I would like to apologize to our grandmother for the most recent issue. Crass Sophisticate is a family collaboration. Josh and Justin are indeed cousins, and Margerie from the Sugar Shack issue is inspired by our actual grandmother. As the youngest and most sensitive member of this family collaboration I feel it fitting to at least defend Grandma a little. Also, I’m the only one who knows how to use the website. (Oh, and as of this posting, Grandma’s still alive, too. I don’t imagine there will even be a funeral, much less a will or anything to leave behind.)
When we think of the elderly, we tend to think of two stereotypes. There’s the “grandparent” stereotype: the caring, elderly person who raised your parents and suffered through a lifetime of hardship that resulted in a calm, patient, and generous personality that spoils you, provides you with nuggets of wisdom, and understands that the secret to happiness is in giving to others.
There’s also the “crazy old person in public“ stereotype: the slow-moving, bitchy, hunched-over octogenarian arguing with a retail clerk about the lack of quality in an intentionally low quality product. These people also suffered through a lifetime of hardship but their experience has made them bitter and angry at the world. These people send the impression that they deserve special treatment and apparently are incapable of sympathizing with anyone. However, some of those “old people” are also grandparents. It was always my belief that the crazy old lady asking for an item that doesn’t exist acts completely normal around her family.
Our grandmother was indeed a crazy old lady.
However, that opinion statement expressed above was instilled into me at a very young age. My father spent his entire lifetime forming his opinion about Grandma and was certain to share his point of view with his children. We were raised to believe Grandma was insane, and so it was so.
During holidays, Grandma was nothing more of a cursed piece of furniture; something fixated in a room that was to be avoided at all costs. We were raised with manners, so other than a quick hug and kiss hello upon arrival, we would let Grandma sit on the couch, arms resting in her lap, nodding her head along with an imaginary conversation while her entire family ignored her.
It was well-known that Grandma LIKED attention. However, she learned to get attention by speaking of her ailments. Usually when you ask an elderly relative how they are doing, they respond with “Oh, I’m getting by…” or something vague and would then turn the conversation away from themselves. If you were to ask our grandmother how she was doing she responded with “Oh, I’m in real bad shape, real bad” and then go on to explain how she’s blind, deaf, and in constant pain.
From my personal experience, I’ll admit Grandma did make a minor effort. She brought presents for birthdays and holidays. But the presents were always terrible and she would often confuse our names. She also found ways to not only spell everyone’s names incorrectly, but produce a spelling that made us doubt whether she knew our names at all.
This post is sounding less and less apologetic. Grandma is partly responsible for giving me a great deal of joy… at her expense. My fondest memories from adolescences involve my cousins making fun of Grandma RIGHT IN FRONT OF HER. Brett’s favorite holiday game was a crude version of “Would You Rather” that involved asking his cousins if they would rather fornicate with Grandma or a male member of our family. It was a disgusting display of disrespect that made me laugh until my jaw ached.
To be fair, Justin and Brett lived much closer to Grandma and witnessed the “crazy lady in public” first hand. The story about returning a banana is legendary, along with Justin receiving a can of pineapple for a gift because one time Justin mentioned that he liked pineapple. Very few memories can bring a bigger smile to my face and I have Grandma to thank for that.
As I matured I did make an effort to get to know Grandma a little better. Because she never asked about our lives, I made an effort to ask about her’s. She would tell me stories of growing up on a farm that started out sweet and ended with a distant family member shot or hung in a barn. The other stories were also non-coherent and would often involve Grandma laughing to herself.
Well, at least I tried to apologize. To set the record straight, “Sugar Shack” is a work of fiction. I find it disgusting that Josh and Justin chose to fictionalize Grandma’s sexual history, but both of them are pretty fucked up.
The issue next week is also inspired by true events. Justin switches from alcohol to marijuana and Josh attempts to win him back.
Stayed tuned and stay crass!
From left to right: Justin, Brett, Jarett, and Josh