Responsibility comes quickly these days. I am seventeen months old an I am flying down to Houston to babysit Grandpa Seamus and all the kitty cats, all 18 of them, while Belinda goes off to California for a long weekend to attend Ashley Sanfordís wedding.
Every now and then Grandpa Seamus needs to get some new part or other installed, cause he wears his body out all the time with his aggressive tendencies. He has a new neck from the days when he used to bet people a cold beer that they couldnít wring his neck. Brilliant, right? He has a totally new titanium right shoulder that he tells people he needed to get because he wore his old one out doing things people used to warn him to quit doing when he was a little kid, only they told him he would go blind or crazy and never mentioned wearing out his shoulder.
Over several years he has had to have parts of his back overhauled, and you can just imagine the stories he tells about that. Well, this time he had to have a real big reconstruction project on his back, with titanium screws and bolts and rods and all. He tells people (but it aint true) that he hurt his back trying out a new routine as an exotic dancer at Club La Bare in Houston Texas. Now if you have ever seen Grandpa Seamus, you already know that no woman on earth is ever gonna stuff dollar bills into his shorty shorts for doing some ridiculous dance at Club La Bare.
Anyhow, he is in a large hard plastic brace for three months and canít bend over much or pick up anything that weighs more than an empty soup pot, so I have to go down there and help him out while Belinda is away. I have decided to take mom along because she hasnít seen him in a while, and she can help me out with some of the chores.
It takes seven hours to fly from Detroit to Houston if you are dumb enough to take Northwest Airlines. Not only can they not compute weight and balance for their airplane, they didnít even know if they were too heavy to take off. It took a while for them to figure that out, as the person who knows how to do the math was off that day. In the air, finally, they picked the route with the strongest headwinds. The cabin crew on this flight from hell consisted of two PMSing bitches who told us Ė get this Ė that the reason we couldnít switch seats and go sit in an absolutely empty row was that we (mom and me) would upset the weight and balance and possibly cause the airplane to crash. We were exhausted by the time we got to Houston and the day was shot. We were supposed to be there before lunch. We had an early dinner and passed out.
Saturday morning began an adventure, as I have never spent a few days with 18 kitty cats since I was just a few months old, and I have no recollection of it whatsoever. Grandpa was in charge of all kitty cat chores because Aunt B I was away for a long weekend. It is just like living on a farm, said mom. No person gets any attention for any reason until all the animals are cared for. That means cleaning seven cat boxes and feeding all the kitties. In Grandpaís condition post op, that is at least 45 minutes. An expert could do it in just a tad over a half hour. One of the kitties, Booger recently had a stroke and is recovering slowly. Boogsey needs a lot of personal attention, and Grandpa adores him, so he is treated like royalty. He can go potty wherever he is, and Grandpa cleans up the mess as well as cleans him up gently and lovingly, cooing to him like he was a new grandchild. I went over to give Boogsey a hug and the little bastard hissed at me. Grandpa says he isnít used to strangers. Grandpa has a private bet that Boogsey will be walking a little by Christmas.
Aunt Belinda had already left for California by the time we arrived in Houston, so we had Grandpa and the kitty cats all to ourselves. On Saturday morning the first thing upon awakening, Grandpa cleaned all the litter boxes and fed all the kitty cats. Then he made us breakfast.
After breakfast we brushed our teeth and off we went to Grandpaís favorite super market, H.E.B. Supermarket, a new store that seems like there is nothing anyone could possibly want that is not right there on the shelf or in the cold case and all you have to do is reach out and take it or ask a clerk. The fresh meat department alone is 50 yards long. And that doesnít count seafood and smoked meats. We donít have anything anywhere remotely like that in Detroit, and Grandpa says groceries in Houston cost much less than they do in Detroit. The wine department has wines from almost everywhere and they give you a ten percent discount if you buy only six bottles.
Then we went back home, had lunch and it was nap time. After my nap we went to Rice Village and visited the Frog, a French cafť for a mid afternoon pastry and coffee. Then we went to a shop that exploits the poor of the third world by selling the craft items they make at much more than they paid the natives to make them, claiming all the while that they are doing a great humanitarian service. We bought a few cheap trinkets and then off to the park to play with the other kids whose parents had brought them to the park. The kids there spoke several languages. Grandpa Seamus and mommy understood what everyone was saying, but I didnít. But I had fun anyway cause the kids were fun to play with.
