Yesterday morning I was in the kitchen fixing a cup of coffee. Coffee poured, sugar added, I was ready to put in a dollop of milk.
I opened the refrigerator door, I took out the bottle of milk, and…
My grandmother said, “The milkman came? Is it fresh?”
Now, I am not someone who’s quite awake until the third or fourth cup of coffee. This was merely the second.
“The milkman?” I said. Realization dawned. “There probably hasn’t been a milkman for thirty, even forty years.”
My grandmother looked at me. “Yes, there is. We always had a milkman on the farm.”
My grandmother left the farm when she was sixteen or seventeen. That was seventy years ago. “A milkman can’t compete with the grocery stores, you know. Not when anyone can go out, anytime, and buy as much milk as they want, when they want. Grocery stores put the milkman out of business.”
She said nothing for a moment. Then, “Kids today don’t understand. They don’t know what they’re missing. A milkman was a very important person.”
“He was,” I said. It was best to agree with her.
This was, all things considered, one of our more… normal conversations. My grandmother’s sense of time is wonky, at best. She can’t understand why the Evening Sun isn’t delivered anymore, when it hasn’t been published in years. It’s completely reasonable to her that the oven is over a hundred years old and an antique. Or that she’s had lunch with Alexander the Great. Time is wonky.
Her sense of place, however? Oh, let’s not even go there. I will say this–her claims to the contrary, she did not take a bus trip through Afghanistan in the 1980s. It just didn’t happen.
But milkmen? That’s positively reasonable. 🙂