Sunday, December 29, 2013

Bad Grandpa and the broken angel

I'm well aware of the old saying, “fish and visitors stink after three days.” I've been a visitor in Pennsylvania for eight days now, with four more to go, and I have tried to avoid stinking up the place by being as unobtrusive as possible, not being a burden on my hosts.

Yesterday to my horror I committed a faux pas by breaking a piece of statuary that was on the fireplace mantle. It was of an angel. The family members are practicing Catholics and their home has some religious themed artwork here and there. I was up and dressed before the rest of the household on Saturday morning, so I went to the living room to write on my laptop. I saw a safety pin on the floor by the fireplace. Without thinking I bent down to pick it up and when I stood up my shoulder hit the mantle, the angel hit the tile floor and in seconds was in a thousand pieces. I cleaned up the mess and waited for the folks whose hospitality I had so horribly abused to get up. When they did I showed them the garbage bin with the remains of my transgression and expressed my dismay. Basically, they just blew it off. “No big deal. No need to feel bad.” It didn’t help. I still felt bad.

My grandchildren, Bella (9) and Gabby (7 1/2) were eating their breakfast. “Why didn't you catch it?” Gabby asked, innocently. Her mother jumped right in with an admonition to her to be polite to Grandpa.

“We broke that once,” confessed Gabby.

There is a double standard. If a kid breaks something there is often a punishment. When an adult breaks something they can usually get off with a mea culpa and a heartfelt apology.

(This is one bad luck angel. My wife, Sally, told me she had knocked it over one other time and broken something off which she repaired with super glue. My son David later told me when the kids broke the angel he replaced it out of a catalog for $30, and perhaps I could do the same.)

The kids went back to their room to play. Sally, to whom I had confessed my error, had gotten up and dressed, and went to the kids’ room to wish them good morning. When she opened the door Bella said, “Grandpa broke the angel! He broke its head right off!

Sally said, “Yes, and he feels really bad.”

Gabby said, “Bad Grandpa!” then added, “...and once again, victory is ours!”

Bad Grandpa is the name of a movie, and the title fit the situation. The “victory is ours” I recognize but don’t know where she got it. Maybe she read it in a book, or saw it on television. Maybe she recognized what I just said about the double standard on breaking things, and her comment was aimed at that. It cracked us up, though.

Something I may not have mentioned before in this blog is my overall klutziness, which comes from having my hands or feet move before engaging my brain. I have tried to correct this serious flaw, but occasionally it revisits me.

For the balance of our visit I will attempt to do what I do in antique stores: keep my arms at my sides and think before reaching for anything. And my hope is that after we leave in four more days our kind hosts won't turn to each other and say, “Fish and visitors...”


Kirk said...

I think if I had to choose between a guest breaking something in my home, and me breaking something in someone else's home, I'd choose the former. Not because I like my things broken, just that being the perpetrator is much more mortifying to me than being a victim.

On Christmas, I saw my niece, nephew, and three other kids whom I guess are related to me through marriage running through the house I was at like crazy. Amazingly, nothing got broken.

Postino said...

I feel bad enough about what I did that I left some money in a card thanking them for their hospitality, and telling them to replace the statue on me. I don't want any resentments following me. I am in complete agreement with you...someone breaks something in my house it is an accident...I break something and it embarrasses me no end.