Granny Grinch and the Wobbly Waterbeds

I love being around people who are so comfortable in their own skin that they glow with their own “fabulosity”.  I yearn for that kind of self love and acceptance.  Imagine for a moment that, right now, you can let go of all of the expectations and “shoulds” and identities that someone else put on you.  What if all of that melted away, and you got to just be YOU …glorious in all your you-ness?

I have lived a long life of worrying WAY too much about whether other people judge me to be “worthy”.  Worthy of what, I don’t actually know – just taking up space on the planet, maybe?  Breathing their air?  I don’t think I’m alone in this.  In fact, I think it might be kind of common.

I dream of being able to completely let go of the need to prove my worth or feel like I have to “earn” my right to be here.  What a relief it would be, to no longer feel the onus of other people’s experiences of me.  To truly realize that I have neither the power nor the responsibility to ensure that someone else likes me or is “OK” with who or what I am, or what I say or do.

Letting Go

I’ve been working on letting go, and the more I let go of fear and allow myself to be vulnerable and honest, the more connected I feel.  The more genuine those connections are, too! I’m not trying to be something that I’m not just because of some mistaken notion that what I AM is not acceptable or lovable, or worse, is annoying!  

AND – I’m not responsible for the happiness and well-being of every single human that I meet on the street.  If I do something that is actually wrong or harmful, I am responsible for that – otherwise, it is pure hubris to “own” other people’s experience of me.  I have as much right to be here as the next person…so maybe they can get out of MY way once in a while!

HOW Am I Always In The Friggin’ WAY???

When I let myself leave the house,  I walk around the world as if I’m in everybody’s way most of the time.  This has always been true – thin or fat, in a crowd or with just one other person – I’m “in the way” and an annoyance.  I recognize this is my own filter, and I have created this experience for myself…but it’s still friggin’ annoying.

Crowds are a nightmare.  The grocery store is frucking HELL…I spend the entire time just trying to get out of the way, which is impossible, so by the time I’ve been in there for 5 minutes, I’m exhausted and overwhelmed because they JUST KEEP COMING.  I have tried grocery shopping at 2 a.m., just so the place would be empty – but it’s NEVER empty, and somehow if there is only one other person there, I still manage to be in their way!

I Just Want To Feel World Peace

In Anne Lamott’s TED talk she said:  “Being full of affection for one’s goofy, self-centered, cranky, annoying self is home.  It’s where world peace begins.”

When I imagine “being full of affection” for my goofy, weird, often silly, definitely neurotic and messed up self – it makes me feel like crying.  The relief I feel about letting go of all the “shoulds” and “not good enoughs” and “in the way”-ness is overwhelming. The idea that I could allow myself to look at myself with the same indulgent affection that I felt for, say, my grandmother – who was WEIRD, and LOUD, and so very silly and (to my parents) very annoying – well, that idea feels like a hug from my favorite person.  

My grandmother – now THERE was a woman who occupied her space with presence and ease and a sense of self that I’ve yet seen matched by another human being. 

Granny Grinch Was “A Battle Axe”

She was short and wore her straight, dark hair in a short pixie cut.  She couldn’t be bothered with the upkeep of any more hair than that, as she had a lot of interests and there just wasn’t enough time in the day for silly stuff like curling hair.  She wore bright, colorful clothes, weird green colored slacks or skirts and flowing tops with bright colorful flowers – ALWAYS flowers.  Roses if possible, but any kind of flower would do in a pinch.

My father called her “Granny Grinch” and she smoked and drank martinis from which she saved the olives for the next drink until Friday.  Fridays were worthy of celebration because she let herself eat that week’s olives. She was very fond of the saying “It’s 5 o’clock somewhere in the world”, and had a career at a time when it was frowned upon for women to work.  

Granny Grinch was an accountant, and I remember my dad referring to her as a “battle axe”, which made no sense to me but made her laugh and laugh.  I had the impression that the people in her office were afraid of her, and that she liked that. She was really, REALLY smart, and she talked a lot and laughed loudly and often.

She was demanding, and would always ask for exactly what she wanted at restaurants, and would calmly complain if she didn’t get it.  On the other hand, if she was treated well, she would praise the wait staff profusely and loudly, insisting on talking to the manager in either case. My mother was embarrassed by how my grandmother showed up in the world…and I secretly reveled in that.

