The visit starts off kind of low on the scale. Mainly because your grandma gives really wet and gross kisses. When your she'll open the door, a line of family members will form, and each one will get a hug and a kiss, then proceed inside the house. Try and make it to the front of the line, because then you'll get a chance to enter the house first and score the La-Z-Boy chair.
This part is a climb up, since you get to go on and on about the good parts of your life. Unlike your parents, your grandma isn't interested in your financial situation, or how you're doing in school. Pick the two or three things that are actually going well in your life, and talk about them. It'll really give you a change to feel good about yourself, for a change. You can resume defending your poor life choices to your parents on the drive back.
Tell yourself whatever lie you want as to why you came here today. But the real reason is the food. You've been eyeing the kitchen ever since you got there, and so has everyone else. The smell is driving you crazy, and all you want to do is sneak in and steal a meatball.
This is where things get ugly. Everyone wants a part of the food, and it turns you all into animals. Screaming, yelling, side dishes get snatched from your hand as if they were the last beer before the prohibition era.
Someone will always over-stack his plate and get yelled at, and someone will always find himself stuck with just broccoli. I'm pretty sure this is the place where they came up with the quote "Tonight, we dine in hell".
Things quickly pick up when grandma starts sharing cute stories about you. Everyone laughs and remember how sweet you used to be. The entire conversation revolves around you and how you were smarter and prettier than all the other babies in the universe. Cherish this, it's probably the most loved you'll ever feel in your life. This won't last long though, since one story about you as a child is bound to remind your grandma about her own childhood. Which descends us way down to:
Oh my god, she's been going on for 5 hours now. Grandma's stories are the longest! She will tell you every single detail about the street she grew up in. "Billy's candy store was on the right side of the street. Billy had a dog and four cats. One was brown, and two were white. I don't remember which color the fourth one was. Maybe he was also white, but with spots. Anyway, their names were Oscar, and Martin, and....did I say Oscar already"? It'll go on forever. And the worst part is that you know that this is the one thing that separates you from the best part of the visit:
Grandmas make desserts as if she has to use all the sugar right now because the Germans are coming to take it all away. A variety of cakes, pies and fruit salad. It's a wonder grandma survived this long and didn't die of diabetes 40 years ago.
How did this happen! How did everyone go out to smoke or use the bathroom at the same time? Oh, no. She's going to start telling another story! Does this La-Z-Boy have an ejection seat?
(Graphics by: Tom Trager)