So, getting back to the Flower Show and my grandmother’s annual pilgrimage to Philadelphia: its 5pm on Thursday and a few of my dad’s co-workers have made the mistake of stopping by. My grandmother is showing her usual photographs and pauses on one of her two (feral) cats.
“Guess what the cats’ favorite cold cut is?” my grandmother asks.
(They don’t know it but they’ve just become contestants on the Abuela Trivia Show.)
“Salami?” the first hapless co-worker guesses.
“Nope. It’s cream colored.”
“No. It’s the opposite of turkey.” (The opposite of turkey?)
“You got it!” she exclaims.
But now it’s time for the next round.
“How old was my father when he died?”
I’ve seen this routine before (birthdays, Christmas, Mother’s Day and just about every time we go out in public together) and I know it’s going to be a while so I pour myself a glass of wine while my dad tries to rescue his co-workers by pantomiming the answer. My poor mom, however, has been on Abuela duty all afternoon (while I’ve been out running errands) so I take pity on her and pass her the remainder of my wine.
Rather than answer, my grandmother (also an expert at pantomime) raises her thumb.
She raises her thumb again. Meanwhile my dad is frantically flashing his fingers behind her back to signal “100” but his co-worker is a little slow on the update—either that or he’s actually enjoying his time as a contestant on the Abuela Trivia Show.
Eventually he guesses 99, then 100, then the stories begin.
He liked to drink coffee.
He always asked the nurse for more coffee.
He drank coffee all the time.
He lived to be 100.
He drank coffee until his last day.
Really, it’s the same story over and over again and I’ve never been more thankful for my work as a critic with the Philadelphia Dance Journal: I can leave. Because I have a show to review. And press comps don’t come it sets of three (thank God!) so Abuela is staying home and watching the Lawrence Welk show on Netflix.
On Friday, we go to the Flower Show and I spend the entire afternoon dodging comments about The Wedding Date because I know she’ll hit the roof the moment she finds out that he has kids—heaven forbid! I tell her I’m meeting his “family” and act as if there’s nothing at all unusual about meeting one’s boyfriend’s family at an arcade. Then I escort her around the wine tasting, steering her away from the hardcore spirits and towards the wine cooler station, where she proceeds to ask the server “How old do you think I am?”
Not this again.
I mouth “21” and pray he’ll get the hint.
Fortunately he plays along and sends her merrily on her way but she decides that she really likes wine coolers so we have to go back to his station three more times until I succeed in explaining that this is a wine tasting, not a bar.
- We’re Just Here to See the Wine and Drink the Flowers (fieldworkinstilettos.com)