My eyes were watering from the lack of sleep and the stench of cigar in the room. “You haven’t eaten anything today right?” I raised my chin a little as I spoke to ensure he knew I meant business.
“Well,” he began, scratching his head at the absurdity of it all, “I went to go eat this morning and then I saw this poster on the fridge so I didn’t.”
“Good! I put that sign there to make sure you remembered.”
He tilted his head to the side and narrowed his eyes, “Why can’t I eat?”
“Because you have a VERY important doctor’s appointment and you can’t have a single thing in your stomach.” I told him, over emphasizing the importance.
His eyebrows shot up in surprise, “Oh is that it? What time are we going?”
“Around 9:00.” I tell him.
He looks down at this wrist watch, pretending to adjust the band so I don’t know he is having difficulty reading the time. “That’s in…that’s in about two hours. Is mom coming?”
“Yep, my mom is taking you and when you are all done you can eat as much as you like!” I smiled encouragingly. It was already 7:15 am and I had been playing the role of the refrigerator gestapo since 5:30. I could almost hear his stomach growling at me from across the room.
He adjusted his position on the couch, the squeak of the old leather the only sound in the room. Waiting on an empty stomach is like watching a pot boil; it just makes you hungrier and has little concern for theory of relativity. After some thought my grandpa decided to make an attempt at conversation. “I think I’m going to take a bike ride, because there really isn’t much else to do, is there?” He looked at me, almost hopeful I’d have a better idea, possibly one that secretly involved food.
“Not much else. A bike ride might help make the time go faster!”
He looked around, lost in thought, quite literally I imagine. “I have been down in the yard all week digging at those vines.” He gestured to the front yard at a patch of weeds that refuse to kick the bucket.
“Yea, those things just won’t die will they?”
“Gosh! They sure won’t! Do you have one of these?” He was still looking toward the front yard.
“A yard?” I asked.
“Yea, a yard.” He confirmed.
“No, I live in an apartment. They don’t usually have yards.”
“I swore you had one. I just swear it were true.” He was truly befuddled by this but I can’t seem to remember a time that I’ve ever discussed having or not having a yard with him. And I most certainly never want one. I’m not much for grass or digging.
“Well you could buy one.” He seemed so hopeful, a look of excitement dancing in his eyes. At the prospect of me having a yard? Perhaps one that was better than his that he could sit in and smoke cigars? Maybe one without weeds or neighbors trying to fight him?
“It’s a bit hard to buy a yard for a building I don’t own.” I thought for a bit. I’ve never mentioned to my grandpa that I live downtown in the heart of the city. I feel like that’s a can of worms better left un-cracked. I choose my words carefully. “Plus, there isn’t a lot of space to put a yard around my building. There is mostly just streets and sidewalks around it.” Perfectly vague.
“No. The thing is I swear that you had one. And it was at this place.” He was urgently pointing East. “Right over there.”
“My mom’s house?” I asked, laughing at bit. Sure, I suppose you could say that I kind of have a yard at my mom’s house. If she’ll share…
“Yea. At your mom’s house, and you took it around. It was very dangerous too, where you took it around. Down by the sidewalk but not on it. And you went like this.” His arms were out now, held firmly in front of him as he peddled his feet furiously, trying to get his point across.
“A bike? Are you talking about my bike?” Things were getting a bit clearer now.
“Well YES! A bike.”
“You said yard, grandpa.” I couldn’t let that one pass. He was looking at me like I were completely off my rocker.
“I did?” He thought for a minute. “I did. You’re right. Well I meant bike. No wonder you were acting like a lunatic!” He smiled then and laughed. “You have a bike don’t you?”
“Yea I have one.” I avoid that topic as well. There aren’t enough hours in the day to satisfy my grandpa’s need for bike riding.
“Why can’t I eat?” His growling stomach saved me from a lecture on exercise habits and his daily trip down the “bike bath”.
I sighed, stuck partially between relief and exhaustion. “Because you have a very, VERY important doctor’s appointment. They are running some tests and your stomach needs to be empty.”
“That’s in…2 hours.” He played with his watch band. Paused and chuckled to himself. Part of me wonders for a brief moment if he knew along that we had just had this same conversation and is just playing a trick on me. Then he looks up, a deep confusion behind his eyes, “Do you have a yard?”
I smile. “I do.”