Sometimes I’m still a little intrigued by how amusing people seem to find my family because it’s only been in recent years that I’ve recognized how funny these people can be in a neurotic kind of way. Last night we went to dinner at my grandmother’s house. We call her Bebe, the moniker she was given when I was but a wee little one and tried to call her by her first name. In my family, the women don’t mind aging however they do not like to LOOK or sound like they are aging, and Bebe sounded more appealing than Maw Maw or Granny. Last weekend, Bebe called me on my cell phone to invite me and the kids over to dinner. I was out-of-town with my sisters at the time, and got weird looks when I said she had called to formally invite me to dinner. See, this just isn’t something my grandmother does. She’s always cooking and never minds us stopping over, but an INVITATION?? DAYS in advance?? The last time she “invited” me over for food was to offer me a chocolate cake. She had not actually made the cake for me or the kids or HERSELF for that matter, but we were the lucky recipients of her most recent awkward encounter.

It’s no secret that when I get myself into a pickle, I’m likely to say something very awkward or at least get myself into a bigger bind simply by opening my mouth. This is a hereditary trait handed down by the women in my family like a secret family recipe – one for disaster. One day, my grandmother’s neighbor came over to visit. Not feeling very neighborly that day, Bebe tried to politely excuse herself by suggesting to the woman that she had a very busy day and needed to get on with her errands. The sweet neighbor did not pick up on the cues my Bebe was throwing and asked what kind of errands and activities were on her 82-year-old schedule. Quick on her feet, Bebe said the first thing that came to her mind and LIED….

“Well, I……. have to BAKE A CAKE!”

“Oh,” replied Nancy Neighbor, “I don’t have anything to do today, so I’ll just keep you company while you bake!” (SMILE)

“Well, um, I have to go to the store though because I don’t have everything here but thank you anyway.” (EVEN BIGGER SMILE)

“Great! I need to go too so we can go together!” (I WIN, YOU LOSE VICTORY SMILE)

And the two women headed off to the store. Bebe didn’t actually NEED anything there, mind you and had already been early that morning so she perused the produce and flitted through the frozen goods picking up a few interesting looking items along the way and headed to the checkout.

“My goodness!! exclaimed Nancy Neighbor. You almost forgot your cake ingredients! It’s a good thing I came with you or you wouldn’t have gotten the very things you came to buy!”

“Oh, um, well, SHOOT! You’re right! Let me find the cake aisle.”

And the two of them headed across the store, but not even Betty Crocker and Duncan Hines could get my grandmother out of this sticky mess before she battered the situation any further. Feeling flustered, she bought a chocolate cake mix with white frosting forgetting that they don’t even LIKE chocolate cake and returned to pay for this calamity. When they arrived home, Bebe offered her thanks and farewells only to be rebuffed by the suggestion that while neighborly Nancy had nothing better to do, she’d be happy to visit while Bebe BAKED. It was around 3 o’clock that I received the phone call while sitting in the carpool line asking if I wanted any cake and we headed over after school. When she tried to send me home with the ENTIRE cake, I knew something was fishy and Bebe copped to her wasted day of baking and chatting, neither of which she had intended to do. Oh, well! So she hadn’t really baked that cake for us, but the fact that she called us as first in line beneficiaries was a compliment.

Sooooooo, anyone can see how when I received the formal invite for dinner, my sisters and I thought something was amiss. Like ALL the women in my family, Bebe never does anything the easy way. She’ll swim upstream fighting the current until the fishiness is uncovered. Turns out PawPaw Jack hit the booze one night and got a hankering to visit with people and invited them over the next week for dinner. Mom got the invitation directly from the horse’s mouth, and Bebe followed up with mine as an afterthought. I’m not even offended by the fact that she invited all of us because they felt obligated after drunk dialing dinner invitations. Free meal! What did she serve?? SALMON, of course. And it was delicious, of course. And the dinner conversation got decidedly OFF course as the evening progressed.

Somewhere over dinner, mom was scolded for never saying “God Bless You” when her husband sneezes. See, he’s a little superstitious and it turns out that his feelings were a little hurt by Mom not recognizing what could be the beginning of a deadly virus or something I’m sure. Mom, always on the defense, offered up examples of how incredibly considerate she is and that choking or not BREATHING would warrant a response from her however a simple sneeze would not. How dare anyone think she is insensitive. She is after all the person who ran to the aid of an employee when she passed out in the store one day. Nevermind that Mama panicked and immediately gave mouth to mouth after checking for a pulse while my grandmother scurried to call 911. Or that she realized later that the GUM she had been chewing at the time could not be accounted for later. We are all certain that the sweet little model that had been working for her appreciated the FUSCHIA lipstick stains all over her face too. After all, she probably learned to start EATING so that she would never pass out in mom’s presence again.

We talked over dinner about computers and cell phones and how technology today just makes everything more complicated. My grandmother does indeed have a cell phone however she does not know how to use it. My cue to call her back is receiving a voice mail with her in the background saying something the likes of, “Well, crap! I don’t know how to work this stupid thing. I can’t even hear her talking. Just forget it. I’ll call her later.” I even programmed the thing for her with Mama’s number as well as my own so she only has to push one button but it turns out her fingers are too small. She has petite fingers she says that hinder her cell phone capabilities while PawPaw Jack has very large fingers forcing him to carry a pencil with an erasure when he has the cell phone. All the talk about keyboards and smart phones REALLY started to push MY buttons when they asked which kind of iPhone I would recommend so they could have one like mine. Dear God PLEASE don’t let them get an iPhone, and Steve Jobs PLEASE forgive me for saying it was a piece of junk so that they would not.

We ended the evening at the dinner table by taking a family picture with my daughter’s 3DS. If I can ever figure out how to transfer that picture to my blog (and only if everyone’s hair looks nice and faces don’t look fat) you’d see a group of four generations – quirky yet happy and grateful to have each other. You might also see my daughter standing in front with the same smile she shares with her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother (though it won’t be obvious because the older two generation’s jaws hit the floor when the youngest took the pic via voice command… priceless!) She wrote across the top of the picture, My Family Dinner, in rainbow letters so I hope this means we make her proud.

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