Big Red


I am sad this morning because my Gammie Evelyn died. Here’s a picture from when she came to Portland last month for her 91st birthday. (with Maria, Shannon Wheeler, my mom & lil’ tuxedo Max)… And an incomplete story I wrote a few months ago…

Big Red

My Gammie Evelyn drives a big red Cadillac. She calls it Big Red and it smells like Coco Chanel.

We speed all over Orange County because Big Red can handle the speed bumps and the police never stop my Gammie when she’s driving Big Red. It’s summertime, of course. It’s always summertime in Orange County because I’m on break from school and the sun is shining. It might be summer break or Thanksgiving break or winter break or spring break. It doesn’t matter. It’s summertime when she picks me up at John Wayne Airport and my Gammie says, “You’re beautiful, Ariel, but you’ve got to be kidding with that hair. Can’t you put it up? I mean, honestly.”

“You’re marvelous of course,” she says. “Do you have a beau?”

“No,” I tell my Gammie. I don’t have a beau.

And she says, “Well, not now, but soon the fellows will want to take you out and just remember, you don’t pay. When a fellow takes you out, he pays the bill.”

I am 12 years old and I listen intently because my Gammie is beautiful and she wears red lipstick and she paints her long fingernails red and she wears her hair in a bun tied with a bright red scarf as she speeds down the Pacific Coast Highway in Big Red.

My Gammie Evelyn’s house is painted coral orange.

Inside, there is soft, plush coral carpet, and in the guest bedroom soft, plush yellow monogrammed towels.

How are her towels always so soft?

On the low black coffee table in the living room there’s a big crystal bowl full of mint and chocolate candy.

How is the candy never stale?

I sit on the plush carpet in front of the coffee table and I eat and I eat and I wonder how my grandmother keeps the bowl full, how she keeps herself from eating it all when she gets up in the middle of the night to pour herself a glass of milk and bourbon.