Idecided that my grandkids need some culture. Not that they got strep throats or nothing – not that kind of culture. I mean the kind you get at the art museum.
They are living an hour-and-a-half north of New Orleans in the countryside with birds and bees and nature and all that, but the closest thing they get to art is looking at the pictures in the post office.
So one day, when my daughter Gumdrop is feeling a little pukey, (translation: p.g. but not admitting it yet) I offer to haul the kids, Lollipop and Go-Cup – who are 5 and 3 – to the New Orleans Museum of Art to view the Walt Disney art exhibit. (Notice how people say “view” for art shows, “watch” for TV shows and “Looka that!” for wardrobe malfunctions.)
Anyway, if you ain’t viewed the Disney exhibit yet, you missed it.
Maybe I should have too. The museum people probably think so.
I ask my mother-in-law Ms. Larda to come along, being as it’s always better when the kids don’t outnumber you.
Naturally, we threaten them ahead of time, in a nice way, about not stomping up and down the marble staircase or spraying people from the water fountain or sitting down on the velvet ropes or doing anything else we can think of that they might do. We are here for culture.
So we go into the exhibit with everybody on their best behavior. We are issued these special phones that we hold to our ears and John Goodman’s voice tells us what picture to look at and all about it. Go-Cup is inspired to hold his like a microphone and sing “On Top of Spaghetti,” but Ms. Larda sticks a Tootsie Roll in his mouth and muffles him up.
The rest of us ooh and aah over the pictures and we have a nice cultural time. Then we should’ve gone home. But no, we see this little café there, and we got to go feed our faces. That is the Gunch way. We are still eating when I feel Nature call, so I leave the kids with Ms. Larda and go to the ladies’ room.
I get in a stall, I do my business and I go to leave the stall, and the latch has broke. I turn it every which way and I yank it and finally I rear back and kick it. I almost fall in the toilet, but I still can’t get the door open.
I call Ms. Larda on her cell phone, but she don’t answer. I guess she turned it to jiggle. I text message her “Am stuck in b.r. stall.” No reply.
Then I stand on the toilet and look over the top of the stall for help. There is somebody in the next stall, but I guess she didn’t expect to see me, because she lets out a yelp and runs out the restroom.
Then I’m alone.
I realize I got to slither under the stall door, and I pray to God I don’t get stuck half in and half out. I text Ms. Larda, “Slithering under door.” Then I get down on my back, and sliiide out. For once I’m grateful I ain’t too endowed in the bosom department – I actually had to turn my head so my nose don’t catch on the door; it’s that close – but at last I’m out of there.
I stand up. Then I hear my cell phone ring. It is in my purse, which is still in the stall. I am going to have to slither back under. I say “Oh poo!” (Not really, but it means the same thing.) And I start back under. I am on the floor with my head in the stall and my bottom half sticking out, when the museum guard storms in.
“Stop right there,” he says.
He thinks I’m a pervert; I just know it.
That lady from the next stall must’ve told him.
I can see the headlines, “Grandmother caught in flagrante (whatever that is) on floor of museum bathroom.”
Before he can grab my legs and drag me out, I finish sliding in. Now I’m in the stall, with him on the outside, rattling the door.
And then I hear Ms. Larda.
Now, Ms. Larda has the kind of voice that makes you sit up straight and listen. Like Morgan Freeman, but louder.
“My daughter-in-law texted me she’s trapped,” she announces. (She must’ve finally noticed the jiggle.) “I am giving you five minutes to rescue her and reunite her with her grandchildren here,” I see Go-Cup and Lollipop squatting and peering at me under the door, “or the next person I call will be my personal lawyer, Morris Bart.”
And then, without no warning, both kids scuttle under the door and get in my lap. Well, that wasn’t in the list of things we told them not to do. So now three of us are all in this stall, and it ain’t even a handicapped stall.
“Take out your walkie-talkie,” says Ms. Larda to the guard. “Tell your boss we got a entire family from Chalmette trapped in the bathroom.”
He does, and then I hear it broadcast over the PA system and bounce off the walls.
Meanwhile, I’m trying to hold all four little hands that are now in the stall with me, to keep them from touching germs.
Next, two guys come in with screwdrivers, take the door off its hinges and we walk out upright – in front of a whole crowd now assembled by the ladies room. Some of them are there to see what’s going on, but I bet a whole lot of them have been waiting to pee, poor things.
Anyway, everybody applauds and nobody says anything about me being a pervert.
And that’s how my grandchildren learned about culture.