If You Boys’ll Just Help Me Flip This Car Over….. (A Grandmothah Bennett Story)

Grandmother Bennett and Me

This is going to be difficult to tell.  Mostly because I am already laughing.  It was unseasonably warm for mid-October.  We were still riding with our windows down.  This is something that people who live in small, country towns do–or used to do.  I don’t know about now, because I haven’t lived there in over 20 years, but I used to do it all the time.  The air smells different in the country.  There is something comforting about the sweet smell of cow manure and hay–I can’t explain it, it just is, and I know plenty of people who will back me up on that.  Another reason I did it, was I smoked cigarettes and I didn’t like to actually smell like cigarettes, so I was under the misguided impression that if I drove my car with the windows down, the cigarette smell would dissipate, and Mothah would not smell it on me when I got home.  This was, of course, a ridiculous delusion on my part.  Anyway, the point is that it was mid-October and people were still riding with their damn windows down in Madison, Georgia.  Mid-October happens to be my birthday. Literally. October 15.  Mothah was cooking my favorite dinner: Swiss Steak À La NaNa.  (NaNa was my grandmother on my Daddy’s side, and Swiss Steak was her specialty.  Nobody could actually duplicate it, but Mothah tried, Mothah tried, and actually she got pretty damn close)  Grandmothah Bennett was coming to join us for my birthday dinner.  I am pretty sure that we (my step sisters and I) were all rolling our eyes and standing around picking at the Pillsbury Crescent Rolls, which were all of our favorites, as we waited for the white Bonneville to come roaring down the driveway, a cloud of dust and gravel flying up behind it.  We knew it would take Grandmothah a minute to take one last drag off of her Misty Menthol and partially crush it into the overflowing ashtray, leaving it to burn out on its own-a lone streak of blue smoke drifting up in front of the dash.  She would dig through her giant bag, find her lipstick, and hold it perfectly still in front of her face while she moved her lips to apply it.  After all of that, she would get out of the car and slam the door and we would hear her walk up the walkway to the porch.  On this mid-October day, we waited.  We waited and waited and waited.  And Grandmothah Bennett never showed up.  This was SO not like her.  She always showed up.  We were getting worried.  About that time, some guys in a pickup truck pulled into the driveway and came to the door.  I think it was Mothah who actually went to the door, but after all the years that have past and the brain cells I have lost since then, these minor details are really not that important.  Grandmothah had wrecked her Bonneville.  Right up the road from our house.  We all got in the car and flew up the road to the scene of the accident.  She had been driving down Bethany Road, most likely smoking her Misty Menthols, with her windows down.  I already told you, it was unseasonably warm.  Apparently, she ran off the road a little and the conditions were just right enough for her to flip the Bonneville.  There was Grandmothah, in the Bonneville, upside down, on the side of Bethany Road.  Her arm was pinned underneath the top of the car.  She had apparently been carrying around several bags of trash in the back seat.  If you read my last story about Grandmothah Bennett, then you know that this was a thing with her.  We did not have residential garbage pick up in Madison, so we had to take our garbage to the dump.  Grandmothah would put hers in the backseat of her car and ride around with it until she felt like taking it to the dump.  This was quite unpleasant for anyone who had to ride with her.  Namely ME.  She always made me ride in the back seat.  With the trash.  Anyway.  That’s neither here nor there.  The Bonneville was upside down, with Grandmothah inside it, also upside down.  Her arm was trapped under the top of the car, bleeding.  It was not pretty.  We were all standing there waiting for the emergency vehicles to get there.  My mother was trying to comfort Grandmothah.  All of a sudden, Grandmothah yells out, in her raspy Misty Menthol voice, “HEY!, YOU BOYS! (she was talking to the boys who had stopped to help her. These were the same boys who came down to our house to tell us she had wrecked her car) IF YOU BOYS’LL JUST HELP ME FLIP THIS CAR OVER, I BELIEVE I’LL JUST GO ON DOWN TO BOB’S FOR LUNCH!!”  We all stood there, stunned. If you boys’ll just help me flip this car over, I believe I’ll just go on down to Bob’s for lunch. My step sisters and I had to walk off to the side because we were laughing so hard we were about to wet our pants.  I could hear Mothah saying, “Now, Ms. Bennett, you can’t come to lunch right now.  We are gonna have to go to the hospital and have your arm looked at, and then you can come have some lunch…..” We could hear Grandmothah protesting raspily, “I’M FINE! I DON’T NEED TO GO TO THE HOSPITAL! THEY CAN JUST FLIP THE CAR OVER!”  The emergency vehicles showed up and the rest of us went home and got in a car and went to the hospital to make sure Grandmothah was going to be okay.  Her arm was banged up, but other than that, she was fine.  She wanted to go out to the house for lunch, so we did.   It had been one hell of an afternoon.  Nobody felt much like eating Swiss Steak, well, except Grandmothah Bennett.  “Why aren’t y’all eatin’ Doll Babies?” she asked, with a mouth full of food.  All of us just looked at her, sitting there, in her bloody and dirty shirt, with her arm bandaged up.  “We ate too many Crescent Rolls”, we said.  That birthday dinner was pretty much a bust.  Oh well. There was always next year….

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