When people hear me talking about my grandmother they often assume that, Utan, is some obscure word for grandmother taken from the language of some former Soviet Republic. Well, not quite. Utan is actually the name of the world’s largest crocodile, a moniker my father pegged her with after watching her consume 3 entrees and half a pizza (I kid you not…meat sweats runs in the family) one night when we took her out to dinner. Now as far as grandmothers go, she is legit the best thing on the planet. At 85, she is everything I could ever hope and dream of being; tough as nails, riotously hilarious and down for whatever life throws at her.
In 6th grade I skipped nearly two-thirds of the academic year, just so I could sit on her couch and watch Jenny Jones and, as long as I promised not to tell my mother, Jerry Springer. Once, she took me to lunch at a grocery store grand opening where we stuffed ourselves with free samples and posed for a picture with Batman and Robin, which to this day my aunt proudly displays on her fridge. Another time we were so relentlessly mocking our fellow parishioners that we were asked to either silence our fits of laughter or leave Easter Mass. We left and my mother told us we were no longer allowed to sit next to each other in church. The stories about my grandmother are about as endless as they are epic. I am not exaggerating when I say I could go on for days.
My mother, a loyal blog subscriber, recently called to tell me about Utan’s latest shenanigans and insist I blog about it. Initially, I told her to shut it, this blog is my project, thank you very much, but I love my grandma and today it came down to Utan or all the things I have in common with John Mayer. Frankly, I thought there would be more similarities between John and I than just an affinity for moose sweaters and a desire to clean our lives up in 2010. Well, there is not, so Utan it is.
In addition to being completely, ridiculously awesome, Utan has a ton of hobbies. When she is not hitting up the local thrift stores with her Pomeranian puppy, Precious, in tow she spends her time crafting and gardening. In fact, she and her friends have their very own locally renowned garden club. For the past few years, they have been in charge of the Christmas decorations at a historic mansion in my hometown. This is just as adorable as it sounds and I die of pride just typing it. Anyway, this year, they had a crew of men doing their bidding and they got to supervise tinsel placement more than they actually had to place said tinsel. Midway through decorating, Utan spies her friend, Angie, taking a break and goes to sit on the stool next to her. The problem here is that this stool is not a stool at all, but an open Rubbermaid container. Poor Utan, does not make this distinction until she is firmly wedged in the container, arms and legs flailing. Well, now she and Angie are laughing uncontrollably and they can’t get her out.
“Tip me over and I’ll crawl out,” she’s yelling. Angie, being an octogenarian herself can’t seem to flip the container over, no matter how hard she tries. Luckily, their crew sees this and hauls my grandmother to safety. She promptly dusts herself off and urges them all back to work.
The next day (THE. VERY. NEXT. DAY!), Utan, is at home hanging with Precious watching Judge Judy and hears the mail truck in the distance. As this is her favorite part of the day, she runs as fast as her little croc legs can carry her out the front door and down to the mail box. Now, there is about a foot of fresh powder on the ground, neatly heaped into an even taller snow bank at the bottom of the driveway. As Utan rounds the corner heading for the mailbox she slips and face plants into the snow bank. Again, she is unable to get herself up. I mean, there is a reason crocodiles only live in warm climates. As she struggles, legs poking out of the snow, a school bus full of children drives by. The eagle-eyed driver notices her rolling around and senses that she is not purposefully making snow angels. Being a good Samaritan he pulls the bus over and sends the students over to haul her out of the snow.
Well, at least I know why I am so spastic and struggle to maintain my dignity…it obviously runs in the family.