I had dinner with my parents, my grandparents, and my great uncle tonight. My grandmother asked me what I wanted for my birthday. My mother said she was proud of her because she didn't even have to remind her that it was my birthday soon.
"I want you to write in the journal I gave you," I told her.
"What journal?" she said.
"The spiral bound one," my mother said.
"With the waves on it," I added.
She scrunched her face at me. "But, I have nothing to write!" she said. "I don't do anything interesting."
"No," I explained. "I gave you a journal and I wrote a question on every page. All you have to do is answer the question."
"Oh, okay," she said. Suddenly, it is not such an insurmountable task. "How many questions are there? Is it a hundred pages?"
"It's probably more," I said. "But, there's not that many questions. There's a list of questions I'm using from a website."
Dinner progressed and after ten minutes or so, my grandmother asked me what I want for my birthday again. I repeated that I just want her to write in the journal. The same conversation occurred, almost verbatim. I'm used to having this conversation with her, only it's usually not in relation to a birthday present. Every week that I have dinner with them, I ask her to write in the journal, she acts overwhelmed and refuses to do the task, I explain that she only has to answer a question on each of the pages, and then she agrees.
My mother then started quizzing my grandmother about when we are having dinner for my birthday. It became obvious that she was just shouting days and times that might make sense.
"Saturday!" she shouted. "Five! Five-thirty! Six!!!"
I tried to explain to my mother that I don't bother anymore trying to get my grandmother to remember things that are not recurring. It's no use. My mother was insistent on continuing with her test. I'm just happy that my grandmother seems to remember now that I come over for dinner on Tuesdays. There was another interesting exchange where I discovered that my grandfather has been cutting my grandmother's toenails for years. It was a surprise to both of us, evidently.
"You do not!" my grandmother insisted. "I can cut my own toenails! When did you cut them?!"
My mother insisted she wasn't strong enough anymore, and my grandfather just shook his head.
Towards the end of dinner, my great uncle surprised me by asking me what I think of gay marriage.
"I think it's fine," I said.
My grandfather became belligerent. "I don't understand it!" he said.
"What do you mean, you don't understand it?" my uncle asked.
"I don't like it and I don't understand it!" he repeated, and sounded angry. He didn't seem to be able to explain more than this.
My uncle started to explain that it's marriage between two men, no women.
"There can be two women," I said. "A marriage between lesbians."
"But, one of them has to be the man!" he said. He went on to explain that one of the two women is supposed to be the man, not in those exact terms (I believe he said something like, "One cuts the hair short and acts like the man."), but it prompted my mother to ask everyone to stop, which I found hilarious. Growing up in the SF Bay Area, in groups that are so tolerant of all types of minorities, it was interesting to hear an older generation talk about gay marriage this way, using such non-PC terms and ideas.
"Of all the times for me not to have my video camera!" I exclaimed. My grandmother laughed uproariously.
Everyone finished eating, and my grandmother asked me what I wanted for my birthday again, and the conversation repeated itself for the third time. This time my grandfather jumped in and told her he would show her.
"You know what journal she's talking about?" my grandmother asked. He said that he did and that he'll explain and have her do it later.