My Smokin’ Hot Grandma
There are gifts we receive which we simply don’t deserve. For me, that gift is Gigi.
Gigi was my grandmother on my father’s side. Gigi was, from what I hear, a terrible mother. I wouldn’t be surprised: Gigi was extraordinarily self-centered.
There are so many things to be said about Gigi that I don’t even know where to start. Pretty much everything I can think of makes me laugh, because Gigi was a caricature of a human being. Let me say this clearly, so that no one misinterprets me: I adored Gigi.
Gigi was freshly divorced from my Grandfather when my parents got married in 1965. She moved to Florida before being a snowbird was a thing. She drove a sportscar and wore miniskirts. Gigi got breast implants before they were safe and once gave someone a hug so hard they popped.
Gigi smoked long cigarettes and wore stiletto heels. She wore heels, pink or red, until the day she died.
Just a little anecdote to fully introduce you Gigi: My father was an avid runner. One morning, circa 1967, he got up early to go run, and Gigi, an insomniac, said, “I’ll come!” So, with a lit cigarette and heeled sandals, she followed my father, stopping at each telephone pole to gasp for air and take a puff on her cigarette.
There. You know almost everything you need to know about Gigi.
It’s in the genes
I inherited a lot of my zany from Gigi. The fact that for most of my life I have believed the world turned around me came from her. I think it’s in the genes. There is a self-obsessed gene, there is the color enthusiast gene, the everyone is looking at you gene. The cooking is best done when no one is looking and please just eat it and don’t ask questions gene are equally from Gigi.
Gigi was a beautiful woman. I don’t know that she ever “took care of herself” in the way we mean it now: she smoked, she drank coffee like it was water, her penchant for heels would have made exercise complicated. But she did love to look good and be looked at.
Gigi could get away with looks that only someone without an angel on her shoulder could get away with. How I admire that freedom.
I am in trouble
My petticoat inheritance from my cancan dancing friend came with a leopard top. It is a far-too-sexy number for me. And yet I did not reject it the way I rejected the purple petticoat. My friend actually insisted I take it, which was funny, because she didn’t insist on the petticoat.
“This is so you,” she said. If that’s what she thinks of me, then I am in trouble.
I hadn’t touched it since I got it last summer, and then yesterday, poof! I saw a rather soft-spoken twenty-something young woman wearing a long-sleeved leopard number and was taken by how put-together she looked (in spite of a pair of jeans which reminded me all too much of a pair I wore in 1989. I digress.)
When I am Old, I Will Wear Leopard
“Fine. I’ll try it,” I thought. So I came home and put it on and I felt instantly like I had aged twenty years. It was the weirdest thing. I took a photo and who I saw looking back at me was not me. I saw Gigi.
I am not ready to wear leopard, I decided. At least not that much leopard. There must be a sweetspot for leopard, such as in the twenties when you can look fresh and glamorous. Or over sixty when, because life is unfair, just when you get to start living again after having kids and giving of yourself to everyone but yourself, you start to be invisible in the eyes of the world.
I may be speaking out of turn here, but I have to wonder if, like forty was an important mental hurdle for me, if fifty or sixty might not be similar. This is why women congregate for lunch wearing purple and a red hat: to be with other women who get it.
I wonder if one of those decade switches will open up the leopard category for me, and suddenly the “Look at Me!” factor of inherent in this motif will be what I need.
When I am old, I will wear leopard, not purple. Or maybe I will wear purple.
When I am old I will wear leopard and a purple petticoat.