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Birthday Cake, Orange Jumpsuits, and Grandma

Me, mom, Grandma and my sister Anita

The trip started as every visit home should with a bonus…Grandma was there!  Grandma was so happy to see me.  She looked up, smiled that 100 watt smile, and with a twinkle in her eye she said “Ohhh, look at those cheeks” and squeezed them.  Picturesque?  Sweet?  Ok naive one, keep reading…

The anticipation of my mom’s 60th birthday celebration was bigger than the Oscars.  The fact that she turned 60 was not actually the highlight.  It was the fact that I don’t EVER remember her having a party. She’s not really the party type which is comical because she is a certified event planner and throws all types of events for others.

So mom decided that she would throw herself a shindig; a very unique one to seal the wax on her big day. Mom loves to cook and over the past few years has been taking classes at The Viking Cooking School.  She made arrangements for a private class for me, my sister, grandma and four friends that enjoy cooking.  When I told a few people about this they thought it was really cool.  A few of my friends said “Ok…that’s interesting” which could be code for weird, ‘boughie‘, etc.  They don’t know my mom that well.  She is a “beat to my own drum, keep it real” type of person so she is not a traditional gal.

Now, getting back to the “fat cheeks” part. Grandma gives me a big hug, the once over and uttered those bone crushing words: “You’ve gotten fat.”  REALLY!  I told grandma that I had actually lost 10 lbs and some body fat since she saw me last year.  She looked at me again with no verbal response. That comment did not sway her opinion so it was no point saying anything else.   As I sulked and did the walk of shame, I slumped down on the couch and proceeded to catch up.  I saw her lips moving but I couldn’t tell you what she said.

Mom & Dad at dinner

Picture by Keith Bowen

The Chef giving us instructions

The next day, my dad took us all to breakfast and I sat next to grandma.  Sometimes I can be a glutton for punishment, so I figured I would try it again. She saw me and smiled again with that twinkle in her eyes. We ordered our food and drinks and chatted a bit.  Everything was going great! My drink came first-a nice cup of hot chocolate with whip cream and peppermint drizzle.  She looked at the cup and said “Oooh, now I see why you are gaining so much weight.”  I bit my lip as visions of the elder abuse commercials went before my eyes.  The next vision was a set of prison jumpsuits.  I didn’t say anything.  We were black children raised southern missionary Baptist.  It doesn’t matter how old you get and who you turn out to be in life—you can’t cuss out grandma.  The food came and I ate half of it and packed the rest (which is what I always do).  No positive comment about that.  This was not the sweet old lady that I remembered from my childhood.

Living in Peace

Later in the day, we finally made it to the cooking school.  It was really cool.  They had a nice table set up with fruit, veggies, cheese, crackers and an assortment of beverages.  Mom had some aprons made with each of our names on them at each setting.  The instructor invited us over to the work station where we each had a cutting board, a huge knife, and other random items. Remembering that orange jumpsuits are not my color and horizontal striped ones would make me look even fatter, I did not pick the station next to grandma.  I wanted to enjoy my snacks and wine in peace…with the free world.

There was a turn away from the focus on my fat. Grandma asked the chef if he had his own restaurant, because all of the ‘good chefs’ have one. OUCH!  He told her no.  Grandma proceeded to tell him that she understood and that she wouldn’t be bothered with that headache either.  My sister and I just looked at each other and did our private chuckle that we do.  Once we sat down to eat, grandma tasted the green beans that had been flash cooked and were nice and crisp.  She leaned over to mom and whispered “These green beans aren’t cooked all the way…”  My sister and I looked at each other again, wondering why she didn’t broadcast this to everyone.  Oh well!

I look forward to my next trip to Atlanta towards the beginning of the summer.  If my plans go well, I would have lost another 15-20 lbs and a few strokes of body fat by then.  If she grabs my cheeks and says the bone crushing phrase, “Baby, you look ‘po as a rail (too skinny).’  You need to put some meat on your bones,” I will just smile, sit on the couch and chat.  I’ll actually listen this time.

Personalized apron

P.S. If you are wondering about the birthday cake, mom didn’t have one.  Like I said, mom does her own thing.

P.S.S. Grandma, I know you’re a voyeur on Facebook these days and will eventually find your way to this post.  Charge it to my head, not my heart…You know I love you!


**All Photography cooking class photos by Keith Bowen**




Everyone with their personalized aprons





Permanent link to this article: http://www.keepitmovingblog.com/2012/03/30/birthday-cake-orange-jumpsuits-and-grandma/


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  1. Em

    Way not to slap gmom. You are too cute for jail!

    1. Nichole Renee

      Emily, You’re right about that!

  2. Valerie

    Sorry Nichole, I apologize on behalf of my mother and your grandma. She is who she is. 😀

    I’m glad you could fly down for my birthday weekend and glad we could provide some entertainment for your blog. Nice post!

  3. shawn claybrooks

    Girl i was reading this while in the bed with my hubby and he was trying to go to sleep or trying to get me off the computer (booty call lololol) when all of a sudden I rtried to hold in my laughter and couldn’t anymore, girl as i read this I hollered laughing……this was soooo funny……girl you need to go back and see grandmom with your girdle on and suck it in, if she is anything like my grandmother she will find something else to say lololol

    1. Nichole Renee

      Shawn, I KNEW you would get a kick out of that one when you read it. I will take your advice and let you know how that works out, lol!

  4. Holly Master

    Nichole, your Grandmother sounds just like mine! And what an excellent birthday celebration idea! Looks like fun!!

    1. Nichole Renee

      Holly, she usually is not like that and it threw me off. The party was great and we had a great time. Thanks for taking time to read my blog and thanks so much for subscribing. Feel free to refer to your friends and family!

  5. Kate

    This was hilarious. I apologize for enjoying your pain so much. I have an almost identical story involving my grandfather from a few years back…. I understand!
    P.S. The cooking class sounds like a blast!

    1. Nichole Renee

      No problem. You know there is always some crazy drama going on in my life, so this is just another thing. I thought it was hilarious too! Did you want to share your grandfathers story?

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