Short Story - My Wacky Gran
© Dianne Bates
My gran's wacky. As wacky as they come.
You've never met a wackier gran.
You wouldn't know it to look at her.
She is wrinkled and gray-haired and cuddly plump. She looks no different from any old lady you might see at bowls, or bingo, or shopping for sour cream in the supermarket.
But my gran sure is wacky.
If you don't believe me, you can ask her yourself. Gran's face is on the front cover of Maniac Madness magazine. Then there's Wayout Wackos, Oddballs, Kooks and Crazies and Limelight Loonies – she's been in all of them.
Maniac Madness interviewed her at the zoo. She lived there for three weeks in a cage with ten gorillas on a diet of bananas.
Wayout Wackos featured her when she parachuted out of a fifty-story building wearing nothing but a bikini, a feather boa and a smile.
Oddballs, Kooks and Crazies photographed Gran diving into a bathtub of strawberry jam from the back of an elephant.
And Limelight Loonies ran a story about Gran's trip down the great Williwally Waterfall in a bathtub.
Gran has the weirdest adventures. She is also a wonderful storyteller. Her stories fascinate me like no others I've heard.
After dinner, I crouch at her feet in front of the fire and Gran tells me of her most recent adventures.
First she tells me about the time she climbed the tallest mountain in Alaska. Mount Spurr is an extinct volcano – or it used to be! After Gran climbed it, it erupted in a terrific explosion that closed the city airport for three days.
"They said no one in their right mind would climb Spurr and get away with it," Gran says. "Especially someone wearing shorty pyjamas."
Gran's pyjamas are blue cotton with pictures of bunnies on them. They're kind of cute, but not the sort of thing to wear when it's fifty degrees below zero.
When she reached the top of Mount Spurr, Gran ate twenty-three tubs of Neopolitan icecream in 10 minutes 33 seconds. It earned her a place in the record books.
Her hands are behind her back and I can't see if her fingers are crossed. I think she's telling the truth.
"Gran," I say, "tell me the truth. Did you really climb Mount Spurr and eat that much icecream?"
"Would I tell a lie, dear?" she asks.
Gran tells me that as an experiment she sat in a glass tank covered in honey and let a zillion ants run over her. Then they let in an ant eater. It licked Gran all over. Her hands and feet were tied so she couldn't fight the ant eater off.
It licked her face, it licked the back of her neck, it licked the inside of her ears. It even licked the soles of her feet.
Gran stayed inside that cage for 6 hours 35 minutes and 12 seconds till that ant eater has swallowed every single ant and licked every last drop of honey.
I ask Gran if this is true.
"Would I tell a lie, dear?" she says. "Of course not."
My gran's wacky. As wacky as they come. You'd have to be wacky to sit on a flagpole for five days and five nights without once coming down – not even to go to the toilet. And that's what she did, so she tells me.
A storm was raging the whole time. Rain fell in buckets. But that didn't bother her.
Lightning zipped all around. That didn't bother her either.
To keep herself amused, Gran played "Raindrops keep falling on my head" on her bagpipes with one hand. With the other, she knitted a red, white and blue scarf to wear to the footie grand final. The scarf was five kilometres long. It earned Gran her second entry into the record books.
"This can't be true," I say.
"Would I tell a lie?" she replies.
You've got to believe her. I mean, she's been in all those magazines. And grandmothers don't lie, do they?
So you see, my gran is really wacky. So wacky she spent a weekend at the Nothing But A Smile Nudist Camp.
"You didn't really spend a week at a nudist camp, did you?" I ask.
"It was a great weekend," says Gran. "The funniest of my life."
"Did you really take all your clothes off?" I ask.
Gran does some weird things. But surely she wouldn't appear naked in front of dozens of strangers. Not at her age. I look at Gran. Her face is sweet and she smiles like an angel who's just done her good deed for the day. She looks like she's telling the truth.
I think how I'd hate to walk around without any clothes and have everyone stare at me. "Look how skinny he is," they'd say. "He's so skinny you could slide him under a door."
I'd be so nervous my knees would knock together. My lily-white skin would turn purple with embarrassment. I wouldn't be able to do anything – like eat or play games – because my hands would be cupped over you-know-where. And I wouldn't know where to look!
"What's it like being in a nudist camp?" I ask.
"There are all sorts of bodies," Gran says. "Tall bodies and short. Lean bodies and fat. White bodies and tanned. Young bodies..."
And Gran's body, wrinkled and pale like a white prune. I can just imagine it!
"Weren't you embarrassed?" I say.
"Not a bit," says Gran. "All sorts of people were there. Even the Tigers."
Not the Tigers! My favourite footie team in the whole wide world!
"What were they doing at Nothing But a Smile?"
"They were in training. As a matter of fact, I helped them with their training."
"I did indeed," says Gran. "I helped them build up strength for next Saturday's Grand Final."
"We had a game of tug-o-war. I challenged them. The whole Tigers team plus the coach and the manager – against me.
"It wasn't an easy contest, I can tell you. They're pretty strong those Tigers.
I can see them now. Slugger, Mugger, Hugger, Tipper, Nipper, Ripper, Cruncher, Muncher, Puncher, Crusher and Musher, Gottcha and Grabbem, Coach Whacker Nonslacker and the manager, Mangles McGee. Hefty guys, all of them. Bulgy muscles in all the right places. And true grit to match.
"I faced them and they faced me," Gran says. "And it was on! Well, I tugged and I puffed, and I puffed and I tugged. They puffed and they hauled, they panted and they pulled. For over an hour.
"We were pretty evenly matched, but I kept on tugging and puffing, puffing and tugging.
"They kept on huffing and hauling, panting and pulling. Neither of us would give a centimetre.
"I looked at the Tigers. Their faces were red and creased. They were huffing and pulling, panting and pulling. Then they began to turn purple. Right from the tops of their heads all the way down to their toes. And that's when I knew I had them beat.
"I gave one last almighty tug," she continued. "The Tigers couldn't handle it. They whole team, the coach and manager went flying. They landed on their bottoms, then their great hairy bare bodies went rolling down the hillside head over heels. . Slugger, Mugger, Hugger, Tipper, Nipper, Ripper, Cruncher, Muncher, Puncher, Crusher and Musher, Gottcha and Grabbem, Coach Whacker Nonslacker and the manager, Mangles McGee."
"Gran," I say, "tell me the truth. Did you really pull the whole Tigers team, their coach and manager over?"
"Yes, indeed dear," says Gran. "Just like I'm pulling your leg with this story."
Not only is she wacky, my gran. But she's the best Tall Tale Teller this side of Mars. She fools me every time.