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Lunch With Nanna

Going out to lunch with my nanna is what you might call ‘an experience’. The first issue arises before the lunch even happens. She will complain to her children that none of her grandchildren have spent time with her recently. That will invariably filter down to us all, as it is specifically designed to do, perfected over generations of familial guilt manipulation. Then, when you call to organise a date, you will spend half an hour on the phone as she runs through her packed schedule for the week. There’s the social clubs, the appointments, the trips, the visitors. Sometimes she won’t be able to fit you in for two weeks at a time. She’ll then protest that nobody has taken her out.

The next event in the lunch saga is that no matter what time we decide on to meet, she will undoubtedly be early. We consistently choose 12:30pm to meet, but I know each time that she will be there waiting by 12pm doing whatever those who don’t use smart phones do. Judging everyone who passes by or something. The arriving early is never really inconvenient for me, because I have inherited this trait of hers, and am also always early to everything.  Besides, the extra time comes in handy if she needs to get money out for lunch. Like an old person who declines to move with the times, or Mel Gibson in Conspiracy Theory, she refuses to use ATMs, instead taking me into the bank to wait in line. This reinforces my willingness to pay for her meal, making me think it’s some kind of covert Nanna-ploy.

 Next is the joy of actually deciding where to eat. This woman is essentially the most Caucasian person in Australia, and is suspicious of this so-called ‘flavour’ fad. It was not that long ago that I asked if she wanted to get a burrito, and she had not heard of a burrito. When I explained it to her, she proclaimed that it would be too spicy, no matter how many times I informed her you could get non-spicy versions and children eat them. We ended up getting scones and tea. This satisfied her, although the tea came out with a little hourglass timer, advising how long you should let your tea steep. She did not appreciate being told what to do by a timer, so ignored the instructions.

If I take Nanna anywhere to get a bigger lunch than scones, I have to be prepared for her most embarrassing (yet hilarious) quality. She seems to be under the impression that menus in restaurants are optional. They are just suggestions, and everyone is free to order things that aren’t listed. She never wants what the place is offering. She decides what she feels like eating, and asks for it. Half of the time this works, because what she usually wants is a ham, cheese and tomato toasted sandwich. “Why don’t you just go to a place that sells toasted sandwiches?” you are probably asking, and I don’t have an answer for you. Maybe she enjoys the thrill of the chase, the power of sending scared wait staff scuttling. 

I saw my Nanna today, and brought this up. My Aunt told us that she has been doing this since they were kids, ordering McDonalds staff to make her a cheeseburger without cheese or sauce. I told them about the new thing at McDonalds where you can build your own burger, and Nanna said that it was probably because of her, and she deserves some of the riches. Maybe she’s right.

 Before, during, and after lunch, Nanna and I argue. She's an old-fashioned conservative who doesn't even use ATMs. We are in opposition on almost every issue (except that we love each other). We fight about politics, and social issues, and I think she is wrong on almost every single thing. It can be frustrating, but I know that she loves our debates. She thrives on pushing my buttons. Recently as I was walking her to the bus, we passed office workers smoking on the street.

 “Tsk,” she said. “Poor things. Why should they have to go all the way downstairs and out of the buildings just to have a smoke?”

She doesn’t smoke. 

This immediately prompted another one of our famous arguments, as we walked smiling, arm-in-arm.

Maybe I secretly love our debates too.