Grandpa Seamus has been outrageous all his life. Had he been a child of normal parents, he might have been as boring as everybody else. He has a genetic package that propels him into difficulty rather often. He says he is half Irish and half Russian, a mixture that is seemingly indestructible. That may be bullshit too, but he thinks it’s true and that’s good enough for me.
Mommy says that many years ago there were no restraints upon Grandpa Seamus’ behavior other than assorted felony statutes, until Aunt Belinda entered his life. We all believe that Aunt Belinda is the only reason his is still alive. When he comes to visit there is always turmoil about his attitudes and excesses, which are many and varied. For instance, he tells people that Mommy is a gynecologist because she takes after him. He claims that he was a gynecologist in high school. His flight from Houston usually arrives a little before lunch time, and Mommy goes to meet him for lunch to see how his attitudes are configured that day so that she can plan for any possible upheavals.
About an hour before his arrival Mommy goes to his favorite local restaurant, Ellie’s, a Lebanese restaurant here in Birmingham, and gets the bartender to open a bottle of his favorite wine from the Bekaa Valley. That bottle, sitting on the bar airing out has become like a warning flag that Grandpa Seamus is in town and expected there for lunch. More than one person has mentioned to Mommy that when they see that bottle on the bar they spend more time there just to see what Grandpa Seamus will have on his mind when he arrives. By the time he arrives here at home for his nap he is much mellower. I think Mommy has the perfect opening gambit for his visits. She thinks he doesn’t know why she meets him for lunch upon his arrival.
When I was a little kid, long before I was seven, he used to seem like some circus personality, cooking meals for us all that we never eat unless he is in town. I thought that was really great, and Alex and I learned about food tastes from him. As we matured, however, we noticed that he didn’t seem to be maturing with us. He was stuck in some gear that does not exist on anyone else’s transmission. Now we just try to pay no attention and go on with our daily lives without anxiety about who he might arouse with some remark or other. He doesn’t cook much anymore, so his raison d’etre seems a bit vague. But Mommy likes his visits, although she insists that he reassure her upon arrival that he is not carrying any firearms or explosives into the house.
Locked and loaded seems to be his favorite condition. Just because one is paranoid doesn’t mean that there aren’t real risks to be dealt with out there, says he. He believes that law abiding lives matter and that all others do not. Accordingly, knowing the odds that some miscreant might cross his path with aggressive tendencies, he is prepared to repel boarders. Alex and I like it when he takes out his gun. It’s as though some wild man were actually a member of our family. When we go visit him and Aunt Belinda in Texas, we get to see her locked and loaded too. Aunt Belinda always totes a 9 mm semi automatic with three high capacity clips plus one up the spout, and has an AK 47 and an AR 15 within easy reach. All the weapons are always hot, no safety engaged on any of them, ever. No wonder they love each other so much. Armed and loving is their motto.
Mommy says that Grandpa Seamus has turned his aggressive tendencies into a livelihood – that people come to hire him to deal with their worst nightmare problems. According to her, he sorts them out quickly. She does not know of anyone else who makes a professional living dealing with crises while rarely ever wearing a suit. He was recently invited here to deliver a seminar for the Michigan Bar Association, an event at which most luminaries dress up like they were going to meet Jesus Christ himself, and wore slacks and his favorite Irish sweater. Grandma Sally, who used to be married to him, and who dresses up to take a shower, was of course appalled. She seems almost always to be appalled at everything Grandpa Seamus says. Maybe that’s a reason why they are no longer married. What Grandpa Seamus says about being married to her is simply not printable.
I have this lingering feeling that when I am older I will dread Grandpa Seamus attending anything at which friends of mine will be present. He is pushing 80 and I am 7, but I worry that he will always be here, no matter what, where or when. Alex, on the other hand, who is 5, thinks that Grandpa Seamus is who he wants to be when he grows up. Alex goes around saying things that he thinks Grandpa Seamus would say when dealing with dissenting views. Mommy lives in fear that Alex may say these things when he is in school or in Sunday school.
Alex and I can gang up on Grandpa Seamus and get away with it. He has come to recognize that we are being raised differently than he was and that it is Mom and Dad’s decision how we will be raised, not his. It took a while, but he has finally learned to say nothing and just let us do things as we do them without interference. I think that if we were to run out into the road and be in danger he would intervene. Short of that, however, he just mumbles things we can’t hear or understand, which is probably a blessing.
We have a dog, an old dog that just lies around and then barks when someone comes to the front door. We really don’t care about the dog at all. It was Dad’s dog before we were born and we assume that he likes it. When Grandpa Seamus visits he pays attention to the dog and the dog thinks he is wonderful. That’s fine with us. He could take the dog home for all we care, but Aunt Belinda has many (an understatement) cats. When we visit them in Texas the cats will have nothing to do with us no matter the inducement. The dog is probably happier here than it would be in Texas trying to acclimate himself to some predominantly feline world.
When Grandpa Seamus is here he will sometimes do something that he would not dare do back home. Usually that consists of an occasional bacon cheeseburger, which he calls “cheating on Belinda”. He seems to live in some kind of fear regarding Belinda ever finding out that he does such a thing. No one understands how it is that she can exert such influence and control. She has to be the only person in the world who can do that. People tell him that he is Belinda whipped, and he just smiles. Mommy says that he has never cared for anyone like he does for Aunt Belinda.
