Grandma is a matchmaker

I'm experimenting in faster writing, with less editing time. Hopefully the result remains clear. Enjoy!


Grandma is a matchmaker.

One day we, me and my brother Leonard, were playing in our garden. We have a big garden and there are always big fat slugs crawling over the lettuce leaves. Mama gives us pennies when we catch slugs, then we take the pennies to the store on the corner for candy, or sometimes use all our pennies together and share an ice cream from the man who sells strawberry or chocolate from a big ice box on the back of his bike.

We hadn't found any slugs that day. My brother was lying on the little grass hill on the edge of the vegetable patch staring at the clouds and he told me that Grandma was a matchmaker. When he said it I thought he meant she made matches, like the ones I'm allowed to use to light the old stove at our cottage when we need to burn all those mini-cereal boxes we only ever eat there. The ones with white tips on red that smear across the black iron, strike anywhere matches. Leonard lit one on his zipper once.

As a matchmaker I picture her sitting at a large wooden desk, from the back. She has a bright light shining on her. On the desk to her right is an enormous pile of neatly stacked wooden sticks and she pinches one in her fingers, bringing it to a tiny red and white match cap that she pinches from an equally large pile to her left. Time after time. And if I imagine her face she has one of those one eyed glasses pinched in her right eye, and there's a magnifying glass so when she brings the stick and match-head together the pieces are easy to see and her hands are not just too big but look fat and ungainly. But they still make the same small connection, again and again. It's like she's a jeweler at work, except she's working from the wrong end of the periodic table.

The periodic table is where all the world's elements are listed with all their specific details, and some of them, depending on what they look like and stuff, people pay a lot of money for. It's a bit confusing because there are a lot of numbers but I like science and my brother tells me about it and lets me look at his books from class.

That's wrong though. Leonard told me she's a matchmaker because she knows who should get married. He figures in a few years grandma will probably tell him he's meant to marry Janet, some girl he goes to school with. He also says my old babysitter Joyce just got married to Lester Jenkins just because grandma said she should. They barely knew each other and I heard Joyce say once that she liked a boy named Tom, but they're married now anyway.

It's really confusing because I thought when people were in love, that's when they got married. I asked grandma and she asked me if I make my shoes and I laughed and laughed. I don't know how to do that. Then she asked me if I cut my hair. I do that sometimes, but Mama says I look silly when I do it and I think she's right so the barber does it. Grandma explained it like this:

You probably think you know your own hair better than anyone else because you're around it all the time, but other people see it more than you do. You need a mirror to see what it's doing, but others have a different perspective and can look at it in a different way than you. A barber cuts hair all day long, everyday. He sees all sorts of stuff and gets a good idea of what looks good. If the barber sees a fat headed child with red freckles and pudgy cheeks that squish his eyes closed he knows that boy's curly hair needs to be cut a certain way, and when a skinny older man whose hair his half grey and thinning in the middle sits down the barber knows that man needs something else to look his best. People might think they know what they like, and maybe who they want to marry, but they don't see love enough. They only truly think about love when they love and people can only love so many times in a life. Certainly not enough to be an expert. I think about love all the time. I know how certain kinds of love work for some people but different people need different love. And sometimes people might think they need love but what they really need is someone with a good job, or a person who loses their keys constantly, a husband with a short fuse but likes to go dancing on Saturday night, or a wife who cries horribly when she thinks the meatloaf is burned although each week it inevitably turns out more delicious than the one before. It's my job to know what people want and need, even if they don't.

What Grandma said makes sense I think. Mama and Dad are funny. Sometimes they yell or argue, but they always like to hug afterwards and give big kisses to each other. I thought everyone had parents that acted that way, but they do not. My friend Cal's parents never shout but I've seen them stare really mad. Their eyes can be mean. I guess that's what Grandma means. Mama and Dad like to yell, and like it when someone yells back. If Dad had married Cal's mom by accident they wouldn't be happy. He'd be yelling but she'd just be quiet and cross and staring at him and then no one would be happy.

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