This Troll Is My Grandfather

20171007_120126Because he’s crotchety and barks at people for no good reason. Not really, my grandfather isn’t like that at all, for starters, he only yells with good reason. The following is an abridged and incomplete list of reasons that my Grandfather has yelled being:

  1. Making noise in the backseat
  2. Not learning how to ride a two wheeler fast enough
  3. Pinching your sister
  4. Pulling your sister’s hair
  5. Calling your sister “weasel elbows”
  6. Doing anything besides sitting silently next to your sister without touching each other at all
  7. Trying to swim in a flooded basement
  8. Yapping at the neighbour’s car (that one was the dog)
  9. Not eating the fat on a piece of meat (that was me, the dog will ALWAYS eat the fat)
  10. Showing inadequate amounts of enthusiasm for Granddad’s current interest that he is explaining to you at length
  11. Being in the wrong gear while cycling uphill
  12. Speaking above a whisper volume when Granddad has a migraine

As you can see from the list, my grandfather is both an extremely reasonable and even tempered fellow, not at all troll-like.

But yet, I’ve kept this troll doll for ages. Clearly because of its wicked hairdo; I wake up every morning with my fingers crossed that my own tresses will have formed such an awesome “just rolled out of the cave and off to bludgeon a mammoth” style of their own volition.

All joking aside, I’m not a sentimental person. Tex actually stopped me from sending my framed degree from my Bachelor of Science to the second hand shop. Yet, I’ve carted this troll doll with me across the country and through multiple moves- why? Because I love my Granddad.

My love for my grandfather runs so deep that this tchotchke and I have been together for almost thirty years. At first I kept it because it was a fun toy, then I kept it because it was terrifying and I had grand plans of playing “hide the awful troll” in the same way that my sister played “hide the beady eyed ostrich”, scaring the bejesus out of me when the ostrich surprised me in unlikely places. But most recently I’ve kept it because it represents my relationship with my grandfather.

While unpacking after our recent move, I realized that I kept the troll out of the fear of not being reminded of the stories that accompany it. This is the point in life where being a writer is almost akin to being a super hero, as I realized that I could record the memories, and find a new home for the troll doll.

My grandparents took our family to Walt Disney World. It was supposed to be just me and Diana but then my mother threw a hissy fit, stating that my Gran and Granddad had never taken her to Disney World. This was how my father, mother and uncle went to Walt Disney World. I’d say “with us” but that isn’t true, looking back at the photo album my mother has and the notes she made about the trip, my sister and I spent about 95% of our time with our grandparents while my parents and uncle shucked their parental and uncle-y duties all devil-may-care, in favor of exploring the theme parks.

The first time I visited the Magic Kingdom was with my grandfather. My sister was ill and stayed back at the hotel with my Gran while my parents went on roller coasters and drank endless shots of tequila. (That last part may be a fabrication, but they did really and truly delight in not having a five and seven year old in tow.) The wonder and joy I felt at walking into the Magic Kingdom is tied with the sense of happiness and security I felt at having my grandfather all to myself in that wonderful place. My Granddad enjoys recounting the story of me running at a wandering character and hugging them with all of my might on that day.

That trip was the first time I realized that my grandfather was a flirt. Actually, flirt is the wrong word, my grandfather is charming, utterly charming and engaging with everyone. He just makes a point of being more so with the female persuasion. Disney Cast Members all wear badges with their names. Upon returning to the hotel, I remarked to my mother that Granddad knew all of the cashiers’ names.

As much as my parents delighted in their independence, my grandparents delighted in my and my sister’s joy. They rode the tea cups with us countless times. Diana’s and my explanation to my parents upon entering the ride with them (while they were sobering up before their next tequila binge) was “You spin the wheel whichever way Diana wants, as fast as you can, until Granddad yells “I’m gonna barf!””

My grandfather loves history, especially family history. Growing up, my sister and I donned crowns with electric candles on them and would wander around family parties at Christmas delivering hors d’oeuvres. Seeing us dressed as St. Lucia and honoring our Swedish and Scandinavian heritage made my grandfather so happy that we continued to dress up even as teens if asked.

Thus the Norwegian pavilion at EPCOT, which in the early 90’s still offered unique Scandinavian products rather than all things Frozen related, was a kind of heaven for my grandfather. For starters, it was staffed with gorgeous Norwegian women who were obligated to smile at my grandfather’s stories which he imparted in detail to his blonde, cheerful listeners. The variety of Viking related goods gave Granddad many talking points to remind Diana and me of our heritage. To this day my grandfather never misses an opportunity to share the tale of our brave ancestor Stoingvald who fought to defend his country even after his enemies cut off his legs at the knees. Our visit to the Norwegian pavilion of course prompted said story, so Granddad acted out the battle with Stoingvald on the roof of his home for all the tourists and smiley Swedes.

