Smokin’ The Wrong Stuff

blue smoke wallpaper

Ok calm down. Those of you who know me well, and even maybe some of you who know me not-well, know I am staunchly anti-smoking.

My grandpa (who, incidentally, was a tobacco smoking enthusiast) had some of the best sayings. As I confer with my brother for fact-checking purposes, a famous story from our childhood goes like this: when my brother was 20-something, he had just been offered a highly coveted directing internship position with a well-known Broadway show. As he was sharing the news with the family, my business-minded grandpa asserted, “That’s great! Maybe they’ll offer to pay for your grad school tuition!” To which my mom replied, “No, dad. They don’t do that kind of thing, it doesn’t work that way.” To which my discouraged grandpa replied, “Oh… I guess I’m smokin’ the wrong stuff.”

Laughter resounded throughout the land, as one of the top 10 quotable quotes of my life entered the world. Thus began the first of many times this line was uttered by my brother and me.

That generation gave us English Language Gold! It fascinates me how the way we talk evolves and metamorphoses through the decades. We repeat the phrases of our elder folk because they make us giggle, and also to keep these linguistic gems alive! They must be delivered with proper intonation and voice for optimal experience.

I had three living grandparents for the majority of my childhood and early adult life. Each of them was a character for different and hilarious reasons, each yielding some terrific spoken treasures that live on.

Some more examples, for your amusement… enjoy:

Grandma J was babysitting and sleeping over our house. We were hanging out like two gal pals on the pull-out couch, eating popcorn in front of the TV. It’s past my bedtime. I beg her to let me stay up late to watch Solid Gold and Dance Fever. She relents, and fearfully exclaims, “Your motha’s gonna shoot me with a gun!”

My mom would bring her boyfriend/husband (aka my dad) to her parents’ (aka my grandparents) house for dinner. They’re all seated at the table together, Grandma S is spooning out portions onto everyone’s plates. Both of my parents are seated at the table. Together. Within earshot. Grandma S would ask my mom, “Does Mike like mashed potatoes?”

I asked Grandma J if I could run inside her apartment to use her bathroom before we drove to wherever we’re going. She handed me her key (actually more like 7 keys) and called out the car window, “Mention my name! They know me there!”

Grandpa used to answer the phone like this: “It’s your nickel, go ahead.”

My brother was driving faster than necessary on a highway with Grandma J in the passenger seat. She braced herself and said to him, “It’s ok! They’re not after us!”

Whenever Grandma S tucked in the young ones for bed, or headed up to bed herself, she would announce, “I’m going to say good night.” And then would proceed to not say “good night.”

Grandpa always said, “Rich or poor, it’s nice to have money.” I never quite knew what that meant, but I agree. Money is nice.

If someone ever asked my Grandma S or her sister, “How are you doing?”, the answer you’d often get was: “Fair to middlin’.” I’ve never heard this phrase before or since.

If one of us had made a poor decision, Grandma J would say, “I have a friend named Stupid. Don’t be like Stupid.”

Oh there are more, but I’ll leave it here for now. Their generation gave us so many gifts and giggles with their words.

They gave us shitloads of secondhand smoke too. But mostly humor and good memories.

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