Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Where accordians play disco...

My friend Jennifer will be disappointed, this isn't about Harry Potter.

So will my fourth grade English teacher, since I am about to disregard spelling entirely (if I haven't already). Sorry.

But Jennifer's the one who matters. After all, she's about to abandon me, to move on to greener pastures. So when you read this, remember Jen, while you're having fun, wearing a t-shirt in January and riding Space Mountain, while you're visiting the Star Wars ride, Jen, and saying hi to Artoo for me (you'd better), remember that while you're in sunny Florida, I'll be at the Polish restaurant.

This all started in a few weeks ago. My Grandpa needed some cheering up. Understandably. Not only had Grandma passed away right before Christmas, Grandpa had just found out some other news.

Now to understand this news, you have to know the Godlewski side of the family is a little odd.

Not so much Grandpa, although he does swear like a sailor (which he was) constantly at full-voice because he thinks no one can hear him. We aren't all eighty percent deaf. And now that I'm all grown up, I know what all of those words mean. For shame. Great Grandma and Grandpa Godlewski came over from Poland to find work after their country had been beat up on yet again.The two were devout Catholics, and still pretty bitter about Martin Luther and all that, even though all those wars were over years before they were born. So when Grandpa Godlewski brought home an Englishwoman, member of the Church of England, the two threw a fit. This consisted in them speaking to poor Gran only in Polish, and eventually tossing their traitor son out of the family in all but name. Grandpa lost track of all his sisters except Great Auntie El. Great Grandma Godlewski vanished from my Grandpa's life, unless she was showing up in Griffith with a tub of ice cream and beer ( for beer floats, of course). So right after Grandma died, my Grandpa's last remaining sibling passed away. But rather than calling my grandpa and telling him this, her children told a grandaughter of hers to tell my cousin's husband (Adam) to tell my grandpa his sister was dead because Adam knew the other girl because she's a policewoman and he's a firefighter. So Grandpa finds this out. Now not only is he blue about losing his wife (which no one on that side of the family bothered to acknowledge) he's lost his sister too, and no one had the decency to tell him. Now that you know all that (and boy do I mean all), you know why Mom wanted to cheer him up.

The last time we went to the Warsaw Inn, we were lost for an hour, driving back and forth through the same intersection because Grandpa wouldn't let Mom drive the way I told her to go, which shockingly turned out to be correct.

And every time we have gone, I am greeted with a crowd of short, balding, round men with cigars or pipes which they are smoking indoors, muttering swears at me because they think I've cut in front of them in the buffet line and I might end up with the last of the sauerkraut. And I don't even eat sauerkraut. I mean, look, I can't even spell it!

I love the Polish restaurant.

Where else in the world is it exceptable, even expected, for the accordian player to croon out disco hits while trying to play his instrument and the keyboard at the same time, because the keyboard player went to get them more beer? When will anyone see little old women outrunning grown, healthy, adult men on their way to the dessert bar? Or just the bar? And where else will a tall girl get open hostility, get pinched by complete strangers and told that she'd better fatten up or she'll never find a husband, or that she's just too tall and she'd better look to that, her childbearing years are almost over. Complete strangers!

So, Jen, while you're buying twenty-dollar hamburgers--oh, I'm sorry, Mouseketeer Burgers--in the Magic Kingdom, I'll be eating stuffed cabbage and knocking down the elderly without shame. Meanwhile, they'll be looking for an opening to do the same to me. And if they can't find one, they'll wait until I introduce them to my firstborn daughter (no matter how long it takes for me to find and secure a man and then create a progeny of my own) and then they'll tell her she's fat in Polish and that she isn't getting any younger while they take the last sausage right off her plate.

And if they die before my daughter is born, well, they'll make sure their children take care of it for them. Because in the Polish restaurant, you're family.