a different kind of battle.

December 16, 2009

Each new day brings with it challenges and triumphs. They are filled with memorable moments, bellowing laughs, unashamed tears, or just random jobs and duties. Today, my job is to be a wonderful granddaughter. You may think that’s a precious idea, but you have no idea just how difficult that task can prove to be.

Take getting directions, for instance. “Nanny, where are we going?” She responds confidently, “Brown Radiology.” I ask, “Where is that located?” Nanny says, “A parking garage next to University Hospital.” I picture parking spaces filled with patient beds then quickly ignore the fact that the radiology department is probably not located in the parking garage and ask, “Okay, how do I get there?” Nanny does not respond with a list of turn-by-turn directions, but excitedly states, “Walton Way.” This excited statement is no help to me because my mental map can’t seem to find the “you are here” dot. I don’t have a clue where Walton Way is in relation to our current location. Needless to say, after 3 wrong turn suggestions and one 411 call to Brown Radiology, we made it.

“Miss Jane?” chirps the brunette twenty something, who honestly can’t be that excited about taking pictures of saggy boobs all day. I giggle at her fate, tell Nanny to smile pretty, and return to finding something to pass the time.

My attention floated to the waiting room décor—chic and coffee colored—then to the chairs that were built for the patient whose butt runneth over. The awkwardness of an expanded fabric chair with wooden legs and arms frustrated me, yet secretly beckoned for me to curl up in it and read. A glance toward the TV proves my theory that every office waiting room is obligated by some unspoken contract to be turned only to CNN or some other constant news network. I am in no mood for the news, so I begin rummaging through my purse, only to be distracted and drawn in to a conversation by two men sitting adjacent to me.

I am instantly taken aback by how different they appear. One man is in his fifties and wearing acid wash jeans that create a sort of smile under his perfect beer belly. They are donned by a similar colored faded gray baseball tee with three quarter black sleeves. Printed across the front in lively, patriotic colors are the letters “U.S.A.” His jeans rise up to display tall white, ribbed socks leading to beaten up white Newbalance tennis shoes. His sunglasses are strung around his neck, and his attire is topped off with a bright red hat with a University of Georgia “G” on the front. A curly salt and pepper ponytail spills from under his hat and is a few shades darker than his predominantly white beard. His leather skin suggests he lives a blue-collar lifestyle.

Seated to his left is an older man with a sweet, genuine demeanor. He is probably in his seventies and his skin color is as pale as his snowy white hair that peeks from under a Carolina blue boating hat, complete with nautical white and navy stripes around the brim. His little square glasses frame cheeks that are drooping over high cheekbones and creating what I like to call the “bulldog effect.” His hat is a shade darker than his button down, breast pocketed denim shirt, but is a shade lighter than his denim jeans. His glorious denim suit is complimented with black orthopedic dress shoes and tall white ribbed socks.

It seems the most these two have in common is their love for white, ribbed socks. Their conversation begins by acknowledging the presence of the other with a quaint head nod, but nothing further until the news flashes to updates about fighting in Iran, Israel, and the Middle East. Grandpa looks at Acid Wash and says, “Things have gotten crazy. I can’t even keep up with it any more. Back in my day. . .” No joke. He went there. Luckily Acid Wash interrupted his memory trip with, “Yeah man, here’s what I think we should do. . .” I honestly cannot tell you what he said next. I tuned out and pictured the only thing I could—he and his two mullet headed kids strapping on their shotguns and going to the Middle East in a camouflage pick-up truck with tires that would drastically overshadow my 5’ 2” frame. Probably complete with a grill and wench bigger than the entire front end.

Mr. Acid Wash finally ends his “I’ll take care of ‘em,” trip and Grandpa responds with, “Where’s the honor in that, son?” I love how every old man feels he can call any guy younger than him “Son.” Acid Wash abrasively states, “Honor!? I just want victory! We outta just go ahead and shoot one toward Israel then we won’t have to worry about Iran. Israel will take care of ‘em. They don’t play.” Grandpa just shook his head in disappointment as Acid Wash stood and walked away.

I could tell Grandpa was upset, but I’m not sure why. Was it the fact that this guy’s ponytail wasn’t brushed correctly, or that he wore U.S.A. across his chest but hadn’t a drop of desire to uphold morals, values, and honor? My guess is the latter.

Ten minutes later a sweet lady in her sixties emerges from the back wearing black pants and a floral printed sweater. Her sweet smile immediately turns his concerned look and furrowed brow into a warm smile. However, his face falls when the reality of where he is sets back in. He asked, “What’d they say?” She responded with, “Honey, it’s too soon to tell.” Grandpa let out a sigh, nodded his head, and followed her out of the waiting room, all the while reaching for her hand and clutching it tightly.

What has his world come to? Ignorant men disgrace his country with their “victory not honor” war strategies. All the while, Grandpa is realizing that his battlefield location has changed. He used to wage war with strategy, courage, and honor on the soil of other countries. Now his battlefield is at home. . . for his wife. . . for her life. He can still fight with courage and honor, but his expression shows that this outcome is out of his hands, and that. . . he fears more than ignorant men in acid wash jeans.

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