He made no apologies for acting like a little boy at times. And that’s how he got four grandsons into trouble. It all started over lunch.
Grandpa’s daughter (aunt to three and mother of one) was getting married the next day. The family had gathered from far and wide. Grandpa offered to take the four pre-teens out for a few hours. Their absence would give the stressed parents a well-earned break from the antics of four young boys compounded upon wedding planning.
Grandpa’s itinerary had just two stops, the first at a store to spend the money he’d sent each at Christmas. Then, he’d take the boys 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 boy managed to squeeze his dreams into his allotted budget, more or less, thanks in part to Grandpa’s penchant for ‘topping up’. Soon, every grandson had a suitable treasure clutched in his hands. Now, it was lunchtime.
Off they went to a nearby restaurant. The place was crowded. It took 15 minutes to get seated, and longer to get menus. The boys were so hungry they were emotionally ready to order seconds as the menus arrived. What’s complicated about macaroni and cheese, or grilled cheese sandwiches? But the server had dropped the menus and quickly left. Waiting for her to return became an endurance test. The five huddled in the booth, watching as servers rushed around delivering food to just about everyone else.
Well now, Grandpa does enjoy the company of his grandchildren. He loves them all – the babies, the toddlers and especially those in their pre-teens. He admits he enjoys most of all mixing it up with the boys. They have wrestled and tickled, and hugged, and he has played games outside with each of them. That gave Grandpa an idea.
Jon was sitting directly across from Grandpa. A cousin was sitting on each side of Jon. Another cousin, Will sat beside Grandpa. Jon placed his hands on the table, one on top of the other. Grandpa put his right hand on top of them. Jon withdrew his bottom hand and placed it on top of Grandpa’s. Then Grandpa put his left hand on top of Jon’s. The others joined the hand-stacking game. The pile of hands increased in height and then in speed… faster… and faster… and faster. Their hands finally disambiguated, and they dissolved in peals of laughter.
Ah, but they weren’t finished with the games quite yet. Hey, they were still waiting for service. Grandpa grabbed Jon’s right hand. It 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 Jon push his grandfather’s hand down almost to the table … but not quite. He pushed Jon’s hand up and then down the other way until Jon’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 were certain Jon could ‘take’ Grandpa. He was old, you know!
In a booth across from them, a twenties-something couple was enjoying the contest. The man urged on Jon. The woman wore a faint smile on her attractive face. But not everyone was enjoying the impromptu entertainment. Two elderly women in the booth next to the young couple kept frowning and clucking their mutual disapproval to one another over the spectacle across the aisle.
Back at the arm-wrestling contest, the grandsons were not to be denied. Jon recruited allies. First, cousin Joey added his right hand to the clasped hands of Jon and Grandpa. All the boys began to cheer. Grandpa had no trouble managing two opponents. The other two boys noticed. So, Casey joined the boys’ team. More cheering. Still Grandpa prevailed, but he was just barely holding his own by now.
Will was sitting next to Grandpa. He was the youngest, but big for his age. He got set to join his cousins. Grandpa called him a traitor to their side of the booth. Ignoring the criticism, Will added his hand and to the pile of hands. Grandpa’s arm began to waver, but he was holding on. Then Will stood up and put one knee on the seat, bringing the force of his weight to bear. Grandpa’s arm wavered and then came crashing down.
The boys cheered loudly. In several parts of the restaurant, people were standing to see what was going on. The couple across the aisle joined in the merriment – the young man cheering and clapping, the woman smiling indulgently. The old ladies, frowning, tut-tuted even more and readied their purses for a hasty escape from this unruly behavior.
And then, as if by some miracle, a flustered server arrived in a rush and took the orders. By another miracle, the meals arrived in record time … in just a few minutes … just as the boys and their grandfather were getting started on another contest. Imagine that!
A half hour later, as Grandpa approached the front desk to pay the bill, the cashier smiled at him and chuckled self-consciously. She knew what he was thinking – both understood exactly how to speed up service.