Friday, January 18, 2013
Back in the day (1982 – 1988), I'd be in rocking chair next to my grandmother, mostly in the evening, at the end of our collective day. A real trailblazer, my grandmother was one of the first people I knew who watched CNN, and (get this) The Morton Downey Jr show. I don't think she ever watched wrestling, but I do know we had a standing date at 10:30a on Saturday mornings, to watch the only 30 minutes on television dedicated soley to fashion: Elsa Klensch's STYLE... so I could watch the runway photographers jockey for position, and marvel over the 80s Versace, and she would complain about the models' knees, but always have a good word or two for Oscar de la Renta, and "maybe" something by Karl Lagerfeld. She felt women should be dressed like women, but always waxed profoundly on "who the hell would wear that?" when a rather extreme Issey Miyake would cross the screen. And she certainly didn't like the "mannish" Armani or Dior (?) for women. No. No. NO!
But. She did have a major drug problem. Yves St Laurent's OPIUM.
How she loved her OPIUM. Two dabs: one behind each ear.
So she'd be putting her hair up in curlers towards 10p each night (8pm if I was "going out to the discos") with the little six inch round mirror propped up in "just that position", and if I rocked back and for in the rocking chair, she'd steady me and the chair with her right hand: stop that. "But gram! It's a rocking chair!" "Yes, I know, but you're doing the rocking..."
And in the last moments of her pre-slumber routines, she'd take out that small sample size bottle of OPIUM which I picked up for her on some hedonistic trip to NYC which, in those days, always included a 12+ hour shift on the dancefloor at THE SAINT. (Yes, the dancefloor, thank you. Had it been the balconies, I wouldn't be here to tell the story!)
So she would take her little bottle of OPIUM and anoint behind each ear. And that signaled the end of her evening's prepatory routine.
On night, probably stoned, unknownst to her, but really unknownst to me that she knew (she always managed to find something good to make just as my appetite cravings manifested themselves!)
So late one evening, I said "Gram. What's with the Opium?"
"I'm getting ready for the night," she'd reply.
Getting ready for The Knight, indeed.
LouLou and I made sure she had some OPIUM behind her ears, just as she would have it, right before they lowered her body, and closed the coffin.
Literally, thousands of flowers of all color and fragrance, and the funeral parlour was full of the scent of OPIUM.
The bottle which I have to this day...
So yes, my grandmother was an addict.
But I don't think she ever went to a meeting and started off by saying "Hi, I'm Gram, and I'm a friend of Yves.
Happy 102nd Birthday, Gram!
Photograph taken on the Steps of
The Metropolitan Museum of Art,
New York City
Exhibition: Treasures of The Vatican