Thursday, February 25, 2010

Hey buddy! I'm having Kentucky Fried Emergency!

My late grandfather was a virtual treasure trove of comic gold, and I've been trying to write down  as much as I can before I forget it all or worse, it gets distorted  beyond recogniton.  One of the my brother's favorites was the tale of the time when I came out of the gym to find seven missed calls on my phone from my grandfathers house, and six voicemails.

My grandfather was in his mid 80's at the time, and living with his two nonagenarian brothers-in-law in two family house in Waterbury's North End, which is not exactly Shambhala.   Missed calls from my grandfather were pretty normal, as I did sort of spoil the guy during his last few years and he'd lost the concept of my having a schedule beyond his needs.  But more than one was odd and leaving messages beyond "Aw, you're there. God damn it." was really unusual.  My mind started inventing scenarios where one of the trio of old creakers was in mortal peril (the Peter Parker guilt complex I carry around worsened this feeling by playing the "Nice. Off pushing around weights while these guys needed you" card), holding on for dear life while waiting for me to arrive, as calling an ambulance is off the table.

I tried calling back but the phone was busy, so I started playing the messages while heading to my grandfather's house. The first was very solemn.  "Hey Tiger, Give Gramp a call right away.  It's really important".  I instantly got a pit in my stomach, imagining Uncles Mike or Joe being zipped up in a body bag.  The next few were of the sigh and hang-up variety.  Then there was a "Where the hell are you, buddy? Call me right away!".   I dialed my grandfather again, and finally, he picked up. 

With my heart racing, I asked " Gramp, what's wrong?  Who's dead?  Are you OK?" which I'm sure came out as   "watzronghoozdedareyouOK?".  
He said "I'm glad I got a hold of you, man" I steeled myself for the worst when he said "Mikey and I were wondering if you could go to KFC and get us a bucket?".
I paused and said "You called seven times for fried chicken???"
and he said "Yeah!" and I swear he chuckled a little. 
With thoughts of driving over and choking them flashing in my mind, I asked "Why didn't you leave THAT  as your message?"
And he said " You know, I shoulda' done that."
I had one follow-up "Why didn't you try calling Steven?"
He said, as though it were the most logical thing in the world, "I didn't want to bother him".

I sighed, shook my head, took his order and went to KFC (somewhat comforted by the idea that a bucket lasted a week with those guys).  Afterward, all I could do was laugh, because when you think about it, a chicken emergency is damn funny.

Just to further the point, this is the same man with whom I had the following exchange..

"Hey Tig!"  said Al in a weak sounding voice
 I answered "Yeah, Gramp. What's going on?" adding "You sound like hell, man."
 He replied with "Oh man. I'm having chest pains.  What should I do?" (It should be noted that he'd had several heart attacks and quadruple bypass surgery)

I choked on my coffee and yelled " What do you mean?!?  If you're having chest pains, call 911!"
He groaned back "Aw man! But I want you to take me? Why can't you?"
To which I explained "Because I'm a half-hour away, and then you'll be in the ER waiting room.  I don't want you stuck there for 3 hours with chest pains. Just call the fucking ambulance and I'll meet you there."

And with that he gave a resigned " All right." and hung up.

I bet he'd have had no problem calling 911 for a bucket of chicken.  Then again, maybe he would.


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