For dinner Grandpa Seamus made a braised lamb with an exotic sauce of harissa, broth, veggies, herbs and spices, tempered with fig paste, from North Africa. It was wonderful. He served it over basmati rice simmered in chicken broth and seasoned with olivada, a Sicilian olive salad. It was all out of this world.
Sunday morning we awoke to the aroma of fresh baked biscuits and honey made by the bees in the hives of Aunt Belindaís Aunt and Uncle Bo and Linda way up in Tyler, Texas. Then we were off to the Houston Aquarium where all the sharks knew Grandpa and swam up to the window to say hello to him. Mommy said itís because Grandpa is a lawyer. They also have two enormous white tigers separated from the public by floor to ceiling glass. It allows them to almost touch nose to nose with the kids, and I am sure they would eat us all if the glass were not very strong. We then went on a train ride through a simulation of Houston swamp with gaters, and then to lunch at an Italian restaurant. After my nap we went to Phonecia, Grandpaís favorite Euro grocery store where you can speak about 20 languages with the staff and the other customers. Grandpa was out of ras al hanout and needed to replenish his harissa supply. Grandpa got me a cookie at the bakery counter and mommy had a fit because she says I canít eat nuts until I am four years old. Grandpa thought that was ridiculous, but tried to find one without nuts. He got me a mamoul, but inside the pastry was a mixture of dates and nuts that was delicious. Mommy tried to take the cookie away from me, but I wouldnít let her. It was wonderful and I didnít die from eating the nuts. So now I can eat baklava too, except that mommy thinks honey may have some God knows what risk. Since I didnít die from Aunt Linda and Uncle Boís honey, I canít understand all this. Grandpa said that my pediatrician is just a lunatic and is probably projecting his own kidsí allergies onto all his other patients. Grandpa thinks we ought to move to Texas where everything is wonderful all the time.
On Monday we went to another Frog cafť and I had a lemon Madeleine. YUM! Grandpa teased mommy that it was made from ground nuts, but it isnít. Mommy wouldnít let Grandpa give me a sip of his wine, so I canít report on that experience yet. I may have to wait for that until I can visit Grandpa by myself. He says that since I like girls so much and they seem attracted to me, he is going to use me for bait. What on earth does that mean?
Everything about Grandpa seems to revolve around food and wine. Mommy says he used to be a biker and now he has to find other activities because Aunt Belinda doesnít like him being away on his motorcycle raising hell all over creation. I donít think he would want to be away from Aunt Belinda anyway. He loves her as much as he loves the kitties.
Hey, guess what! Mommy is going to have another baby Ė another boy. I wonder if he will be as terrific as everyone says I am. Will he be as good looking and have as grand a smile and as pleasant a personality and have that same effect upon all the girls that I have? He is due to arrive just before my second birthday in May. Grandpa doesnít like the names mommy and daddy have picked out. He says they are sissy names and are just going to get the kid beat up all the time. He says that Grant and Trevor are not names that suggest anyone significant and that they are punch me names. I agree. Those are awful names. He likes Michael, after his best friend Mike Tulloch, Special Forces type, and one of Grandpaís old biker buddies. He and Mike Tulloch used to ride a thousand miles just for a beer in their favorite saloon. I am certain they had more than one beer before they returned home. Grandpa really likes my name, Gunnar. He says itís a real kick ass name and that it just reeks of testosterone, whatever that is.
Oh well Ė we have to go back home now. I think the kitties will be happy to see us leave. I chased them all over the house to play with them, but they just ran away and hid, or if I got real close they hissed at me. I wonder if I will get to see Grandpa Seamus again before my new brother is born. I hope so. Heís fun Ė most of the time. I know he thought we were nuts when Mommy insisted that he put all the guns away. I did manage to find a pellet gun that he forgot about. Mommy had a fit. I also found an axe that drove Mommy through the ceiling. I couldnít possibly pick up any of the guns that Grandpa and Aunt Belinda have anyway Ė and who would I shoot? Mommy and Daddy donít have any guns. Grandpa Seamus calls them professional victims. Grandpa Seamus and Aunt Belinda are always locked and loaded, and Grandpa packs all the time. He was born ready, he says. He says that Aunt Belinda is actually a better shot than he is and that she would shoot anybody for the slightest reason. I like her a lot. Grandpa says lots of people just need shooting. I wonder what he means by that. Oh wellÖ.
By Seamus Muldoon, Himself
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