I think an electronically savvy Grandmother is perhaps the third scariest thing I’ve ever written.
I could avoid my mother’s calls all day, but that wasn’t an option with my grandmother. Augusta Carrington-Benoit is more Big Bad Wolf than Red’s grandmother. She used a computer better than most people I knew, not only had a cell phone but texted frequently, and lived more in a day than anyone half her age. As her eldest grandson – and one of the only ones she claimed to like – she took a firm hand in my life.
One of the first things she taught me was how to avoid eye contact. “Your eye should always circle the room,” she would say. “You never know who’ll be next through the door.” Grandmother never looked anyone in the eyes if she could help it. Except me – and only when she wanted to impart great wisdom. “Liars look you dead in the eye,” she would add. “Never give them a chance. And never trust a sincere man.”
The first time Grandmother calls – and I’m to call her Grandmother, or Augusta if she’s feeling particularly ancient – I answer immediately. I’ve barely been gone for an hour, so I can’t figure out how she knows already.
“Your mother is concerned,” she says. I tuck the phone against my shoulder and start winding up my iPod.
“I’m leaving now. I’ll call her and let her know.”
“Oh, don’t do that,” she snaps, but I know this dismissive tone of voice. Her irritation is with my mother, not me. Just because polite society ignores my mother’s growing alcoholism doesn’t mean Grandmother will. “Its not as if she’ll recall in the morning.”
My mother is the very definition of a disappointment, if you listen to…well, anyone. The only thing she did right was to marry my father, who was all Grandmother could have wanted and more. Perceptive, ambitious, diligent: all the qualities my mother lacked. I think Grandmother resented her for wanting to be nothing more than a housewife.
The next thing I know, Grandmother invites me for dinner. Calling it an invitation is a vast overstatement, but I accept without argument.
“Good,” she sniffs. “You look too skinny. Don’t think I haven’t seen your Facebook pictures.”
Yes, my grandmother Facebooks.