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Their aunt was getting married the next day. Grandpa offered to take the four pre-teen boys out for a few hours. It would give the stressed parents a break.
The plan was to make two stops. The first was at a store to spend money he’d sent them at Christmas. Then, he’d take them for lunch. The spend-and-eat thing was Grandpa’s favorite outing with his grandchildren.
The shopping was hilarious. It took a while for the boys to get focused – the ‘kid in a candy store’ thing. Finally, each managed to squeeze his dreams into his budget, thanks in part to Grandpa’s ‘topping up’. Soon, each had a suitable treasure clutched in his hands. Then it was lunchtime.
Off they went to a nearby Denny’s. The place was crowded. It took 15 minutes to get seated, and longer to get menus. The boys were ready to order within seconds after the menus arrived. What’s complicated about macaroni and cheese? But the server had left. Placing the orders became an endurance test. The five huddled in the booth, watching as servers hustled around delivering food to just about everyone else.
Well now, Grandpa enjoys the company of his grandchildren. He loves them all – the babies, the toddlers and those in their pre-teens. He admits he enjoys most of all mixing it up with the older boys. They have wrestled and tickled, and hugged and play games outside. That history gave Grandpa an idea.
Jamie was sitting directly across from Grandpa. A cousin sat on each side of him. Another cousin, Robert sat beside Grandpa. Jamie placed his hands on the table, one on top of the other. Grandpa put his right had on top of them. Jamie withdrew his bottom hand and placed it on top of Grandpa’s. Then Grandpa put his left hand on top of Jamie’s. The others joined in. The stack of hands increased in height and soon in speed . . . faster . . . and faster . . . and faster. Their hands finally disassembled and they dissolved in laughter.
But they weren’t finished the games quite yet. Hey, they were still waiting for service. Grandpa grabbed Jamie’s right hand. The grip was familiar – their arm-wrestling mode. They’d done it many times. Their clenched hands wavered back and forth. Grandpa always faked it. He let Jamie push his hand down almost to the table . . . but not quite. He pushed Jamie’s hand up and then down the other way until Jamie’s hand was almost at the tabletop. Then he let it come back up to the middle. The other boys understandably were cheering their cousin. They knew Jamie could ‘take’ Grandpa. He was pretty old, you know!
In a booth across from them, a 20’s-something couple was enjoying the contest. The man cheered on Jamie. The woman wore a smile and a patient understanding look on her attractive face. But not everyone was enjoying the impromptu entertainment. Two older women in the booth next to the couple kept frowning and clucking their mutual disapproval to one another.
Back at the arm-wrestling contest, the grandsons were not to be denied. Jamie recruited some allies. First, Bradley added his right hand to the clasped hands of Jamie and Grandpa. All the boys began to cheer. Until now, Grandpa had no trouble managing the two opponents. The other two boys noticed. So, Colton joined the boys’ team. More cheering. Still Grandpa prevailed, but now just barely. No faking it now. Dustin was sitting next to Grandpa. Dustin was the youngest, but big for his age. He got set to join his cousins. Grandpa called him a traitor to his side of the booth. Ignoring the criticism, Dustin added his hand and considerable weight to the pile of hands. Grandpa’s arm was wavering, barely continuing to hold its own. Then Dustin stood up and put one knee on the seat, bringing the force of his weight to bear. Grandpa’s arm wavered, then it came crashing down.
The boys cheered. The couple across laughed and the young man joined the cheering. The old ladies frowned and tut-tutted even more. As if by some miracle, a flustered server arrived in a rush and took the orders. And another miracle: the meals arrived in record time . . . just as the boys and their grandfather were getting started on another contest.
Eventually, when Grandpa arrived at the counter to pay, the cashier smiled brightly at him and chuckled self-consciously. She knew what he knew about how to speed up service.