Archive for January, 2022

Grambo Awakes

On a road trip with a group of women.  They were bored of me.  I decided to take off on my own, and wanted to make a case for myself with a bright idea.  I dyed millet seeds red and green, gave each color a discrete electrostatic charge, and blew it all into the wind, where it sought its proper place in the charged design I had hung in the air.  It made floating art, much like the trailing messages pulled by airplanes over wildly populated beaches and other crazily attended venues in the twentieth century of this planetary habitation.  When it tired of itself, like I often did of me being me, and fell to the ground, it seeded millet, a whole new round of greenery for the habitat to enjoy.

Then I took off for home and a new round of fanciful doings.  Why should I, having learned so much and lived so long, just give up and reconcile myself to being old?  There is too much to do, and I have nothing left but time.  I might as well have some fun.  By the way, what did the sign say?  “GRAMBO AWAKES.”

That was what I did in my dreams the night of January 21, 2022.  What I did when indeed I awoke the next morning was to remember what I had written back in 2011.  I hopped on my Microsoft Pavillion and kicked it into sentient service.  There it was!

~ ~ ~ Grambo ~ ~ ~

What the world needs is a wonder-woman.  Her name will be Grambo.  The challenge is to create a superhero based, not on a mild-mannered male with a penchant for lurking in telephone booths, but on a gloriously mature female of the species, who is coincidentally a mother of three, grandmother of seven, and great-grandmother still catching and counting.  Once a geeky kid, now an old lady, who still gets off on learning, she at last fits together the collective insights of a lifetime into her very own theory of everything.  Making a place for herself in traditional science and engineering seems at last irrelevant to her understanding of what’s what.  As she is presented with heroic challenges, she meets them with passion, intuition, and grace.  Long a trail-breaker in fields of male endeavor, turning over every rock and cow pie, questioning absolutely everything, she confronts the strictures of psychological assessment, trying to give delusions of grandeur a good name.  Always ahead of her time, she struggles with peer derision, self-doubt, and the tyranny of the normal.  She obviously has something interesting going on.  Slowly it becomes clear that it is simply what every ovarian human has in her personal tool-chest.  She is fully, unapologetically  female.  She celebrates using both sides of her brain that dance a consistent do-si-do, her corpus callosum providing a robust bridge for cross-talk.  She decides to prove that women, far from being the weaker sex, are in many ways the stronger.  Having spent nearly a lifetime wishing she were good enough, she discovers that she and her sisters are actually on the path to becoming the wise ones.  Armed with this empowerment, she leads women to redeem the men in their lives as they, finally in true partnership, move the species toward a new way to walk in beauty and balance.

Along the way, she will experience all the afflictions of age and meet them with humor, wisdom, and courage.  Joint replacements will be greeted as blessings of technology, leading to bionic inevitability.  When she finally must accept a wheelchair, it will be a jet-powered one that she rides like a wheeled steed that leaps tall buildings leaving a con-trail of haiku verse. Afflicted with the dementia of age, she in a last gasp of creativity will write a computer program that extends her viable intellect far into a functioning future of otherwise Q-signified oblivion. Death is anticipated and accepted.  She pre-writes her own obituary and designs a funerary event for the ages, wherein family is cherished, consoled, and challenged, and her grand adventure is memorialized, tongue stuck in cheek and fire stoked in belly.

This should be good for a long run of sequelae and will surely be snapped up by Paramount for a run of feature films, complete with action figures, toys, and video game franchises.  Grambo will at long last rest in peace, but not before she haunts multiple generations of progeny with reminders to follow Nike’s winning slogan; “Just Do It”.

                                                                    * * *

When first I became a grandmother, I was freaked by the whole proposition.  I agreed to the job, but only if I could have a title that guided me and my excellent progeny to a whole and healthy understanding of what it means to be an exemplary matriarch.  We shook on it.  Lissa, Brianna, and Jimmy were to address me as Grambo, or I kept on reading.  Remington and Gunner followed.  Then there was Jackson and Daisy (recently changed to Archer, a name she decided would be less limiting to her capabilities).  I have high hopes for this army of Grambo’s Grands.

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My husband Jim was big on toys.  He had nine guns, and at the time in question, three cars.  Had we been affluent, that might have played, but we were quite poor.  On that day Jim insisted that I should take the Isetta in to town since the Fairlane’s transmission was down, and he must of course have the truck.

Why did he own an Isetta?  I don’t know.  I’m not sure even he had a reason.  It was a fraught vehicle.  To get in, you must swing open the entire front of the enclosure, a door that pivoted on hinges that lined up out of any perpendicularity with gravity, which made the opening and closing of it a challenge.  Once in and seated, the task was to motivate it to proceed.  How to do anything was a question since everything was unusual—located in a unique and ambiguous place.

I figured out how to get it started, how to put it into gear, and finally how to propel it down the road.  The day’s business in town at long last accomplished, I found the weird little automobile, easy to locate, since it stuck out like a blue and throbbing thumb, perched on wheels, and waiting in the parking lot.  Twilight was gathering, so it was imperative that I locate the running lights before heading home.  There was no button, switch, lever, or any actuator at all that might facilitate illumination of progress for this very unique conveyance.  I looked simply everywhere.  By the time I was done searching, it was dead dark. 

