Grandma was sitting on the couch with her arms folded over her chest as she watched a trashy Spanish TV show. She looked like she was in a bad mood, but she wasn't. She's just Grandma.
“Grandma, I need your help tomorrow. Are you busy?”
“Well, I gotta do a few things, pero, not too busy. What you need?”
“I’m doing a photo shoot, and I want you to be there to help me”
“What is dis?” She looked very confused.
“I will be taking professional pictures. PICTURES” I said it louder because she’s going deaf, and just in case she still didn’t understand, I held my hands in front of my face as if I was holding a camera.
“Ohhhhhh, de pictures. I see. I see. What I need to do?”
“I just need you to smile, laugh, act serious, mad, silly, and just be funny for the camera. Just be yourself.”
She nodded her head with her eyes closed, “Ohhh yes, I undastand.” She opened her eyes. “Make de nice face, make nice to de peoples, make eh funny. Yeah, I get it.” She said it as if she’s done this a hundred times and was not excited by being in front of the camera anymore.
“Yeah exactly. You’re always great when you see a camera. Everyo--
“But what I gotta do? I need to know ezactly what is going on. I don’t want to be in front of all de people and not know what I do. I lookeh stupid. Das no nice.” She laughed at the thought of embarrassing herself in front of a crowd of people.
“No, no, no, don’t worry about that. We will have people there who are taking care of things, so all you need to do is stand there and smile. That’s it.”
She seemed to accept this idea “Oh ok. I see.” As expected, she had her reservations, and she looked at me suspiciously.
“But wait. What this is for? Why you do this?”
“I’m writing a book, well a few books, but one of them is about you.” Her eye brows raised. “So I need to take pictures of you to go with the book.”
“So my pictures are go in de book?”
“Yes, and on my website, and also o---“
“Lemme tell you something.” She uncrossed her arms and held her crooked finger up in front of her face. “Make de books is very hard job. Very hard job.” She wiped her mouth. “I knew de man’s once in Colombia. He was make de books. De writer. Okay.” She took a pause to think for a second.
“Dis mans is eh always drunk.” She shook her head and waved her arm in disappointment. “always Drunk; in de morning, drunk in de day, in de night. Always when I see de mans, he eh smell like de liquor. Yeuck. Is eh really disgusting. Oh, and no job. Can you believe? Man has no job? So I say to him one day ‘What is wrong with you man? Why are you drink like dis?’ And he say to me ‘Because I have to be drunk to write. Only I can write when I eh drunk.’”
She leaned in to me and looked me right in the eye, “Can you believe me? Always have to be eh drunk to write? Eh so eh stupid.” She waved her hand in disgust.
I began exhaling out of the side of my mouth so she didn’t smell the Whipped Vodka on my breath.
“Yeah that’s really stupid Grandma, I don’t know why he'd need to drink all the time.”
She nodded in acceptance of my agreement.
“Okay. So de mans write de book, pero, de Spanish people no read. De Spanish peoples no read anything for nothing. Only watch de TV and de radio. Dey don’t read unless de teacher make them. Can you believe me?” She put her hand on her forehead in despair. It was painful for her to think about the general unwillingness of an entire continent to read anything unless they were in school.
“So de Spanish peoples don’t read, and de mans makeh many, many hundeds of books, and lemme tell you something, iss no cheap to make de hundreds of books. Bery espensive. And you know how many books he sell?”
She held up a crooked zero with her hand and looked away with a disgusted look on her face, then said “For NOTHING. For nothing. De mans has eh no job, no food for de family. De wife is out working, looking for de money. And de mans is at home like dis,” She did an impression of a man writing on paper with his right hand, and then taking a swig out of a bottle with his left hand. She was so spot on, she could have been doing an impression of Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Joyce, or any other famous writer who drank.
“Oh no that sucks. It’s too bad he couldn’t sell his books. It was probably his dream.”
“Eh. Maybe." She seemed sympathetic for a second, then got fired up again.
"But you gotta make de money man! You gotta makeh something good. Make sure de people want to buy. You cant just make de gahbage and expecteh to sell to every body. Iss a hard job man. Bery Hard job.” She crossed her arms again, insinuating that the conversation was over.
“Ok, well then I need you to make the pictures extra funny to make sure I sell more books.”
“Iss no prollem. I make eh funny. Don’ worry.”