring coffee is not going to happen.

The coffee rule started to keep the kids safe, there was a lot of coffee drinking at my grandmother’s house and to keep us from getting scalded the pouring was for adults only. At age ten I figured I’d be able to pour by the time I was 18 and then maybe 21…by twenty five I gave up hope and so to this day I simply hold my cup out and let grandma pour for me. When grandma offered Nina coffee, my wife reached for the coffee pot and I stopped her; my aunt who knows the rules just laughed and explained. Nina let grandma pour.

After a while we started to talk about my grandfather. My grandmother was telling a story about a dream she had after he had passed away and in the dream Jesus came to the house, sat at the table and reassured my grandmother that everything would be okay. I don’t know what you think about Jesus but even if you’re not a religious person it’s a nice story. After my grandmother left the room my wife turned to me and asked:

“Do you think when Jesus was here he was allowed to pour the coffee?”

No way, he was only 33.



Filed under General Tomfoolery

21 responses to “Keeping in Touch

  1. stephanie

    fuckity fuck fuck fuckpants.

    anyway i LOVE hearing stories about your family. you are a really good writer which is why i recomend you to all of my friends.

    even when im sober and can spell better

  2. Yeah, what Stephanie said.

    I love these kinds of stories. My father’s mother had plastic on the furniture, and my mother’s mother was the only person to let us have coffee. I was told by everyone else it stunted your growth. So I barely every drank it as a kid but I guess those rare cups o joe with Grandma was enough to keep me outta the NBA.

  3. Family stories are the best, and yours are the awesome.

  4. Awesome story. And I think a lot about Jesus.

  5. Elyzabith

    This story made me call my Grandma.

  6. Aw! This is a very sweet post. I miss my grandmas.

  7. Great story, thanks.
    Never really got the plastic on the furniture. Wrap it in plastic that is horrible to sit on so it will last forever without ever really being enjoyed.

    Best friend a zillion years ago had wrapped furniture. They went to a higher level with plastic floor mats criss-crossing to accommodate all possible paths. Just weird.

    Still thinking about your earthquake/twitter post. made me wonder if after 13 yrs. of marriage, would we twitter? I guess it’s good there aren’t many earthquakes in PA. (I kid)

  8. I am going to start bugging you daily until you write a book about your family.

  9. We could pout the coffee but not the vodka. You couldn’t have vodka out of juice glasses with the adults until you were taller than my baba.

    She was 4’8″.

  10. Do you look anything like your grandfather? Because as soon as you started describing him, and before I got to the bottom of the paragraph and knew for sure she’d married him, I saw you behind the wheel of that cab.

    My grandmother didn’t have the plastic, but she did have the living room, which was kept closed and had the “good” furniture in it. I really only remember going in there to have pictures taken. It doesn’t sound as weird as it was, unless you know that my grandparents’ house was only about 1,100 square feet – pretty small to give a whole room over to an uncomfortable couch and a gold-velvet armchair.

    Still not quite as weird as my ex’s grandmother, who had a white wool carpet in her living room that was so precious, the only furniture allowed in the room was a big sideboard she kept the good china in. She didn’t want anything else denting that rug.

  11. I love stories about your grandparents! My grandma married an ex-con Hell’s Angels biker which makes for a significantly less cute story.

  12. Fantastic stories – thank you for sharing. Grandmas rule!

  13. Amy

    Yes, your family stories are awesome. Plus your grandma sounds a lot like my abuela…with the plastic couches and all.

  14. Aw, that’s a fantastic story.

    The coffee thing reminds me of my Maw-Maw. She never let the kids pour coffee, or soft drinks. She also had to feed you. It didn’t matter whether you were hungry or not. She’d bust out cookies or start cooking up a batch of chicken n’dumplings or frying fish. Damn, I miss Maw-Maw.

  15. Your grandma is cute.

  16. betheboy

    @ Everyone – a few responses to the comments.

    Thanks for reading, these are my favorite posts to write. My grandmother is awesome and to answer Chia’s question I look a lot like my grandfather.
    Also, I still haven’t poured the coffee.

  17. My grandmother (named Mace) and my grandfather met on a blind double date. Since the gents didn’t know the ladies, they tossed a coin to see who went out with who. I’m so glad it worked out!

  18. betheboy

    Mace- I’m it worked out the way it did for your grandparents I sometimes imagine what would have happened if my grandmother took the bus that day.

  19. Damn you for making me tear up at work.

  20. betheboy

    Sarah – I’m sorry.

    I just read this post to my room mate.. she started to tear up about the cab…. and said that we needed to call some cabs…. then she stopped… and said “oh wait… we live in the ‘burg… I’ve seen THOSE taxis”

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