In just three days, it will be Christmas. Despite the bright and cheery decorations twinkling in the streets, wreaths on doors, and Christmas trees peeking through windows, Hector doesn't feel one... [+]
It was the summer of 1983 and eight-year-old Danny Brown was having a terrible time. A shy and serious only child, he had recently been forced to move with his parents and, as far as he was concerned, the whole thing had been a disaster. His father's new job had uprooted them from their cozy city condo and taken them 489 miles away from everything Danny had ever known. He missed his old room, his old friends and especially his beloved Granny May.
Fresh people in a really small town are always noticed, and Danny knew he was being closely watched. When they would leave the new house, he’d try not to attract attention and would avoid the eyes of the other kids. However, as he ducked around corners and hid in the bushes, he only became more interesting.
He was growing increasingly nervous and was beside himself with worry over the start of the new school year. It would be there, in a room full of strangers, that he would be forced to face his greatest fear. He had suddenly, and without adequate preparation, become the worst thing you could be…the dreaded dorky new kid.
Danny voiced his concerns to his parents, but they didn't seem alarmed. His father hugged him tight and said, "you'll work it out, buddy," and his mother told him he was smart and kind and "the other kids will learn to love you.” His parents had obviously never been children. His only comfort was knowing that Granny May was coming to rescue him over Labor Day weekend.
Granny May was very short and very round. She dressed in flashy colors she called cheerful and never left the house without a face full of gutsy make-up. On a younger woman it would be shocking, but on Granny May it was cute. She always looked like an Easter egg. She quivered with kindness, cookies, cuddles and crafts, and never had an unkind thought. To Danny, she was magical, and he thought there wasn't a thing she couldn't do.
Granny May mothered three children and four grandkids with a dynamic devotion that bordered on intrusive. She buzzed with distraction and never stopped talking, but her tender heart and good intentions made everyone tolerate the commotions she always seemed to cause. Her dedication and sunny disposition were just what Danny needed, so Danny's father had taken a deep breath, picked up the phone, and asked his mother to come.
Granny May rolled in on a Thursday in a cloud of ruffles and warm, doughy hugs. Danny was sure she would immediately pack them up and move his family back where they belonged, but instead, she settled into the guest room and immediately began baking. When they went into town, she drew squeamish attention by fawning over strangers and declaring the town "postcard perfect.” When Danny confided his fears to her, she told him to give it more time and offered him pie. She seemed delighted with the entire situation.
Danny was shocked at her disloyalty, but even more alarming was the slow realization he was starting to have. He was newly self-conscious and when he looked at Granny May with fresh eyes, he was suddenly embarrassed to be seen with her and Monday was fast approaching.
The town always held a large Labor Day picnic and when Granny May saw the posters for it, she insisted the family attend. Her plan was to hand out candy to the children, calling it a great way for Danny to make new friends. Danny was mortified at the thought. He knew not to take candy from a stranger, and no one seemed stranger to him right now than Granny May.
No amount of pretend stomach aches or foot dragging stopped the momentum and Labor Day morning Danny found himself in the car. He was surrounded by coolers, his parents, and an especially excited, heavily perfumed and joyfully plumed Granny May. He was determined to make an escape from her and spend the day in hiding.
The entire town always showed up for the picnic and the Brown family found parking four blocks away, unpacked their car and headed clumsily for the park. Danny knew he had a short window to make a disappearance, but before he could manage it, an unfortunate fall would bind him tightly to his Granny May for the duration of the day.
Granny May, already unstable on her feet, slipped in a puddle and tumbled backwards, landing squarely on her big, round bottom. She bravely laughed it off and, after much assistance getting to her feet again, demanded the day proceed. She had a purse full of candy she was determined to distribute.
The fall, however, had sharply and painfully wrenched Granny May's back. Since Danny's parents were loaded down with picnic supplies, it fell to Danny to help her walk, and the two of them, locked in a tight embrace, lurched and stumbled forward, like a ridiculous four-legged cartoon.
In the time it took to get to the park, Granny May had come apart. Her rubber ballet flats, now damp, made a loud squeak with every step and the heat of the day made her make-up run in rainbow racing stripes. The fall had also put a large, round, muddy stain on Granny May's behind. Her skirt had folded when she fell, which somehow left a clean, straight line through the center of the smudge and, from the back, it looked like a face with a big, grinning mouth.
Most surprising of all, though, were the hidden pockets of long-held flatulence the fall dislodged, which were unleashed in sonic booms, every twenty feet or so. But Granny May was a trooper and her only admissions of distress were the breathy "oops-a-daisies" and "gee-whizzes" she murmured every time gas barked from the mouth of the muddy stain.
The only thing that kept Danny by Granny May's side that day, helping to prop her up, was his deep love and true concern for her. What he couldn't anticipate was the impact she would have on the town. Like a noisy and colorful two-man band, they made the rounds of the picnic, handing out candy as they went.
The adults, seeing a sweet lady in discomfort, offered liquids and seating, as if she were royalty. The teenagers thought she was maybe from the circus, but it was the little kids who went absolutely nuts. They flocked around her in amazement, taking her treats and squealing in delight with every noise her rotund little body made. She was a pin-ball machine come to life.
When the family got home that night, Granny May collapsed into bed and Danny tenderly tucked her in with lots of hugs and kisses. He was grateful she had worked so hard on his behalf, but it was the first day of school when he realized the full impact of Granny May's unintended wizardry.
Granny May hadn't planned on such a ridiculous Labor Day parade, but she wasn't a quitter and always attacked life with gusto and joy. During the picnic, after a particularly long burst of gas, she had leaned into one small boy and cheerfully said, "isn't it always just magical?" That little boy told everyone what he was sure he'd heard her say…that farting made wishes come true.
The kids in town were thrilled to finally know this secret and very useful information and they had Danny Brown to thank for it. They welcomed him home like a hero.