Every time I go up or down the stairs my knees sound like Rice Krispies. Snap. Crackle. Pop.
After brief consternation I think of my Grampa.
Mom and I lived with Gramma and Grampa for a couple of years after her divorce. I was five when we moved in.
Grampa’s office was downstairs and his knees popped and cracked and snapped the whole way down. He could never sneak up on anyone if stairs were involved. So as my knees announce my progress to the laundry room I remember the many things about growing up with Grampa.
The first thing I remember is making drinks. As a recovering alcohlic, this does not surprise me. He and Gramma loved a good martini. I remember the ritual. Ice cubes and gin into the shaker. Shake. Check the outside of the container to make sure it is chilled (my job), top with the strainer, pour into glass. Add the olives and enjoy. And they did. Grampa was funnier when he drank, Gramma just got mean.
To include me in their drinking fun Grampa and I would then concoct a crazy mixture of my choosing. He would let me pick whatever liquid was in the fridge to add to my glass. Root beer, grape soda, orange soda, ginger ale, orange juice, grape juice and it was always, always topped with three or four maraschino cherries and a splash of maraschino juice. More often than not I opted for the standard Shirley Temple, 7 Up and a splash of cherry juice.
Now comes the best part, I got to choose a fancy stirrer to mix it all up with. You see, back in the olden days, you got a fancy drink stirrer with your drink. Restaurants, bars and even airplanes served drinks with stirrers. Grampa had at least three jars FULL of them. He traveled a lot with his business. He wined and dined clients. It seems that the more you drank, the better the deal. Grampa was a schmoozer. Grampa was a good salesperson. Grampa had a boatload of stirrers.
There were airline stirrers, hotel stirrers, political stirrers, liquor store stirrers. They had elephants, birds, cowboys and donkeys on them. There were even a couple of playboy bunny ones. And of course the traditional swords that you skewered your olives with, or in my case, cherries. A quick swish around and I had a kiddy cocktail that was to die for.
(As a quick side note there were even a few of the ‘infamous’ McDonald coffee stirrers in the mix.)
Well, more often than not, those concoctions were not palatable. So, we threw it away and he made me a Shirley Temple.
I wonder if his allowing me to be reckless with my ingredients hasn’t had an influence on my creativity. I wonder if he knows that that simple freedom would encourage me to take chances in other areas of my life. I wonder if he knows how much of his influence has made me the woman I am today. I wonder if Grampa was teaching me out of the box thinking. I wonder why I didn’t see this sooner, so I could tell him. So I could thank him. I wonder if he chuckles as he looks down on me and laughs as I snap, crackle and pop my way down to the laundry.