I had four miles to go before I could park this problem and call it a day.  Home seemed a long way off.  There was nothing for it but to go.  The engine purred.  Inside the vehicle, dash lights reflected a green glow from whatever lurked inside.  That was me and my somewhat sickly face, as I piloted the odd little wheeled cube of painted metal out of the lot and onto the roadway. 

There was no moon, but I could make out road-signs if they were brightly painted.  It felt strange to roll along the asphalt, engine purring, cloaked in invisibility.  No need to fear the fuzz.  They couldn’t see me.  I was a phantom.  In town, the streetlights made all the difference.  As I pulled onto the four-lane, I decided to wait for a long space between vehicles before I committed to being there at all.  The half mile on US Route 50E passed quickly, and I was soon enough off onto Pullman Road where traffic was occasional.  County Road 74 was a tiny thoroughfare to Pullman, West Virginia, that used to be called “the nine-foot pavement,” which was a good descriptor.  When it graduated from being a dirt and gravel road to being paved, all the County would allow it was nine miserable feet of width.  It was better than mud, but not much.  Sometime in the last decade, Ritchie County had given in to constituent complaints to the extent that the byway was widened to twelve.  I was rolling down it, a dark phantom, tires quietly shussing along cold black-top.  Meeting anyone at all required that somebody give way.  I was more than ready to move off the pavement should I meet oncoming.  It was up to me, for how could approaching traffic give way to what it could not see?

Obidiah Johnson was a drinker.  Everybody knew that.  His biggest aim in life was to put off getting sober.  That would be a problem.  Nobody knew what he was trying to forget, but it must have been a doozy.  He had, long ago, lost any permission to drive a vehicle, whether highway licensed or farm-to-market.  His daily trip into town was to get liquored up.  Everybody knew that as well.  It was only after his desired state of inebriation was achieved that he would slide off his stool and slog away into the night toward home.

The evening in question was not an exception.  He plodded his way down the highway berm, took a muddy shortcut to 74 where he would enjoy the convenience of pavement all the way to warm bed and oblivion.  Once on the hard concrete, he smiled, stretched arms and vertebrae, and head tilted back, looked for the moon.  There wasn’t any.  “Oh, well,”  he acquiesced and proceeded to weave his way down the road toward home.

That was when our paths very nearly crossed.  I didn’t see him, except to watch a green tinged body of light arc away from what might have been my right fender if I had had one, and disappear into the ditch.  I did not [Slow];  I did not [Stop];  I did not pass [Go]; And I did not [Collect] anything but a lump in my throat.  Strange enough, I finally made it to [Home] without collecting anything at all—even a ticket. 

The next day Obidiah strode in for his daily round at Jake’s Bar.  It was just about the same as every other day, but there was something different—a quickness to his step that wasn’t a feature of his usual gait.  When he found his accustomed stool waiting, he claimed it with a flourish of authority.  He had something to add to the conversation.

“Gimmie my usual,” he barked, a note of confidence having crept into his usual whine.  When his pint arrived, he pulled a satisfying slurp of foam from about the rim of the mug, swallowed,  and sucked a satisfying breath.  “You’ll never guess what happened to me last night.”—Here he paused for effect— “I was attacked by a spaceship.”

Jake and the usual crew all did a double-take.  Had Obadiah flipped his lid?  They gathered round, wondering what this could be about.  He wasn’t in a hurry and spent some time thinking as he alternated between raising his pint, sipping, then settling it carefully onto the napkin,  turning it round and round as he gazed into an unfocused distance.  Then, with a bit of encouragement, Obadiah finally gave up his story: 

“I was a’comin’ home last night, when what did I see, but a spaceship a’follerin’ after me.  It went behind, keepin’ close in case I wuz to get away.  I hurried, but oh it was fast.  It kept a’gittin’ closer, ‘til it fair caught up t’ me.  T’was close.  Close as you to me.  I could see them-there critters inside—one maybe two.  Green they wuz, with eyes like you an me an a nose an a mouth to boot.  I was plum skeered o’ dyin’.  I jumped—near like unto I wuz a frog.  It tried t’ git me, but it missed.  I jumped and ran fast—faster than it could hope to grab a’hold a’ me.  It missed, and I landed in the swale down where Landen’s cow-path meets up with ol’ man Harper’s field o’ sweet corn.  I hid fer a bit, waitin’ lest the Martians git out and hunt me up and do who-knows-what ta who.  I don’t know what they wuz about, but I never let ‘em git me.  I heert the sound o’ the ship flyin’ away.  Quiet-like.  Jes’ a low growl.  Mad that it missed me and lookin’ for somthinorother somethin’ to grab onto and do whatever it was a’wantin’ to do to it.”

The group at Jake’s was accommodating and appreciative of Obadiah’s reporting.  They spent most of that night, and part of the next, asking him questions, listening to his opinions, and hanging on his suppositions as if they carried the weight of earth’s gravity newly ripped from the talons of celestial marauders.

I heard about the alien invasion next time I attended the Farm Woman’s Club monthly potluck, and was amazed along with everybody else.  I had been planning to complain to the other longsuffering wives about my husband’s penchant for collecting multiple vehicles, but decided to let well-enough alone.  How could I spoil Obadiah’s first, last, and only chance in this world to be famous?

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