Who IS That Mysterious Woman?

My grandparents lived in New Jersey and we lived in Colorado, so we would only see them once a year.  They would fly in to see us – and this was at a time when you could still meet the plane at the gate!  My grandmother was terrified of flying, so she would start drinking before she got on the plane, and keep drinking through the whole flight.

The best part was that she always traveled “in disguise”.  She would walk off the plane and try to get past us at the gate without being recognized. She would wear huge wigs and gaudy sunglasses and walk right by as if she had NO idea who we were. 

My grandfather always trailed far behind, so as not to give away her identity.  He was tall and lanky and always wore a “gentleman’s cap” and smelled of pipe tobacco.  He reminded me of Jimmy Stewart, and he was gentle and kind and loving.  Meeting them at the airport was the best part of my year.

So Granny Grinch would sashay on by us, and we would always identify her, of course.  We would chase her down and fall on her with hugs and giggles, and she would laugh and laugh.  Looking back on it, I now realize that she was “three sheets to the wind”…but then, all I knew was that she was a sign of freedom and joy.

So, What’s That About Waterbeds?

*sigh* I really loved that “mystery woman” game.  🙂  My absolute favorite memory of her, however, involves wobbly waterbeds.  

We were in a shopping mall and had to walk through a store that sold waterbeds, to get from the parking lot to the inside of the mall.  My mother was trying to shepherd 3 kids and my grandmother, quietly, through the store – desperate to make it all the way from the outside entrance to the mall without having to talk to a sales person.  

Granny Grinch had other plans, however, because she reeaaally liked those waterbeds.  She would giggle and cackle gleefully at how they wobbled and jiggled and sloshed when she poked them.  She got the idea in her head that it would be absolutely the most fabulous thing EVER if we could get all of the waterbeds in the whole store sloshing in unison!  

So she planted each of us kids in different sections, and we raced to poke all the beds and get them really sloshing, all at the same time.

I thought my mother was going to die on the spot, she was so mortified.  My grandmother, on the other hand, was laughing hysterically and practically skipping from one bed to the next, trying to keep the sloshing going.  When the salesperson asked us to leave, it almost put my mother into an early grave.

Granny Grinch just chortled, her HUGE purse draped over one arm and her other hand on her flower bedecked belly.  She was just SO satisfied! I thought she was magic. What freedom, to have fun and be silly IN PUBLIC…and to annoy my mom like that and find it FUNNY!  We only got to have that kind of fun when Grandma was around, because she was the only person on the planet who wasn’t afraid of my mom.

Who Gets To Sit Next To Grandma??

My grandmother smelled of alcohol and cigarettes and perfume and I loved it even though it kind of gave me a headache.  I loved to sit next to her in the back seat of the car because she would put her arm around me and tell me to “put my head on her boozy” (her bosom) and take a nap.  She would pat my arm and sing songs about drinking and taverns and roses and “Henry the VIII” (Iiiii’m Henry the 8th I Am – Henry the 8th I am, I am… Second VERSE , SAME as the first!)

I never actually fell asleep that way (I was already pretty tall, so it was actually very uncomfortable!) but gawd it was nice to have that affection and warmth. As I got older I marveled that this woman – my mother’s mother –  could be so weird and loud and loving and affectionate and live life SO on her own terms.

Granny Grinch Had It Right All Along

Now, in my early 50’s, I realize that my grandmother is a perfect example of how I want to live.  OK, not exactly…I have no desire to smoke OR drink, strangely enough. Both things make me feel kinda sick!

My grandmother loved herself and felt completely at home in her own skin.  She was quite comfortable with who and HOW she was.  Despite other’s opinions that she was too loud, or too assertive, or too BOSSY, or just TOO MUCH…she was kind and generous and unaffected by others’ opinions of her.  

So starting now, I choose to “take after” my Granny Grinch.  I hope the martinis are perfect in whatever dimension she currently occupies.  I might have an olive this Friday, in her honor.  Heck, maybe I’ll make olives my Friday “thing”, just to remind myself that having affection for oneself is a really grand way to live.

Join the Conversation