Meet Gertrude Muchnick

Yes, that is her name, and she’s married to Herman. It’s culture, people.

Here is my Grandma Trudy celebrating her birthday… in Mexico!!!!

Just kidding, both my grandparents hate Mexicans.  Though Trudy does love a stiff margarita, I’ll tell you that much.  I don’t actually know where this picture was taken.  My money’s on Sizzler… that is, if the photo was taken before the Utensil Incident.  I’m not sure whether she’s welcome back to that fine establishment after she was stopped on her way out the door and kindly asked to remove the knives, forks and salt shakers from her purse.

I’ve only recently come to realize something that I wish I had picked up on much, much earlier in my life: My mom’s mom is a nonstop riot.  I mean, I’ve always liked her, in part because she would always sneak me drinks when my parents weren’t looking, but I never truly understood the deeper dimensions of her hilarity.  Until now.  Until the bidet.

My parents have a bidet.  Well, actually, two bidets.  The original bidet in the master bathroom got moved into the other bathroom when my father got his heart set on a newer, spiffier model.  You really should never underestimate the value of luxury toilet hygiene.  But this a whole different story.  Anyway, these bidets not only spray water onto your nether regions, but they also have blow dryers. Toilet paper? Obsolete within the next decade. Count on it.  So, a few months ago, my grandma Trudy walks back into the family room from the restroom and promptly announces, to whoever is within earshot, “I just got a free wash and blow dry!!!” 

Yikes! TMI? Too bad. Though let’s take a step back. To provide some context, allow me to first paint a picture of Grandpa Herman – the joke-telling Jew in the family.  He chews with his mouth open, snores like a fiend, and, until recently, his white, wispy hair was poorly dyed a deep, questionable red.  I’m fairly certain he patented the notoriously scratchy Wet Kiss feared by grandchildren everywhere.  His hearing has been worsening steadily over recent years, so that in order to be understood you must either shriek loudly in his direction or place your face within an inch or two of his.  Personal experience, however, urges me to recommend the former, as the close proximity required in doing the latter positions your eyes within perilous range of his ever-flying spittle.  When he walks (shuffles), Herman uses a cane, and he suffers from an impossible number of ailments – the care and treatment for which rely heavily, if not solely, on Trudy, who apparently has not yet depleted her supply of unconditional love.  Well, it’s either that or force of habit.  But let’s not be cynical!

At most family gatherings, I assume responsibility for keeping Trudy’s wine glass full to the brim – a deceptively arduous task. That frail little woman can handle her booze.  Though it’s usually around the second or third glass that her frequent, muttered asides become increasingly audible to the rest of us… and let’s just say she takes full advantage of Herman’s hearing limitations. Flashback to this past Father’s Day, as I watched from the opposite side of the kitchen:

Herman: (Sitting in a chair, waking suddenly from a short, open-mouthed doze) Trudy? TRUDY! Where’d she go? (Looking around, reaching for his cane)

Trudy: (walking in from the other room) WHAT? What do you want?

Herman: I need that medicine, where’d you put it, I can’t find it anywhere!

Trudy: You already took it, about an hour ago. (Standing in front of him, hands on her hips, impatient)

Herman: What?!  

Trudy: (Leaning down) I said YOU ALREADY TOOK IT AN HOUR AGO!

Herman: (Reassured, leaning back in his chair) Oh, I did? Well… okay. (Settles back in to resume his nap)

Trudy: (Aside) What an idiot. (Looks around the room, sees me watching, grins and winks. Herman is undisturbed)

And the (seemingly unfounded) insults just keep flying throughout the night. Idiot. Dumbass. Old bastard. Schmuck (my personal favorite).  Herman, of course, remains blissfully ignorant, while I become simply blissful.

Toward the end of that night, most of the family is seated around the coffee table in my parents’ living room, chatting and arguing, my dad probably keeping his eyes on the muted TV while nodding obligingly at my crazy uncle’s stories about Filipino women or airplanes, my mom probably running around picking up trash or otherwise refusing to sit still, though I can’t really be sure. I am too busy looking over behind the couch at Herman and Trudy, who are standing silently together, both looking thoroughly disinterested, and more than ready for bed.  Trudy is swaying a bit, undoubtedly from all the wine.

Herman turns to her and asks quietly, “How many drinks have you had tonight?”

Rolling her eyes, as sarcastically as possible, Trudy answers: “A hundred!

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One thought on “Meet Gertrude Muchnick”

  1. Quite memory you have but don’t you think that names should be changed to “protect the innocent”. Guess you know what to look forward when I become elderly. Very funny!

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