Jillian C.

Donít Give The Elderly Spray Paint

To say my Grandpa Charlie doesn’t fit the mold of the traditional grandfather would be a colossal understatement. In the movies, the typical grandpa is serious, yet soft, reliable, and wise; he is the “rock” of the family. My grandpa on the other hand, kept his dead cat in a cardboard box outside for three weeks and thinks my birthday is in January when it is in fact in early October. My grandpa once signed my Christmas card “From, Mr. Charles Carlson”, as if I were a distant pen pal. He placed a five dollar bill in this card and then sternly cautioned me to not spend it frivolously. I heeded this advice and bought myself a sufficient supply of earplugs so that when he sets his toast on fire every morning at 5:00am, I won’t awake to the sound of his frantic yelling and the blaring fire alarm.

A particularly alarming incident occurred on a lazy, Saturday morning last August while I was snoozing in my bedroom, ear plugs intact. This time, what woke me from my pleasant summery slumber was not my ears, but my nose. A harsh chemical smell came wafting under my door and penetrated my nostrils like an angry jackhammer. I immediately shot out of bed and went to investigate where this troubling odor was coming from. I stumbled down the flight of stairs, sniffing the air and growing increasingly concerned; my watering eyes now filled with both sleep and what felt like tear gas. My superior sense of smell led me to the kitchen. There, I saw my grandfather hovering over our refrigerator, Krylon spray paint can in hand. I wondered if it was possible that I was still asleep as I studied our new royal blue kitchen appliance. I took a moment to digest what was going on, struggling to find the appropriate words for the situation, and finally came up with this: “Why?” He turned and looked at me as if the answer to why he would paint our new Kenmore blue was so obvious that I must be senseless to even ask. “It had a few scratches I simply couldn’t ignore.” Silly me for asking.

Since this incident, the list of household objects that have been so ingeniously painted by my grandfather has grown. Currently, the kitchen counters, the downstairs toilet, the mailbox, my pumpkin patch, three watering cans, and two pairs of his shoes have all become his works of art. I think perhaps what most baffles me is his incredible immunity to the fumes. The toxins would surely cause any other person to drop dead.

From what I gather from the movies, most children are taught by their grandfathers how to bait a hook or recite the alphabet. What I have learned is far more valuable than any of that trivial nonsense. I’ve learned that you should never, under any circumstances, give an elderly person spray paint.


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