Granddad bought me this troll that night. I kept it because I wanted to hold onto the love that I hold for my Granddad and that my grandparents hold for me. I kept the doll because it recalled a time when vacations were as endless as the hugs and attention from my grandparents. I kept it to remind myself of my grandfather’s foibles and the way they make me smile. I kept it so I would remember all those stories each time my eyes lit on the troll while in the rec room.

But love, memories and stories aren’t housed in objects, they make their homes in our hearts. It’s through retelling that the memories live on. I don’t need the troll to remind myself to retell the stories of its youth, I can keep a picture of it and pen the words it holds for me instead.

 

This post is of course dedicated to my Granddad from whom all my stories originate because he is the original storyteller of our family.

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My Friend Tom : A Fan Letter That Foams At The Mouth

I have a new obsession. And for once it doesn’t involve these girls.

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Don’t worry ladies, I still adore you, I just think about other topics sometimes now. (Photo Credit people.com)

Let’s just say his name. Tom Bricker. Or as he’s being referred to in my house currently “my friend Tom”, in the same tone that the acne covered, coke bottle glasses wearing girl who was just invited to sit at the popular lunch table would confidently and hopefully say “my friend Brittany”.

Anyway so this Tom fellow, we’re totally BFFs and by that, I mean he has no clue that I exist. Anyway my friend Tom runs a wildly popular website disneytouristblog.com. I suggest you pay a visit, even if Disney isn’t your bag. Because everyone loves good photography. And robots.

Did I forget to mention that my friend Tom is a robot? Yes he claims to be a human being with a job and the like, however in reading the Disney Tourist blog, this electronic side of him slowly became apparent.

Case and point. Tom is a lawyer. While not the most beloved job in the world, it’s a difficult one and requires a lot of education, thus we can all conclude that Tom is smart and well spoken. Robots incidentally are well spoken and extremely smart, take for example the Googles, totally brilliant and also a robot.

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You can rely on me for this one; I’m well informed when it comes to the interwebs. (Photo Credit : updatealways.com)

Now, being a lazy, layabout artist, I’m not too familiar with the rigors of being a lawyer, but the phrase 100 hour work weeks have been bandied about before. When this is considered, the fact that in addition to working full time, that Tom runs a successful blog and posts regularly, one must conclude that he is a definitely a robot who doesn’t sleep.

On top of being the world’s busiest, almost-human writer, Tom takes beautiful pictures. He takes theme parks and makes art. It’s beautiful; my friend Tom’s photos make me wish I knew how to operate my phone so that every image didn’t look like this.

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What is this? It appears to be a marine creature. I don’t even know, yet images like this appear on cameras operated by me ALL THE TIME. (Photo Credit : I wish I could say the The Drunk Unwashed but I don’t drink and breastfeed, so it’s just me and my terrible skills.)

I’d post an example of Tom’s work but that would be stealing, so you’ll just have to visit his website HERE. At first, this talent for photography made me question the whole “my friend Tom is a robot” conclusion, because robots don’t have souls and therefore are incapable of creating art like Tom’s. But then it came to me- Tom is a Martian robot. While our meager earthling robots are limited by their inability to feel the beauty of a sunrise, aliens are a superior race and thus their robots outpace ours in many respects.

Anyway, being a Martian-robot-lawyer and celebrated blogger wasn’t enough for Tom, after all, he was still getting about three hours of sleep per night or whatever it is that Martian-robot-lawyers do in the wee hours. Tom and his alien motherboard thirsted for more, so he bit the Flash. Or at least, I think that’s what happened, I mean isn’t that how Peter Parker became Spiderman? By biting? Or maybe Tom was bitten, seems unlikely given that his skin is made of Depertron the hardest element known to Martians. Regardless, some sort of exchange occurred between my friend Tom and the Flash because in addition to being a Martian-robot-lawyer-writer, Tom started running marathons. Without training. (Click the link to read about it.) And he began using all of those hours that he’d previously wasted “sleeping” each night to zip around the world. While the rest of us mortal earthlings were sleeping, Tom scaled the Great Wall of China and then he swam around Alcatraz.

Then because all of that awesome can’t be contained, it must be shared, our favourite superhero-Martian-robot-lawyer-blogger created ANOTHER website that he frequently posts on; Travel Caffeine in case any of you are interested.  With all of this busyness, I did question whether Tom was time traveling to get all of this done, but quickly rejected that idea. My friend Tom is far too generous a superhero-Martian-robot-lawyer to keep such a wonderful life changing concept as time travel to himself.

Now that everyone knows what I’ve been spending my time on, you should go check out each of my friend Tom’s blogs. I’m not greedy, I can share him. And to conclude, a message specially for my new pal; sorry to blow your “I’m a normal human” cover Tom, but it had to be done. No doubt your lovely wife will be surprised however I imagine you will quickly subdue her shock with an offer to jet her to Jupiter for your wedding anniversary.