Nostalgia, Hair-Singeing Breath, and Expired Peanut Butter

This was written by someone outside of The Stampede — Joel Henderson


Photo by Stampede

Joel Henderson, Outside Writer

Stories aren’t always meant to have a theme of some sort, stories are told because that is what many of us know. We know the stories that were told to us by our decaying ancestors. They unwittingly told us things, expecting us to continue the age old tradition.

My grandma wasn’t very traditional, however. I remember very little of my childhood, but I do vividly remember her absolutely nonsensical stories. I think of the days where my dirty, unwashed body would sit down and listen to her tell the same story again, and again, and again.

The story she always loved to tell was “Bloody Fingers in the Butter.” This was arguably the most flexible out of the manifold of stories she had in that small brain of hers. As she told this scary story, she would interchange the main characters names to fit ours — how clever of her. All of her anecdotes would be funny, and I do commend her on that front.

My grandma has a way of telling stories that would always give you a smile, even if it was meant to be chilling. Her peculiar methods seemed to always conclude with some startling noise, and our subsequent laughter. The side-splitting jokes that always had subliminal dirty meanings, and the scowl from my parents, I remember all of this well. These memories are filled with a nostalgic feeling that I, in an odd way, yearn for. A slight part of me misses her surprise visits, which were always accompanied with her gifts of expired peanut butter.

“Thanks Grandma. . .”

My grandma had a bad habit of eating while she was talking. My own family would take amusement in calling our bad eating habits “a grandma.” She seemed to influence our lives inadvertently. As our bones grew larger and our minds developed, so did our distaste for those corny stories. We always associated such times with her grey, grimy, never clean and always cluttered Chrysler, with her hair-singeing breath, with her fleshy skin, with her “ickies” and her “ews.”

In retrospect, perhaps we were too tough on the poor, old, decrepit soul. Perchance we should have overlooked the bad, the obvious, the uncontrollable, and instead look to the good. Maybe the stories of old have some deeper meaning that we have yet to discover. As I go along with my daily routines, I occasionally find my mind wandering, jumping from distant memory to distant memory. I sit, and I ponder upon the days of yore. . .

“. . . Then, JoJo finally opens the fridge to grab the butter. . . he shits his pants when he sees the bloody fingers — in the butter! ” Grandma always had a way with words.