Published January 27, 2011

You seek your grandfather’s advice

You receive sage advice from your grandfather
You receive sage advice from your grandfather

You and Emily return to Ohio for the winter holidays despite your preference for the warm South Carolina weather. “I wonder if my lizard is going to die while we’re gone,” you ask of Emily who is busy packing for the two-week vacation in Dayton. “I mean, I don’t expect him to live forever, but it’s probably warm enough in the apartment if he finds a patch of sunlight in the day. I often find him asleep on the modem, so I’ll take a couple hours out of my day to watch just anything on Netflix to heat the modem up. I’m not so sure if that works, but I have surmised that it makes a difference.”

“Honey,” Emily says, “are you all right? You’re rambling!”

“Yeah, I suppose I am. Ok, ok, let’s hit the road!”

You take Emily’s bags to the car like an excellent boyfriend or a pretty good cab driver, then you sit in the passenger’s seat, buckle up, and close your eyes tightly, hoping that she won’t see you or ask you to drive.

“What are you doing?” she asks as she shifts into first gear. You have no idea how to drive a manual transmission and the prospect of learning to drive a car with two feet through five different gears is bewildering. You shyly admit that you’re afraid of even trying to drive her car.

“I’ll teach you. It’s easy,” she says pulling into a Piggly Wiggly parking lot. “Switch me.”

Half an hour later, you are nearly bald. You can barely hear, and you feel like you might vomit from the jerky stopping and starting of the car. The stress is getting to you. You switch seats with Emily and fall into a deep, angry sleep.

You wake up in Jellico, Tennessee to the twinkling of a thousand stars. Emily is smiling faintly and her gorgeous face is illuminated by a passing semi-truck. You think to yourself, “I’m a lucky guy to have her. Things have been great over the course of the last eighteen months. Now that she’s not constantly dumping me, I think I should marry her.”

*****

The next day, you ask Emily if she can drop you off to visit your grandfather. “Which grandfather?” she asks out of genuine curiosity.

“Gramp. My mom’s dad,” you explain, “I never knew my dad’s dad. Franklin Pierce Teaford. Named after an obscure U.S. President. How do you like that?”

“No way,” she objects. “You just made that up to be funny.”

“No, it’s absolutely true. So you can understand why someday I may name my son William Jefferson Clinton Teaford,” you say as you get out of Emily’s car.

You talk to your grandfather. He’s old. He’s wise. He’s seen every episode of Judge Judy, and he’s gotten good at telling people what to do over the years.

“You know what Nick oughtta do? Join the Navy! That way you’ve always got a bed to sleep in. And when you get out your school’s paid for.”

“Yeah, he’s kind of shiftless. He doesn’t plug my blog even when I mention him in it.”

You tell your grandfather you’re planning on marrying Emily over the summer. You chat and receive sage advice. “Thanks, Gramp,” you say, as you’re getting up to go.

“Eh, Luke, what you should do is ask her parents for their opinion. It shows you respect them.”

“Actually, I’m about to do that just now.”

You decide to: