My grandfather (maternal; I never knew my father’s father) has been passed away some years now. He was no more a perfect man than I am, but he was a wise man, and at times a very funny one. He always found humor in the absurd.
The funniest thing I can remember from my grandfather was one time when he was doing one of his favorite schticks: the dumb hick. While he spoke with the gentle drawl of rural Kansas, he was a strong demonstration of the fact that accents do not imply ignorance. He was intelligent and thoughtful, both as a farmer and rancher, and later as a business executive. So when he really laid the Cletus on thick, it was quite amusing to hear. In this case, he was reading his junk mail, aloud, as if he believed every word of it. It went something like this:
“Dorothy, the nahs folks at Publisher’s Clearin’ House have written to me. They say, ‘Dear Mr. Johnson, the team at PCH is pleased to officially announce yore name as the second-place winner of the $7 million grand prize.’ They say that the total amount is $1 million. Well, Ah’ll be! They also say they will make all necessary arrangements for me to receive mah prize, and Ah know they’re serious because they enclose a cashier’s check to cover any fees they haven’t paid. Mighty nice of them. Ah must contact mah representative directly before Ah deposit the check, and for more information. Sounds reasonable. They give me a security code, so we best keep that someplace real safe. And you know it’s on the up-and-up because they even assigned me mah own IRS agent, Mr. Henry Cohen. Good, because Ah don’t want any trouble with the law.”
He could go on like that for a while, straight-faced, immune to my cackles, horselaughs and guffaws. I only cracked my grandfather up once in return when he was doing that, but that time, I got the old man good.
Grandpa was reading aloud from a Harry & David sales pitch around Christmastime–he and Grandma were regular customers. “Harry and David would like us to help them celebrate their fiftieth anniversary!” he began.
I broke in with my own Cletus put-on. “Ah’ll be darned, Grandpa. Ah never even knew they was married.”
My deeply, culturally and politically conservative grandfather bust out in a gale of mirth.
It’s one of my favorite ways to remember him.