My grandparents came to visit for Christmas. They were just back from a holiday in Torremolinos on the Costa de Sol and were “full of stories” of the place. We were 12 round the table. I was introducing my boyfriend to them for the first time.
“T’was fablus” says Granddad. “Three euro for a flagon of wine. And grand big pizzas for only 5 euro each.”
“Imagine” Gran nods to my boyfriend. “Dan we had a gorgeous time. Gorgeous. But the heat was desperate.” She beckons to Granddad across the table. “Con. Con. Will you bring me my handbag?”
“I will Helen,” he says.
Gran turns to the rest of us with a knowing smile: “Now wait till I show you our party trick. You’ll have to guess what it is.”
From her handbag she pulls a silver yo-yo object with Che Guevara’s face on the front. She opens it. Inside both sides have spikes. When closed the object can be turned either way. I have a fair idea already.
“Now pass that round,” she says gleefully. “Three cheers for anyone who gets it.” My mother goes first. She shakes the yo-yo by her ear. She opens it. She prods the spikes.
“Watch out for those sharp fellas,” warns Granddad.
She holds onto the object for a good minute longer, determined to figure it. But under duress of my aunt the Che Guevara yo-yo moves on. Another shake and she concedes that: “Christ, I have no idea.”
Onto my uncle, who doesn’t know either. My father is stumped, so is my mother’s friend. Round goes Guevara– until it gets to my boyfriend. “I know”, he shouts.
I try to stop him.
“It’s a grinder!” He looks triumphant. Like he’s just made the good impression he was after by admitting an affiliation with drugs.
“No,” insists Gran. “It’s my marijuana crusher”. She looks uncertain. Says it slowly like she’s reciting the word. “mari-ju-ana.”
“Yeah mun” confirms Granddad in a bad Jamaican accent. He picked it up in 1989 after a Royal Caribbean Cruise to Kingston. “No problem mun” he snorts at his own joke.
“What the feck are you doing with that yoke?” interrupts my mother.
“We’ve not used it, Margaret,” says Gran. “We bought this fella in a tourist shop in Torremolinos. Granddad had to ask the young girl at the till what it was.”
“And so we bought another for a woman in Ballydehob who smokes gangja,” explains Granddad. “Dope, like. She’s always at it. That’s what Jimmy Murphy says anyway.” Then he rolls his eyes and says “Christ, it’s disgraceful really. Ah it is, Helen, it is.”
“We’ve three of them actually,” says Gran. “I like to keep one in my handbag to show people, and we’ve a spare in case we lose it.”
“Yeah mun,” says Granddad. “Yeah. mun.”
Photo: Flickr, thanks to RD Imagen