Aunt Belinda is very smart. Grandpa Seamus says that she is the smartest person he ever met in his life. She has skills and talents beyond description, especially when it comes to dealing with other people. He will listen to her even when he doesn’t agree or understand why she feels about whatever it is in that manner. He says he trusts her judgment way more than he trusts his own. Coming from him that is incredible respect. Mommy says he has never deferred to anyone like that in his whole life.
Aunt Belinda says that he used to learn everything the hard way. Even when he was around 60 years old he was still oblivious to restraint. They were driving to Austin one day when Aunt Belinda warned him that he was driving too fast, telling him that in Bastrop County (where they were at that moment) the police are very strict. He continued to drive like a bat out of hell for just another minute when he appeared on a policeman’s radar gun and was chased down. He was also wearing an outrageous outfit that day because they were going to his pal Mike’s birthday party in Dripping Springs. On his clothing were printed all sorts of socially unacceptable things having to do with drugs and obscene names of towns and people. The policeman made a point of loudly reading his attire before writing him up for what he was guilty of. Aunt Belinda just sat in the car and laughed her head off. He has not gotten a speeding ticket since that moment. When it seemed like the entire constabulary was just waiting there to dramatize the correctness of what Aunt Belinda was telling him, he got the point – at least about speeding. He considers misdemeanor statutes and ordinances to be advisory only, and regards felonies as the line beyond which he should not tread. Constitutional issues are all open for discussion, and he cross examines the Bible continuously.
Much to Aunt Belinda’s chagrin, he likes to take unpopular positions. Aunt Belinda says he just likes to poke people to see how they will react. He goes to great lengths to construct arguments about this or that so that he can respond to anything anyone might say in opposition to something he holds dear. For instance, a group of frustrated Arabs just shot up Paris France, and everyone but him seems to think that is very awful. His position is that it was just payback for all the awful things that the French did to the Arabs over many years, and he can cite historical chapter and verse about the subject. His offhand assessment of the situation is “Payback is a bitch”.
We are in the earlier stages of a Presidential campaign year. Many people who want to be President take positions that Grandpa Seamus describes in vivid color. Aunt Belinda tries to keep a lid on his big mouth, but he can sneak into his office in the middle of the night when she is asleep and write polemics about it all which he publishes on his personal website www.SeamusMuldoon.comand on social media. She refuses to read his “stuff” and has her own strongly held views, although she sees no point in sticking them in people’s faces for the confrontation value. That is a lesson he may never learn even though it comes from Aunt Belinda herself.
He feels that everyone is entitled to his opinions, like it says in the title to David Brinkley’s book. Aunt Belinda says that if they lived anywhere else he would be in prison for his big mouth. Fortunately, he seems to approve of God, so Aunt Belinda can sleep at night without fear of some divinely sent calamity. Aunt Belinda believes that his longevity is due in large part to God’s simply not wishing to have to put up with him in heaven. Everyone is certain he is not going to hell because the devil couldn’t handle the competition.
His best friend is a cat named Cowboy. He and Cowboy have a very special and intimate relationship. They share secrets with one another that neither could share with anyone else in the world. Cowboy is his sous chef and has very definite ideas about matters gastronomic. See http://www.seamusmuldoon.com/cowboysway.htm. When he is away Cowboy sleeps in his easy chair and waits for his return. Aunt Belinda thinks that they are close because they are both animals. She also believes that Cowboy keeps a lid on his enthusiasm about many less than positive things. Petting a cat is calming for both.
He is known to doze off with a sip of wine in his mouth that he has not yet swallowed, waking up choking and gagging with wine spraying through his nose. That is really funny looking and worth buying a ticket to see. You can just imagine what Aunt Belinda’s reaction is to that little stunt. Winter is setting in and we do not expect to see him until springtime. Last winter he had a case in Federal Court in Toledo, Ohio and we saw him every time he had to come north for some event in that case. He would leave Toledo in a rent car and drive to Detroit, meeting Mommy at Ellie’s for their customary lunch. He lived up north in Michigan and Minnesota for 23 years, but he has now been spoilt by the good weather in Houston and comes up north only when some client pays him to do so, except for his twice a year visits here. Aunt Belinda never visits here for numerous reasons. She has no one to leave with her many animals. She hates the winters here. She has no patience with Grandma Sally’s Scarlet O’Hara behavior. She does not want to infringe on Grandpa Seamus’ place to raise hell and eat bacon cheeseburgers out of town. He goes to visit his college roommate Ed Maiorine a couple of times a year and she never goes there either for most of the same reasons. He is not allowed to pack his pistols in New Jersey, which makes him more careful about where he visits up there. But Aunt Belinda believes that Ed has a calming influence on him too. Between Ed and Cowboy cat she believes he can just about make it through the year.
Next week is Thanksgiving weekend and he won’t be here then either. There will be too many people that he can’t stand, most of them his former in laws.
He never sends us birthday or Christmas presents because he has no idea what to send. He makes a donation to the ASPCA in our name and leaves it at that. So long as Mommy is his only heir in his will, we can deal with no presents. We have too many toys and things anyway. If he did send presents we probably wouldn’t even notice, and Mommy would make us write thank you notes. Oh well!
By Seamus Muldoon, Himself
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