"That's an awful lie! You must have imagined it!" My grandma Cleo crossed her arms and turned her head away from me, lips pursed together in disgust.
It was Wednesday. I always went to her house on Wednesday evenings to do her hair before I drove her to Bingo.
"Turn your head back around, Cleo so I can finish!" I turned her head myself, my hands flattening her cheeks and forcing her head back in position.
"Don't you boss me! Your Momma better have taught you to respect your elders!" I could imagine her frown even when I was looking at the wispy white curls in the back of her head.
Cleo was raised with a few strict moral guidelines. You never crossed your elders. You finished your plate before you got dessert. And you had good posture.
Cleo was also racist. Her parents raised her that way. Her Daddy once shot a black man. The man came to her house and said some mean things. Her Daddy shot him dead, right there on the porch; right in front of his children. Then he told them 'that's how you deal with them blacks'. I know this story because Cleo had regaled us with it at every family get-together since I was a baby.
"I'm not lying Cleo." I say after a deep calming breath. "Haven't you watched the news?"
"I stopped watching the news when that black weatherman was hired!"
"Oh Cleo! They are PEOPLE just like you and me!"
"Don't you disrespect me!" Her eyes got big, her face flushed and her finger pointed angrily at my face, dangerously close to my left nostril.
"You want to go to Bingo half-done?!" I threatened her. She was really trying my patience.
"It's the only place NOT infiltrated by them Blacks! Infestation!" She mumbled to herself. I turned on the news so i wouldn't have to listen to her. I continued curling her thinning locks throughout the weather report, and then a face flashed on the screen with the American flag in the background.
"Look Cleo! See?! I was right!" I turned her head again and held it facing the TV.
"That's abominable! Horrible! What's this country coming to?! I'm ashamed to be American!"
"Cleo! That's not nice!"
"I might as well die now!"
"But you wouldn't get to share your opinions with those ladies at Bingo tonight. You know Sadie will have an opinion on this." I coerced her to consider gossiping over laying down to die. She chose gossiping.
"What was his name? I need to get it right if I am to speak ill of him in front of the ladies."
"O'Bama, grandma. And he's our new President, so you'd better speak nicely!"