This morning, I was making my um, second (or fourth) cup of coffee and for some reason my grandfather popped into my head. Not the living one but, the long time gone one. My father’s father. The part of my genetic code that I wholeheartedly credit my quiet, quick and mental warfare abilities from. Thank you, X.L.. You were one of the greats.
Anyway… there are things about my grandfather that I can pull from memory and then there are the stories. Some of those stories were romantic and involved my grandmother, Ellen, and some that included a dog, a knife and jumping states lines but, that is all complete hearsay and no charges were ever brought against him and no one can prove anything. I mean, the guy lived for fuck’s sake but, yeah. That’s a story for another time.
Let’s go with my memories since well, I can confirm these. Well, I can confirm them as far as my first 12 years allow me to.
I guess what brought him to mind was my coffee. X.L. had some very unique ways of doing things. Being almost 41 years old now, let’s just call a spade a spade; he was OCD as fuck. “Unique”, ha. Back to the coffee though; X.L. would make his coffee in a regular old cup. Add his sugar to the cup, stir and then pour it onto the saucer and drink it from there. Pick up the saucer and literally, slurp it down. I always told myself that it was to cool off that delicious nectar of the gods but, I don’t think that I ever asked. I wish that I had asked.
Coffee in hand, I stood in the kitchen and just tried to remember the things that he did and said. Although I don’t remember his voice and I don’t recall words of insight or advice, I did remember another little doozie that again, I wish that I had asked about.
X.L. loved banana sandwiches and I’m pretty sure that this is another thing that I can give him props for. (I have one almost every night before bed.) He also, on top of his coffee thing, had a way of eating those sandwiches that boggled me and honestly?, I’m still confused as hell. A traditional banana sandwich, at least to me, is two slices of white bread slathered with Blue Plate mayonnaise and with slices of an almost over-ripened banana between. BAM! Pure fucking, glutinous deliciousness. However, this was not the case with my dear Pop. The components were all the same but the prep was over the top, WEIRD. Stay with me here…
X.L. would take a saucer (wtf is it with with saucers and this guy?), and use a fork to MASH UP the banana, then add mayonnaise to it and stir it until it was mixed and finally slathering it on the bread. That is a big, fat, unequivocal, disgusting NO. Oh, I tried it. Once. And once was enough. The slime and the goop. Nope. And again, something that I wished that I inquired about. For the record, I always just assumed he did it because sometimes the slices that are in between the bread will fall out and it can get messy; mashing it all together makes more of a spread and less likely to just fall apart. Yeah. I like my theory.
X.L. also had an earthworm bed under this enormous tree in his backyard. If he wanted to go fishing, and that was often, he would take a bucket and a rake, go out and just turn the top soil enough to see those nasty little fuckers scouring for safety, scoop them up and be on his merry way. I’m pretty sure that I was more than happy to help him scavenge for the things as a small child but, I do remember towards my last memories of him, hiding in the guest bedroom and playing in a hope chest that my grandmother still had full of her hats and gloves from the 40’s. (I was NOT supposed to be doing that, btw.)
There was a mirror that hung in their hallway. That mirror always creeped me the fuck out. All the things it had seen and the places it had been moved to. All the make up that was applied, the coiffed bouffant up-dos that were perfected, the ties that were straightened, the dirty faces of kids and grand kids passing by on their way to the bath, the tears of happiness at babies born and weddings and the tears of losing people they loved.
That mirror hangs in my formal dining room now. And sometimes I just clean it. But, never too much or too often. All of the things that it has seen, I will never know and that’s okay because it will carry some of my secrets on when I am gone. And maybe it will bring some memories to whomever it resides with next.
Xeles L. Swindoll, b.1911 d.1988