What better way to follow up my most embarrassing stories then with another family classic? This one is about my grandfather. I’m running out of my own stories since I can only publicly humiliate myself so many times.
This is one of my absolute favorite family stories:
My grandfather was a pretty awesome dude. He was an Army veteran, a professional baseball player, and a police officer. He never liked to talk about his service in World War II, but he was a war hero. He stormed the beaches at Normandy (June 6, D-Day, happened to be on his birthday) and received a battlefield commission at Remagen Bridge. He played an important role in liberating Germany. When he came home he was a baseball player for a few years before becoming a police officer who busted illegal bootlegging operations. How many cool careers can one guy have in a lifetime? Seriously, if they made a movie about it, people would think the coolness of his character was too far-fetched.
He passed away when I was 14. He never talked about the war or his time as a drug and alcohol buster-upper with me, as those topics were not appropriate for little girls. What he did like talking about was his baseball stories. He had tons of stories, but this one was my favorite:
For a few summers he was playing for the minor league team in Elmira, New York. My grandmother and their two young girls (my aunts, my dad wasn’t born yet) would stay in Elmira with him during the playing season and they would rent an upstairs apartment from an elderly woman in town. The elderly woman lived downstairs. During the off season they lived in Baltimore to be close to family.
The year my Aunt Cathi was a newborn, my grandfather had an away game and while he was gone the elderly lady offered to switch apartments with my grandma. These were the days before air conditioning and the downstairs apartment was cooler for the baby, plus then the young mom wouldn’t have to worry about getting two small kids up and down all the steps.
These were also the days before cell phones and the team was traveling by bus, so there was no way for them to notify my grandfather. They couldn’t very well have a letter delivered to a traveling bus.
You know where this is going.
He came home late one night after everyone was asleep. They weren’t expecting him until the next day. He was trying to be as quiet as possible so he didn’t wake up the baby. He went upstairs, in the dark (again trying not to wake the kids) and undressed thinking he was climbing into bed with the wife he hadn’t seen for a while. Ahem.
Instead he was met with the screams of his elderly land lady.
When Poppop told he story he would always reenact the way he jumped out of bed, yelled, “PARDON ME, MADAM!” grabbed his clothes, and got out of there as fast as he could.
And that is why, to this day, I like to say “Pardon me, Madam!” to break the tension in awkward situations. 🙂