Sunday, June 13, 2010

Here's to Skinner the Sinner

It's a sad day around these parts. On Friday, my Nana Elsie died of kidney failure and complications of dementia at the age of 90. In a one-two punch to our family, her brother (who I called Uncle Hugh) died unexpectedly just a few hours later. My grandma was one of my heroes because, well, she was the ultimate bad-ass. How bad-ass? When I was four, my other grandma was visiting us and asked me what my Nana Elsie would like for her upcoming birthday. My answer: "Whiskey. Lots and lots of whiskey."

It's hard to write a blog post about my grandma without entering dangerously into Hallmark territory, so I've decided to fall back on that old standard of business writing designed to convey information quickly and effectively: the bullet point list. So here, then, is a list of reasons my grandma was awesome:

  • Once wrote her memoirs, which I (at the tender age of 12) was tasked with transcribing, since I was the only one who knew her way around those newfangled "personal computers." The "memoir" turned out to be more of a "detailed account of her sexual history," and I was forever traumatized by her use of the phrase "mad Russian love."
  • Would begin every family dinner by reciting various dirty rhymes, which she picked up when she lived with her first husband in mining camps. Her favorite was about Skinner the Sinner....who took his best girl out to a quarter past nine, he looked at the a quarter to ten it was in her....the dinner, not Skinner. He'd had it in before dinner. The sinner!
  • Once got drunk, hopped up on stage in Reno, and recited "Skinner the Sinner" in front of hundreds of patrons and her three very embarrassed sons.
  • Another go-to poetry favourite was called "It was Cold" and contained such phrases as "cold as the tip of a polar bear's tool" and "cold as the kiss of a whore when she cums."
  • Used to ride her exercise bike a few miles every day. I have never seen her so mad as when I started riding her bike backwards, thus disturbing her mileage count.
  • Caught gigantic fish.
  • Was a union shop steward when working at a pulp and paper mill. Had various service awards from the NDP.
  • Contracted and recovered from polio. (I guess this isn't so much an 'awesome thing my grandma did' but an example of 'shit she overcame').
  • Used to go down into the mines with her first husband, despite the fact that this was considered bad luck by the other miners.
  • Was the adopted grandma to several of my friends, who fondly remember her with phrases such as "your grandma tried to give me her underwear" or "your grandma taught me that 'cat' was spelled 's-h-i-t.'"
  • Made the most delicious bread and cinnamon buns. I have fond memories of eating raw bread dough covered in cinnamon and sugar. She also did her own canning and made her own soap.
  • At 80, had a better dating life than I did, at 17. ("My grandma gets more play than I do" is not a phrase you ever want to use). When she broke up with one paramour, she told him to "stick his d*ck up his a**h*** and f*ck himself," which is probably the best f*ck you I've ever heard.
  • Once drove through Mexico with my grandpa. They were aiming for Tijuana, but ended up driving for days before phoning my dad to say that they were lost. They hadn't found "Ti-a-wanna,' even though they had passed this "Ti-joo-ana' place awhile back.
  • Had the most high-pitched, glass-shattering voice. I have distinct memories of being on stage at Christmas concerts/ piano recitals etc. and hearing "that's my granddaughter up there!"
You see? I could really go on and on. So here's to Skinner the Sinner. And here's to my grandma, Elsie Margaret McNeney.

1 comment:

  1. I'm so sorry about your grandma. How lucky you are to have known her.