Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Time I Almost Offed My Grandfather

Note: Don't read this if you have fantastic grandparents. You just won't understand. And count yourself lucky.
Note #2: I started writing this when my grandfather was still alive. It was too good to pass up finishing the post. I'm hoping most of his problem was mental illness and things will be much better in the next life.

If the CIA decided to use my grandfather as an 'interrogation technique', they'd have to employ him in an offshore holding center: torture isn't legal in the US. Is this because he's a fighting machine? An ex-spy, perhaps? An assassin? No. It's because he talks. Non-stop. He's also racist, bigoted, narcissistic, and somewhat malicious. He has nothing good to say about you to your face, and rarely has anything good to say about you behind your back. Maybe you think I'm exaggerating and only see the worst in him? I invite you, wholeheartedly, to spend four hours with him. Dementia has made him nicer, so you won't feel the full force of his personality, but you may begin to see where I'm coming from.

That said, Dad and Grandpa and I went to the British Isles and France together in 1994. I was fourteen. We went because Grandpa wanted to see his name on the plaque at Omaha Beach on the Normandy coast of France. (His name wasn't on the plaque; he was never at Omaha Beach. The sole purpose of flying three people out to Europe that summer was to get his name on a plaque for a battle he never fought in. I mentioned the narcissism, right?)

I must have thought he'd transform into a normal person on the flight over or something. The naivete of fourteen. Before the intensive Uzbek summer death camp ten years later, it was the most miserable experience of my life. He proceeded to grievously offend every non-him person in London -- to the point where I wouldn't sit next to him on the subway for fear of being lynched by association, stuff his packs with useless (useless! and gross! See this post) items to the tune of some 90 lbs each and then expect us to carry them for him, and TALK. He talked all day long, everyday. I hadn't been subjected to the monologues for more than four or five hours at a time, so it didn't occur to me that it was possible for a person to talk that much. It's not conversation, either. In order to have a conversation, the other person has to be able to complete a sentence. No, there was no breaking in.

Relentless noise is not something I deal well with, perhaps because of him, and after, oh, say, six to seven days of this, I was at the end of my rope. Grandpa and I were standing at the edge of the subway tracks, while my dad was standing back against the wall, zoning out. No one else was in the station. All of the sudden, I thought to myself, "I could push him onto the tracks. No one would know, not even my dad and even if he did, he wouldn't say anything." I was overcome by this urge to just do it and be done with it; never to listen again, never to endure the horrid remarks, to save everyone from his cancerous personality.

I didn't. I had to physically remove myself from his side and walk to the other end of the station. He looked askance at me, surprised that I felt I could just walk away from him mid-sentence, startled by my audacity.  I got the cold shoulder for a while after that -- a blessing -- and I also didn't kill him. That's a win-win in my book.


  1. lol funny post. I can't imagine listening that much.

  2. Way to not kill your Grandfather. The funnies part, "my Dad wouldn't say anything." Tells a whole story right there.