“And is the guvment payin’ for that?”
“Now, jus’ who you figger is payin’ for THAT, I wonder?”
“I s’pose we all know where the money for THAT is comin’ from…”
Talking with my Grams, you know exactly where the conversation is headed. It’s headed to the same place where it’s always been headed. The path it has taken every last time it has taken a path.
I give Doctor Belloq the heads-up before the two of us visit my Grams’ place for dinner.
I say to her, “My Grams is like ‘Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon,’ only instead of Kevin Bacon, it’s Grams’ money paid out in taxes, and instead of six degrees of separation, it’s probably only one or two.”
Why, most anything you can name in this big wide world, it’s the guvment taking Grams’ money in taxes that done paid for it to be. That woman walking down the street blabbing on a cell phone. The renovations done to the house around the way. Those new Nike sneakers the neighbor kid’s wearing. And everybody down at the grocery store and every soul down at the used car lot and – would you believe it? – even my very own brother’s recent wedding.
“Miss Belloq,” my Grams says confidentially, “you know our Antony married that Negress.”
“That Negress…” Doctor Belloq echoes without comment.
“Oh!” Grams pokes dramatically at her orange bouffant, hairsprayed up into the exact same tangle into which it’s been hairsprayed up the entire twenty-eight years I have known her, and – unless photographs lie – some time before that as well. “That likely idn’t the… politically correct term nowadays, is it?”
“I always say ‘Negratrix’,” Doctor Belloq bellows in her finest Foghorn Leghorn imitation, so it comes out sounding like, “Aaaaaah aaaaalways sayeee…”
At this, I come damn near to spitting my iced mint julip sweet tea all over my platter of chicken fried chicken. But soon enough, we have departed the topic of my (Hispanic) ex’s race and gotten right back onto the topic of the guvment’s continued use and misuse of my Grams’ hard-earned retirement money.
Familiar territory at last! For you see, the feds are stealing my Grams’ Social Security checks – robbing sweet little ole Grams at gunpoint, no less! – each and every month of her life to purchase 7-11 stores for the Asians, to build mosques for the Mohammedans, to send canines up into orbit.
Dogs… in… outer… space!
“Now, jus’ who you figger is payin’ for THAT, I wonder?”
And then the there’s free flavored prophylactics for the wetbacks, and the guvmint whisky for the alcoholics, and the bathhouses like palaces for the queers (“…and when I say ‘queers,’ I am speaking of them disgusting fairies, not you two fine ladies, you understand…”).
Doctor Belloq, never one to mince words or to pull her punches for long, eventually breaks an eternal, unspoken family rule and questions my Grams about all that tax money the guvment’s been so busy stealing. “So Grams,” Doctor Belloq says, “what would you do with that money if they didn’t steal it from you?”
My Grams freezes mid-swallow, mashed potatoes halfway down her throat. Just stops right where she is. “Pardon me?”
“All that money you’ve been robbed of all these years,” Doctor Belloq says. “C’mon. Tell us. What would you have spent it on?”
For that single frozen moment in time, I consider faking a stroke.
My Grams – bless her heart, as they say – she gazes off at one of her awful paintings of horses galloping into sunsets and she says something that sounds an awful lot like, “Well, I s’pose I’d use the money to work on my time machine.”
That is what it sounds like she says. But those words would not make any sense coming from my Grams, so it cannot possibly be what she says. Right?
“Your time machine…” Doctor Belloq echoes without comment.
“You never told me you were building a time machine, Grams,” I say.
My Grams turns to look at me, slowly, stone-faced, as though I have just interrupted a most important private conversation between her and the good Doctor Belloq. She takes another bite of her food, still glaring. Then, after some more time has passed, she says to me, “You’ve never asked, dear.”
* * * * *
The time machine itself is set up between piles of dog-eared Louis L’Amour paperbacks, back in the room we all still call “Nancy’s bedroom” even though Aunt Nancy moved away years before I was even born.
And Doctor Belloq, she is now sitting in what looks to be the driver’s seat of a ’65 Mustang that has been attached to a circular track with wires and lights attached to it.
You might say the evening has taken a bit of a strange turn.
“Forward in time, backwards in time, or both?” Doctor Belloq says.
“I aim to go to the past,”my Grams says as she flips a switch which starts Doctor Belloq’s seat humming around the track. “And before you say it, yes, I am well aware of what Mister Einstein says about the impossibility of THAT.”
My Grams says, “What Mister Einstein didn’t see is… well, all you’ve really gotta do is stay right where you are while everything else runs off into the future around you. Then you can stroll on into the past just as leisurely as you like.”
“Of course,” my Grams adds, “whenever you’re talkin’ about them old Jew scientists, ‘member their experiments were all paid for at the guvment teat.”
I start flapping my hands around frantically. I say (maybe even out loud), “Did we drop acid or something before we came over here?”
No one answers me.
Still, I do not believe we dropped acid before we went to my Grams’ house for dinner, so I now find myself in the uncomfortable position of needing to amend the statement I made at the start of this blog post: Talking to my Grams, you don’t always know where the conversation is headed, after all.
Usually you do.
Most of the time, even.
The vast majority of the time, perhaps.
But despite all of that, there will always be the night my Grams told us about her time machine.
(And the next time I tell you my Grams is living in the nineteen fifties, I might mean it literally.)
[NOTE: No taxpayer funding was used in the production of this blog post. However, I did get the pictures from over HERE.]