I have a grandmother who is about 4’8″ and weighs close to 300 pounds. For once in my life, I am not exaggerating. She is as round as she is tall. She is married to a string bean of a man who wears a man’s white undershirt every single day and will only eat with plastic utensils. It’s very Jack Spratt. Also, he yelled at us one time for eating his Otter Pops when we were visiting. We were like six. And he’s not my grandfather. I have one grandfather and three grandmothers. But anyway.
Like the rest of my family, I’m not very close to this grandmother and have almost no contact with her. So when Ginny wrecked and I was making calls, I didn’t call her. I knew one of my aunts would and I let her.
For the purposes of clarity, let’s call her Grandma M.
Grandma M called the next day and offered to get on the next train from Iowa to come help out. She’d worked at a nursing home, remember, and knew how to care for invalids. That was very nice of her, we said (and it was), but Ginny was getting good care at the hospital, there wasn’t much we could do at the moment, and we weren’t up to visitors ourselves. Hell, we weren’t up to eating food at that point.
She wanted to do something, though. Could Ginny use some muumuus? (Grandma M is quite fond of muumuus.) Ginny wasn’t so much into the muumuu, we explained, but would probably be grateful for some nightshirts. We relayed sizes.
A few weeks later, Ginny got a postcard in the mail from Lane Bryant, saying that the items she’d ordered from their catalog were not in stock and would be delivered in the next three to four weeks. Now, Ginny’s all about some Lane Bryant – she’s practically their favorite shopper. I think she’s worn her Lane Bryant card to a nub by now. However, Ginny shops in Lane Bryant stores, and online. The items in the Lane Bryant mail-order catalog are not the same as what you can find in their stores, and are definitely skewed more toward the more elderly demographic of plus-sized women.
Ginny definitely hadn’t been in a Lane Bryant store recently, and she doesn’t even get the mail-order catalog. So she and I figured that someone had ordered something from there as a gift for her, and that’s why we got the postcard.
My mom comes home and freaks out, sure that someone has hijacked Ginny’s Lane Bryant card, then found a Lane Bryant catalog, ordered a bunch of stuff, and had it delivered to Ginny. She starts calling everyone we know, asking, “Did you order anything from Lane Bryant for Ginny?” All of our local relatives said that they had not. So we finally talked her into just calling the company already, where they informed her that Grandma M had placed the order.
As Ginny and I had suspected.
A few weeks later we received the shipment. In the box were three items of sleepwear. The first was a perfectly reasonable cotton nightshirt in Ginny’s size. The other two were – what were they? Negligees of some sort? They were too big. They were completely see-through. They were made out of that flimsy nylon/rayon lingerie-type material, like what slips from K-Mart are made out of. One was greenish and the other was whitish-greenish. But seriously, they were completely see-through. And low-cut.
Ginny’s like “I can’t wear this in my hospital bed! People are going to see me! I may as well lie here naked!” We tried to figure out why Grandma M would have ordered something so impractical, and figured that since she doesn’t know us really, she just had to guess at Ginny’s style preferences. They were a gift, she meant well, and she’d never know if we returned them for something more suitable.
My mom and I may or may not have tried on the nightgown-things over our clothes and flapped around the house in them. I may or may not have pretended to be a ghost while wearing the whitish one. But after all that we folded them up and set them aside and promptly forgot all about them.
I was on the phone with Ginny at rehab and she was like “Hey, remember those nightgown-things Grandma M sent?”
“The see-through ones?”
“Yeah, did you send them back finally?”
“No,” she said flatly. “They were supposed to go to Grandma M’s house. She ordered them for herself.“
Excerpts from the rest of the conversation: Oh. My. God. Ohmygod! We got Grandma M’s lingerie by mistake! It’s see-through! We wore it over our clothes! I pretended to be a ghost in it! She intended to wear that giant see-through nightgown-thing to BED, with String Bean! OLD PEOPLE SEX! How do they do it? Well, she definitely couldn’t be on top. I think it’s a mechanical impossibility! And so on.
And we squealed and screamed a lot and talked about how dirty we felt and how we needed showers and electroshock therapy after that.
Oh, it was horrifying.
So now I guess we’re supposed to send it back or something. I don’t think we’ll tell her we flapped around the house in it. And I’ll try not to think about what she’ll be doing when she wears it.
I am scarred.