“I have been through seven Grandmas now.”
Grandpa’s voice sounded tired. He looked tired. He didn’t look all that much older than he had back then, but it had been seven grandmas.
It was a good song. It was clever, it was easy to sing, and it got me on the Billboard top ten. Raked in the money on iTunes. Seriously, it made me nice money, got my name out there.
The problem was, I sang it for the wrong person, or maybe in the wrong place, or maybe both.
I’m still not sure which, but what I do know was it that one stage, in Springfield, packed audience but not that big of town. I got through the end of I Wish and somewhere in the back of the audience a woman stood up. I mean, everybody was already standing, and all of a sudden there she was taller than anyone else like she was standing on their shoulders. At the time, it seemed to make sense.
And she said – damn I will still remember her face to this day – she said
And at first, I thought she was just kind of a weird fan, though I got to admit the way the whole place reverberated with that single word, it felt a little strange.
And then then I went back to the bus. And everything was fine until Hogan, he brought in his phone and he waved at me. “You see this? You see this? Somebody’s fucking with us.”
Now, I admit, I was half drunk, half asleep, and half stoned, so it took me a second. A bleary, weary, staring at the screen second, and then I figured out. It was a news article. I didn’t know Hogan even read the news. And it said, “Prank Changes All Street Signs in Minnesota to Copperhead.”
“That takes skill.” At the moment, I was more impressed than anything. “That takes hella skill,” I repeated. I did mention the half drunk part, right? “Someone likes us.”
“Someone something,” Hogan muttered.
Well, he was right. First time for everything, right?
“You’ve got to write another song,” Grandpa insisted. “You’ve got to take it back. At least you’ve at least got to change it.”
” Do you think I haven’t?” At first, it seemed fine, I mean, the first couple days, and then after the worst of the mess cleared, it seemed pretty nice. But things… Changed. “Do you think I haven’t tried? I’ve done everything. You’ve gone through seven Grandmas. I’ve gone through five Katies. I’ve written song after song, I’ve sung them all over the world. My grandson is a grandfather! And so is his grandson! I’m down to singing random words in random places and hoping someone – the right someone – is listening. Nothing, nothing works! I got nothing left to sing, Grandpa.”
Obviously, it didn’t stop with Minnesota, and it didn’t stop with Copperhead Road. There was a bad time there for a while ’till we figured out how to get people out of those never-ending Sundays on creek beds. And, of course, we had to figure out new ways to do navigation with every road in the world having the same name.
Some of it the wish seemed to take less literally, which was probably good, considering… some of the other problems.
“I can’t keep doing this. I mean… what if you disowned me? Forgot me? What if I was horrid to everyone?” Grandpa put his hands over his face. “What if I pulled out the shotgun?”
We’d discovered it wasn’t enough to father a child who had a child. You had to be a grandpa. Usually, this meant being a dad first, but sometimes you could make up for it. Still, boys were rushing to father babies as soon as they could in hopes their kids would do them the favor they were doing their dads.
And grandpas – if you were – you just never died. You stopped getting older but you didn’t get younger. You healed anything, eventually. As long as, well, you were a grandpa, which meant, I suppose, everyone was trying. The guys, at least.
Women, girls, tho, they were far less interested in the whole thing, more and more so. It was beginning to look like maybe the only people left in the world were gonna be grandpas, half of ’em seeming like they were in their 80s and the other half looking barely 30.
Drinking cold bud light, because it never. Freaking. Runs out.
“You’ve got too many grandkids, Grandpa. Never gonna be nothing you can do that will have them all give up on you.”
“And you?” He glared at me. “What about you?”
“Me? I’m gonna keep singing I Wish I Wasn’t an Idiot until someone listens.” I picked up my guitar. “Goodbye, grandpa. Maybe I’ll see you again when I come back around.”
“I hope you don’t,” he muttered, but I knew he didn’t mean it, not for real.
The price of gas was still low but nobody could get any anymore, so I started walking.
I had promises, so many oaths, still to keep, and the wish, once lovely, ‘d turned dark and deep.
I had a long way to go, miles and miles, and so much to sing before I could sleep.
Okay, notes. This is inspired by the country song “Grandpas Never Died”, though the “done” comes from Buffy the Vampire Slayer – The Wish and Anya as a vengeance demon granting Cordelia’s wish.
I do not picture the narrator of this song as Riley Green; I know nothing about the man. Rather, he’s some hapless country singer in some other universe where wishes ARE granted who picked this song and sang it at exactly the wrong moment.
And yeah, they’ve been alive a long time after the wish.
This was originally spurred by the whole thought of “well, shit, what about grandmothers? That sucks.”
Oh! Also! “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” Robert Frost.