There was a running saga in my family about Granny’s ban list.
I am not sure who the original offender was, but I learned about it at an early age.
I mentioned I wanted to go somewhere and was promptly informed it was not going to happen.
“How come?” I asked.
“It’s banned,” I was told.
We had been there before – had the place closed?
“Banned” was the response.
It took me days before I was able to get to the bottom of this matter.
“Someone there ticked off your grandmother,” was my uncle’s explanation.
“What did they do?” I wanted to know. Someone had angered Granny and not only lived to tell about it but made it to the banned list.
My uncle had to gather his thoughts to recount the story; not all of Granny’s doings and sayings were fit for young audience.
“We’re not really sure, but it made her angry. You know how she is.”
Yes, I did. Granny was stubborn, obstinate, and about as gentle as a rattlesnake when she didn’t get her way. I am just like her.
But I was a child and at an impasse.
I wanted something from a store that was on Granny’s banned list.
The banned list was a pretty big deal. When I was growing up in the ’70’s and ‘80’s, we didn’t have Amazon or Walmart. We had one TG&Y, maybe two furniture stores, and a McDonald’s and Dairy Queen. There was none of this driving 30 minutes or more just to get something you ‘wanted’ and definitely not to go for dinner. No, if we had to go anywhere outside of our little hamlet, it was a dingdang all day trip.
So, my already limited options were drastically reduced.
“What am I gonna do?” I asked my uncle.
“You ain’t gonna get it from that store,” he said. “I will see if I can find it somewhere else for you.”
He looked, but no luck. And my uncle would search every corner of the Earth for me; still, he wasn’t able to find whatever it was I just knew I could not live without.
Until, one day, he knocked on my door and handed me a package. “Don’t say a word,” he instructed me. I just nodded and took the bag of subterfuge.
We both kept our mouths shut, but there was no escaping Granny.
She saw the toy a few days later and knew where it came from.
“Who bought this?” she wanted to know.
I didn’t say anything.
“I know I have made it clear that place was on the banned list,” she said.
I was not about to rat out my uncle. No way, Jose. I just kept my mouth shut and let Granny stew.
“Has anyone ever gotten off the banned list?” I asked Bobby a few days later.
He shook his head. “I don’t think so. She typically sticks to her guns. We are gonna plead the fifth on this though. And you can honestly say you didn’t know where I got it, because you were not with me.”
I nodded. That was a brilliant truth – I had not been with him, so I didn’t have any knowledge of where it was purchased, or when for that matter. If we had been really smooth, we would have said Bobby got it for me before the ban was even enforced.
Granny’s ban list grew over the years, to the point I am surprised we had people we could go see and stores to frequent. It expanded to other counties and I think included a church and maybe even a hospital or two.
I have even started keeping a banned list, though unlike my grandmother, I do offer a path to redemption. Well, sometimes, that is.
There’s a place I run by a couple of nights a week after work because my child thinks he will starve on the 8-mile car ride home. It was on the ban list for a while but had redeemed itself about a year ago.
Recently, we rushed through the drive-through so he could get home in time to get ready for a school function within an hour. Instead of the Coke he ordered, he got water.
“Maybe they heard the order wrong,” I posited.
A few days later, he was craving something from there again. As I pulled out my debit card to pay, the receipt from the last visit was with it. I checked. I was charged $1.69 for the Coke.
I mentioned it to the lady at the drive-through.
“Did you call them Friday?” she asked.
We were racing home, rushing around, trying to find everything he needed before he had to be back out at the door. I had barely got him out the door in record time; no, I had not called. I was still recovering from it.
“See, they write it down, and it goes in a book. And you have to do it right when it happens, or it doesn’t count.”
“So, I can’t show you the receipt now and tell you?”
A place I spend probably $50 or more dollars at a week every week was going to lose a customer over a fountain Coke.
And what I saw was how Granny’s angry logic suddenly made perfect sense.