I can’t count the number of times I’ve gotten food poisoning from eating my grandmother’s food. Wait, “Gotten” is not the right word–”been given” is more accurate. In her Stegasauric-sized brain, my grandmother was convinced that my allergy to mushrooms was, she claimed, “All in your goddamned head, Miggin.”
Countless times at family dinners at dear old granny’s, she’d serve spaghetti with sauce or gravy (or whatever the hell you want to call it.) Countless times, she’d swear there were no mushrooms in the sauce. Countless times–she lied. Countless times I’d spend the dessert course of her meal puking in her toilet. Puking even harder from smelling that nasty toilet hanging thing…..
My Sister: Nanny, did you put mushrooms in your spaghetti sauce?
My Grandmother: Yeah, I did. Miggin ain’t allergic to mushrooms. It’s all in her goddamned head.
Me: (vomit sound)
The following month:
My Sister: Nan, don’t put mushrooms in the sauce, Megan’s allergic.
My Grandmother: She ain’t allergic—she just don’t care for mushrooms is what she said.
Me: (vomit sound)
It was like a cartoon–me, as Charlie Brown, her as Lucy, telling me she wouldn’t pull the football away if I wanted to kick it. “Don’t fall for it, Charlie Brown,” come the cries from everyone. “Trust me, there ain’t no mushrooms in that sauce,” says Lucy with pin curls and dressed in a muumuu. “If you can’t trust your Nanny, who you gonna trust?” Good point. Hence, my lifelong mistrust of everyone.
My grandmother was about 4 IQ points from being labeled “special,” and one mushroom-laced, poisonous pot of spaghetti sauce away from being labeled a murderer.
I got my cooking skills from my grandmother. She had several simple rules:
1. Boil everything before cooking it—especially meat. It seals in the “flay-vahs.”
2. Leave food out at room temperature for several hours before serving, just so no one burns themselves eating.
3. If one clove of garlic is good—-52 cloves of garlic must be “bet-tah.”
My grandmother had a language all to herself. She referred to herself in the third person. “Get Nanny a beer.” Also, in my grandmother’s world, subject/verb agreement was optional–especially when contractions were involved.
I don’t, You don’t, He, she, it don’t, They don’t
Double negatives were fair game—encouraged even–the more, the bettah.
Sample: I ain’t got no books.
And the even more confusing: He don’t never come here no more. (Don’t even bother to try and figure it out.)
Monthly poisonings and bad grammar aside, my grandmother was good to me. I always had presents at my birthday and Christmas—-though if there was any sign of misbehaving by my brother or me after October 1st, we were constantly threatened, “And Santa ain’t comin’ to give you no gifts, ‘coz he don’t like bad kids.” My grandmother–Eleanore “The Threat” Muller. She did, I suppose, the best she could with the hand she was dealt. I suppose. I think I would have folded and asked for a re-deal.