Sam, Samuel to the elders in the room, is on his phone at the dinner table. Sam is twenty-two, and currently single but putting chips down on a variety of numbers at the casino of online dating. He is the youngest member of our family.
Grandpa, who some around the table call Gramps, doesn’t like that these little devices have stolen our attention. While sitting next to Sam, who he calls Samuel, Grandpa grabs the miniature television from his grandson’s hands.
“Hey… give it back.”
“Whose this little lady? Is this your girlfriend?” Grandpa says to my brother.
Samuel is embarrassed and annoyed. He does not respond.
“She’s cute. Nice tits, too.”
Grandma died four years ago, and the rumor around the retirement home is that Gramps has been a bit of a hound since then. My mother, Grandpa’s daughter, called him a geriatric gigolo once. A nurse at Shady Creek Acres called to let mom know Gramps was trading sexual favors for backgammon pieces and powerful pain medication. She’s ashamed of him. I think it’s great.
“Gross, dad.” My mother looks disgusted.
My father starts to laugh.
“Don’t encourage him. Dad, give Samuel his phone back.”
“No.” Grandpa has already figured out how to swipe to see more pictures of women in the area. Samuel reaches for the phone but is rejected by old man strength. “Not today kiddo. Wow, phenomenal.”
Samuel reaches again for the phone.
“Back the hell up. What is this for? You know all these women?”
“It’s an app for dating.”
“You’re dating all these women?” Gramps says. His eyes haven’t left the screen yet. His finger keeps swiping left.
“No. Well, not all of them.”
“Make an app for me.” Grandpa hands Sam his phone back and pulls his own out of a little case attached to his belt.
Mom and dad aren’t happy about this, but my brother and I download the app for him. We set up a quick profile with a bio that says, “Barely a day over 80.” When we ask him to smile he puts two thumbs up next to his face. His teeth are white and still real. It’s a good picture. I send it to my phone.
He keeps calling it a video game. He keeps calling them ladies. There are a surprising number of women his age on the service. He wonders out loud to the dinner group if any of these women are already dead. The ones that he doesn’t match with, “They’re goners.”
Mom is embarrassed, more than she was before based on the angle her head is hanging.
“She’s pretty,” dad says. He’s now participating. Mom starts cleaning up the table and carrying things into the kitchen. She looks miserable.
“Gramps, you don’t need to swipe right on all of them.”
“Sure I do. Oh, I recognize her. Gertrude, you saucy minx.”
I love seeing Grandpa so playful. We don’t get to see him as often as we used to before Grandma died. This is fun.