More from Gram:
At Thanksgiving, my Grandmother was tasked with bringing a pie and Jello Mold (That only she eats. Because it’s Jello Mold).
Side note: The Lady made Paula Deen’s Pumpkin Pie [recipe], which was delicious. She actually made two, but we couldn’t find a box to carry both…so, we’ve been enjoying that second Pumpkin Pie between us. Good thing generic Lipitor® is on its way to the local Rite Aid.
My Grandmother has lived in a retirement community in South Jersey for over 20 years now. She still laments the lackluster food and shopping options in her area compared to the retail paradise she left behind in Paramus, NJ all those years ago.
“There’s no good [xyz cuisine] restaurant down here.”
“That place is shit.”
and most often
“Not like [that place in Paramus she used to go to 20 years ago].”
I don’t disagree — I always say the only part of Jersey that matters is north of Route 80 and east of Route 23 — and it’s still funny every time she says it. One could easily mistake the area around her development for parts of Tennessee. Still a good amount of farmland. Big chain strip malls. Nice, but not a ton going on. And, apparently, according to Gram, no place to get a decent pie.
After dinner, we resettle at the table for dessert. I sample a little of everything. Gram does the same, starting with a slice of the pie she brought. She went to a new bakery this time, “a German one,” she felt compelled to add. She takes a bite, dejectedly puts down her fork, and then asks me what I think of it.
Me: “It’s not bad!”
Grandma: [Defensively] “Ahh — what do you know about pie?!?”
Me: [Falls out of chair laughing].
I love her.
I love how defensive older people get about things from their history. And not the high-level things like “My [immigrant population] had it harder than [another immigrant population] when they first came to this country!” but mostly inconsequential things like “You don’t know what good dry cleaning is unless you’ve been to Cornwall’s on Cherry Street in Hackensack!”
And, I say older people, but we all do this, no? Older folks are perhaps just more steadfast and unfiltered in their opinions and more eager to express them outwardly. The way we’ll claim that place around the corner has the “best sandwich!” or “the best pizza!” compared to every. other. place in the world. The Lady calls me out all the time for this, saying I was “born a 75 year-old man.”
As much as I laugh, I really do appreciate not only the nostalgia, but the simple yearning for “something better.” The notion that “Pretty good is, in fact, pretty bad.” Perhaps the only thing my Grandmother is guilty of having and instilling in me is exquisite taste. In this regard, she would have gotten along famously with Steve Jobs. While some may say having such high standards for even the smallest details in life could become tedious, on the other hand, why settle? In life, especially as we grow older, may we all get a slice of the really good pie more often than not.
Speaking of jukeboxes, funny story:
I went to school in New Orleans.
One night at my neighborhood bar, I walked up to the jukebox to make a selection. As I was standing there, a girl approached me and started flirting. Someone — not me — had previously put on a Springsteen or Bon Jovi song, which started playing while we were talking. I made a comment about Jersey, where I’m from, proudly.
Her (who I learned was from Northern Louisiana):
[Sarcastically]. “Hahaha, you’re from Jersey…What, uh, ‘turnpike are you on the highway?’”
“You mean ‘What exit am I on the Parkway?’
“Oh yeah, haha…that.”
“Get the hell away from me.”
I don’t care if she was hot (she wasn’t). If you’re gonna dis on Jersey, at least get your insult right.
The pragmatic NJ Governor Chris Christie to a heckler at a political rally for California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman in Los Angeles, September 23, 2010.
Source: News 12 New Jersey