Bizarre, Unsolicited Romantic Advice To And From Dirty People

Once upon a time, when I thought it was still appropriate for one’s butt cheeks to hang out of shorts, I went to a music festival with my sister. Performing on one of the smaller stages was a girl whose lack of hygiene put mine to shame. While I confess to being chronically Unwashed, this girl was grimy- her hair hung in lank, dirty locks around her face, she wore a filthy oversized shirt, her overall appearance was one of a person who questions the utility of indoor plumbing marvels such as showers.

The music was electrical synthesizer, the kind that homeless youths might dance to at during impromptu raves in back alleys. The girls swayed back and forth on stage as though she was in her own grungy world. The performance was as forgettable as she was clean, which is to say, not at all. In the same way that I live to my name, she lived up to hers; she called herself Grimes. She brought dirt to a whole new level that I had never considered.

Grimes is a Canadian artist so she resurfaces on my radar now and again. When this happens, I always check to see whether she’s bathed in the last six months. But most recently, I paid attention to the young musician because Grimes attended the Met ball with Elon Musk. I like Elon Musk- he’s accomplishing incredible feats with his company and has his head on straight about a lot of issues; the most pertinent one being his resistance to AI. However I wouldn’t want any of my friends dating him. Grimes and I are not friends but we’re kind of in the small clique of people who eschew standard grooming habits, so, we’re compatriots in the fight against an overly sanitized and wiped down world.

Anyways during my third year of university I was dating a man who my parents called “a bad choice”. My Dad disliked this guy to the point that he let loose the most damning insult in my father’s limited repertoire- “He’ll be a poor businessman.” My mother was blunter and shared her thoughts on this young man one morning while I was leaving for work.

I want to say to Grimes what my mother said to me “Oh you poor, pungent, filthy girl, I’m sorry” actually my mother did not preface her speech with that. My mother would never say “I’m sorry” when giving these types of speeches, instead my mother merely shouted at me “Don’t call him. He isn’t going to love you Unwashed, he’s not going to marry you!” There was probably more to that sermon but I ran out the door covering my ears. No doubt Grimes would do the same, but still as a fellow lover of dirt in a world where many people shower every day (why?), I feel it’s my duty to give her fair warning.

 

Love’s Echoes

My grandfather died four months ago today. I miss him. But in a way he’s still here. Every day I’m reminded of him in the way that love subtly announces its presence.  He is the reason this blog exists. My Granddad loved telling stories and in doing so made me into a storyteller. So in writing this I’m remembering him, remembering the roots of my family.

Though my children will never have the opportunity to know my Granddad as well as I did, he has a profound effect on their lives. My grandparents were present for every major and minor event in our lives. They accompanied my family on trips, but my Gran and Granddad also took my sister and me on trips. I remember on a drive to the States when my grandfather handed a grim faced border guard a notarized letter from a lawyer stating that he and my Gran had permission to take my sister and me out of the country.

Before my son was born, I talked about my relationship with my grandparents to my in-laws often. My husband didn’t have that same depth of relationship with his grandparents. Part of that was age; my grandparents were young when I was born. Part of it was distance; my grandparents lived close. And also a question of fairly dividing attention; until I was sixteen, it was just my sister and myself on the one side whereas Tex has many cousins. There wasn’t precedent in my husband’s family for that kind of grandparent interaction.

But for my mother-in-law, Zoey, and my father-in-law Pat, my stories struck a chord. They wanted that experience with my son and daughter. To be there. To be present. To be a major part of so many of our family’s memories and to have a relationship with their grandchildren that was entirely its own wonderful entity.

So my in-laws do. My son goes for bi-weekly sleepovers. He visits their farm once a week and has routines and traditions that are his and my mother-in-law Zoey’s alone; ice cream after dinner. As soon as my son walks in the door, my father-in-law Pat sets up the VCR (For the younger generation this is an old style of DVD player.) and put’s on Mini-Tex’s favourite movie. They go out to the garden and say “Hello” to the scarecrow, and he rides the tractor and Mini-Tex takes Pat’s old fishing rod, with the hook removed, out to the boat that’s been parked on the lawn for a decade.

And I encourage it. All of it. Even the visits to the well when Mini-Tex sits up front in the truck with the airbags off. I don’t like it, but I recognize how important it is. The well and fetching water is part of my in-laws life and Mini-Tex loves being in their life just as much my in-laws enjoy being in his. I know from experience that my role in this is to stand back and let that relationship happen. My Gran still comments on this during our twice weekly phone calls- that she and Granddad loved that they were always given access to my sister and me.

I think about how much I loved and still love Granddad and then I invite Zoey and Pat to watch my son’s swimming lessons-it’s automatic. I offer for them to stop by for a quick play while they do errands in town. I send them letters and pictures of the kids when they go south for the winter. I do all of that because my grandfather taught me how to ride a bike. Because Granddad made my math homework take 300% longer because he had to explain how knots work because he sailed even though it wasn’t relevant to the question. Because Granddad used to wheel a TV into my sister and my room at their house and play the Hobbit as we went to sleep every time that we visited.

I include my in-laws every chance I get because I miss my grandfather. Every day. I feel my Granddad’s absence keenly but seeing my children receive what I had – the daily unconditional love of a grandparent, somehow takes the sting out of my grief.