April 21, 2012

Church and Plate

I have an Evil Grandmother. (EGM) 

She is my paternal grandmother and a Protestant Bible thumper. 

Maybe it’s not fair to call her evil, but when I was a teenager, I found out how she disciplined my father. She made him strip naked, kneel on dry grains of rice, then beat him with a leather strap. 

That sounds pretty evil to me. I’m sure by today’s standards she would be arrested for child abuse. 

Just before I was born, EGM tried to convince my mother to let her raise me. Because, you know, my mom could always have other children. I can not even imagine…  

To this day, I’m sure she holds animosity towards my mother because, in her mind, she would have done a better job raising me. 


EGM is a stocky woman about 5’ 2”. She has dyed, black hair that frizzes around her face, and small dark eyes that narrow whenever anyone says anything that contradicts her view of the world. Despite her unfriendly appearance, her silent glare is better than her condescending conversation.  

One Saturday, when I was in college, EGM came over for dinner. This was a rarity since, as I said, she is evil. She doesn’t get along with anyone. Ever. She especially criticized that my sister and I were raised Catholic (I think she took it personally).  After repeated arguments and attempts to circumvent our religion, my parents decided not to discuss religion when she was over for dinner.

It was a clear separation of Church and Plate. 

Pre dinner was pseudo polite. A black and white movie played in the background while we talked about my studies. I was a psychology major and believe it or not, EGM is a social worker. Even talking about school was a competition to her.  As the conversation went on, it was clear that she was attempting to break down my confidence in my career path, because she knew better. 

Eventually, my mother called us into the dinning room.  

My grandmother sat next to my father, across from my mother, her stocky body jiggled as she settled into her seat.  My sister sat on EGM’s side of the table and I sat beside my mother.

As usual, my sister and I vented our frustrations through inappropriate dinner conversation. We were upset about an animal abuse story we heard on the news. Our conversation drifted from stories of animal abuse to the creative tortures that we thought animal abusers should suffer. We were on the receiving end of several dirty looks from my grandmother. Perhaps it was the, "how to keep our victim alive as we tortured him for days,” that upset her. 

“The Bible says man has dominion over animals.” I knew she couldn’t stay quiet for long. She reminds me of Dolores Umbridge from the Harry Potter movies, completely self righteous. 

I told her that, biologically, man is an animal. 

“I am not an animal,” she yelled across the table, then turned to my mother, “They are like this because you didn’t beat them enough.” 

My sister and I stared at each other, wide eyed and appalled. I didn’t know if I should laugh or just ignore her. 
“If you ask them, I was too harsh,” my mother chimed in.

My grandmother tried to justify beating my sister and I by quoting more Bible passages. Knowing what she did to my father, it made me so angry. Who the hell does she think she is? 

I told her that the Bible was just a book, written by a man. I emphasized, man. I said, “If you need a book to be close to God, then I feel sorry for you. God should be here.” I pointed to my heart. 

Granted, I said it to piss her off, but I was not prepared for the woman to go berserko.

She reached across the dinning table, grabbed me by my wrists, and started to shake me. I was pulled halfway across the table before I realized what she was doing. I think she was trying to pull me closer to smack me. I firmly, but calmly said, “Let go,”  as I got to my feet. 

I wasn't going to push an old lady.  No matter how evil she is. 

My mother finally stood up and yelled, “Enough.”  

EGM let go of my wrists and glared at me, her beady eyes expressing murder. She grabbed her bag and stormed out of the house, ranting her religious nonsense under her breath.  

That was the last time she was ever invited to dinner.