Before this past Thanksgiving, I had never been asked pointblank by my grandmother to defend my lack of romantic partner. Certainly my aunt has inquired if I was seeing anyone and my cousins have asked if I date, but the conversation is brief and surface-level. This past Thursday that all came to a halting stop.
After dinner, I decided to join the adult table because that's where the desserts sat. (Yes, for my 24th year of life I was assigned to sit at the kids' table, which I hereby reclaim as the millennial table.)
My grandma prodded me. "Do you have a girlfriend yet?"
Me: (laughing, unsuspecting) "No."
Grandma: "Are you seeing anyone?"
Me: (beginning to get uncomfortable) "No."
Grandma: "Why not?"
I tried to wait this out, because I didn't know what to say, but I can't stand silence so I answered, "It's not a priority."
Grandma: "Well, you need to make it a priority. I'm not going to live forever. I want great-grandkids."
Me: "You have great-grandkids. Multiple great-grandkids." (Not saying they're legitimate, but that's none of my business.)
Grandma: "I want more. At least four."
Me: "Well, I don't know if you're going to get those from me."
Grandma: "What do you mean?"
Me: "I don't know if I want kids."
I reach for the pumpkin bread to try to stuff my face and duck out of this assault.
Grandma: "You have to have kids. Your parents had you, so you have to have grandkids for them now. That's how it works."
What logic is this?
Me: "I mean, I'm the one that will have to live with these kids for the next 40 or 60 years. And I'm not sure I want them."
My grandma scowled at me.
Me: "You know what I am seeing in my future? A PhD."
My grandma didn't get the joke. My brother explained it to her. This was like before dinner when my grandma asked where my other (senile) grandmother was and I replied, "She forgot it was Thanksgiving. Literally." Only my brother and I laughed.
Grandma: "You could do both, you know? Have a girlfriend and go to school."
Me: "I do a lot of other things. I think someone is calling my name in the other room . . . "
Grandma: "How much longer is your program?"
Me: "Two years."
Grandma: "So you'll get married then. And you can have kids in four years."
Me: "I'm not sure I'm on that timetable."
Me: "And I have to meet someone and go through a courtship. If I have kids, it will be after I'm 30."
Grandma: "I'll be dead by then."
These are realities we must face.
Me: "I'm trying to go to Africa when I graduate. I want to join the Peace Corps, and that's 27 months."
Grandma: "You don't need to do that. You need to get married."
No, you need to chill.
Me: "I want to travel."
Grandma: "Does your mom know about this? You want to go to Africa?"
Me: "Yes. She's not happy, but -- "
Grandma: "ISIS will behead you."
Me: "I guess I won't be having kids then."
Grandma: "What about all your female friends? You're not interested in one of them?"
Me: "No, we're just friends."
Grandma: "Cazey, I'm not joking. I don't have many years left."
This is true; I didn't even trust her to make it through this year.
Me: "Well, I am going to go visit my cousins in the other room because watching football even sounds more enticing than this interrogation."
In the kitchen my uncle assailed me. He was refilling his plate. "Cazey, do you know what microaggressions are?"
Uncle: "I read about them all the time in the news. On all these college campuses. What is a microaggression?"
Me: "I've heard the term, but I really can't define it on the spot (or want to open up that can of cranberry sauce tonight). I'm gonna go watch football."
My cousin asked if I wanted a drink. I declined. She then said, "Tell me fun college stories."
You mean from three years ago when I was in college? Well, one time I took twelve shots in an hour and a half . . .
Later my grandma roped me into helping my mom to drive her home. On the way my mom asked about my friend in Boston: "How is she doing?"
From the passenger seat, my grandma piped up: "Who is she? Is she a candidate?"
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