If you don't have a sassy Grandma in your life, you are definitely missing out...
Most of you, I suspect, probably don't. Perhaps the Mum's of your Mummy's and Daddy's are the quintessential Granny-types portrayed on TV and film: Conservative, well-mannered, bakers and knitters who don short, permed coifs, over sized glasses and elastic waistband-clad clothing. These are the Grandma's who, like Pauly's mom in Juno, were "possibly attractive once," but in whom there is presently no semblance of sexiness. (If you have this kind of Grandma, I imagine you just shuddered and let out a knee-jerk "Ewwww..." at the thought of Grandma's former...or gasp, current...sex life). Double shudder...
For the Sassy Grandma, however, sexy isn't her antonym...it's her moniker. Sassy Grandma's live their lives no holds barred, with a "Life's too short. I'm gonna do what I want!" motto. To them, there is no satisfactory reason to possess an internal filter for conversation, or to shift their wardrobe into Frump-ville just because their baby had a baby. "Oh, no," Sassy Grandma says, "We ain't havin none of that..." (Insert "up snap" here).
Sassy Grandma's come in all shapes and sizes. Some, like the 83 year old yoga instructor from Australia, are bringin' sexy back with their Mrs. Robinson-esque cougar charm. You can't tell them they can't shop at Vicki's, especially if they're still rockin a hot body (but even if they aren't, the girls going south is certainly the prime excuse for a push-up bra...). Conversely, some Granny's have completely let themselves go, without a care in the world. They've had their fun and are quite content not to re-live their corseted and stilettoed glory days.
The craziest example of this I've seen of the latter phenomenon was in Russia. I swear that every Russian woman under the age of 30 looks like Barbie: Stick-thin with perfect skin, donning designer fashions and 4-inch heels. (I always warn women that a trip to Russia will take a toll on your confidence if you're not careful). Amongst this land of models, however, tucked away in little cottages away from the city are the Russian women over 30. The contrast is shocking. It's like the minute a Russian woman starts having kids, there is absolutely no turning back to the days of youth. Nearly every Russian mom/grandma that I met was overweight and made zero attempt to dress attractively. And while the probing into that particular trend is blog-worthy in and of itself, I'll just say for the sake of brevity that at a certain age, these Grandma's simply stop worrying about their identity. Their sass, then, comes not from their "I still got it" insistence, but from their "I don't care what you think" lack of tact. No doubt you've experienced this: Old people who have no trouble telling you how it is...
Several months ago, one of my students told me the story of her own "lack of tact" Sassy Grandma. Before going to Australia, this beautiful, young California girl went to visit her grandmother, reminding her what she would be doing over the next six months: "Remember, Nana? I'm going to be a missionary!"
Without missing a beat, Nana looked at her gorgeous granddaughter and retorted with ghetto sass: "You don't look like no damn missionary to me!"
After literally laughing out loud at the re-telling of the tale, the next logical question simply begged to be asked: "Well, what is a missionary supposed to look like?" Over the last several months since I've been home, I have been collecting the consensus from various sources. Here's the latest noteworthy observation...
A few nights ago, a friend here in Tulsa invited me to a girl's night with some ladies she knew from church. When she asked if she could bring along a missionary friend (i.e. Me), the hostess paused.
"Um, I bought some wine..."
Quickly deducing the implication of her hesitation, my friend offered some additional information to the hostess: "Oh, she's not like that. She's cool."
The hostess let out a sigh, "Oh, good. Then, sure, bring her along!"
My friend told me about her little pre-introduction of me as we were driving to the party: "I had to describe you because I think she thought that you were like some 50 year old, never married, wears-skirts-to-her-shins type who thinks alcohol is evil," she said, "You know, because that's what a lot of people think of when they hear "missionary..."
Yet again! Why is "hot, young missionary" such an oxymoron? Maybe that's the new "M" word that scared away all the men I'd met over the last several months (Ponder, ponder...). Seriously, though, I don't get the stigma. The night I sat down to write this blog, I was sporting a super chic leopard-print dress (male-friend approved, with an embarrassed smile and a "Oh yeah..." thumbs up), waiting for my roommate to finish getting ready so we could go out dancing. I like to have fun, but I keep it clean. I know I'm not the only one, but apparently we need better PR or something, because folks clearly have not made that "Sexy, single missionary" association yet...
Which brings me to my advice for the day: Sack the stereotypes! The ones you've placed on others and the ones people have tried to put on you. It's like me: I'm this ultra girly-girl who loves reading, researching and deep, philosophical debates. There doesn't seem to be much precedent for that (no one else at the library appears to care about accessorising), but that's what I have to work with. I've quit trying to figure myself out long ago and I now just embrace the random conglomeration of "ness" that is me.
It's like Sassy Grandma's. People might try to put them in their place and tell them to act like a Grandma "should." But, there is something to be said for the no-nonsense Nana. If life is too short for them not to care what others think, we might as well run with that wisdom while we are young. (This would be the "No fear of man!" speech I was always giving my students, for those who remember...). After all, what fun is life without a little box-breaking and head-turning every now and then?
A virtual toast to all you non-teetotaling ministry gals who love Jesus, dance parties and cute shoes. Keep spreadin' the word that we actually do exist... ;)