A Hundred Years Old, You Say?  

Submitted into Contest #2 in response to: Write a story about someone who defies social conventions.... view prompt



“A hundred years old, you say?”


I speak a little louder. “A hundred years old, you say?!”


I speak louder still. “A hundred years old, you say?!!”

“What?” Just then, my grandpa burst with unconstrained laughter. “I heard you the first time, Jenny. It’s just more fun this way. There’s so little I can do nowadays.”

“Very funny, Grandpa.”

“Yes, it was, wasn’t it?”

“So, how does it feel to be turning a hundred today?”

“Like any day, Jen. It’s just another number. I feel as I did at twenty, just with more wrinkles and less hair. And a sagging scrotum.”


“I meant throat, dear. A sagging throat.”

“Haha. We wanted to make it a surprise party but Mum thought it might be too much of a shock. Even though it is your birthday. I told her you would probably kinda figure it out. But she was adamant.”

“You know, I had a surprise party once – it was a hundred years ago to the date, and I was the surprise. It was your great Grandma’s birthday, they surprised her while she was nine months pregnant with me, two weeks to the due date and I became the biggest surprise of the day.”

“Grandpa, that’s just gross.” Jenny says. She knows the story but it’s always nice to hear it.

“She said it was the best day of her life.”

“I’m sure. Did she at least get cake?”

“Yes, yes, she did. And she told me her water broke on all of her nicely wrapped presents, ruining some beautiful cashmere sweaters and an old edition of a book she loved. But she always said I was worth the sodden pages and smelly clothes.”

“I’ll tell Mum.”

“Oh, don’t worry your heart about that, your mother knows this story well. I considered continuing the tradition for your mother’s birth but your grandma wasn’t having it. She told me in explicit language that I was not to try anything remotely like it for her pregnancy.”

“An eventful life. I wish my birth had been like that!”

“Oh, no, dear, your Mum wouldn’t let me do it to her either. She told me so when she first found out she was pregnant with you.”

“That’s too bad. I would have loved a story like yours.”

“Yes, but they felt it wasn’t safe to have a surprise like that during pregnancy. For my part, I think it is an excellent way to induce pregnancy, without the drugs and all the hoop-la they do nowadays. Life was so much more fun before.”

“Tell that to Mum.”

“Your mother is far too cynical. If it told her now how much I would love a surprise birthday party, she would tell me it’s an excellent way to induce my death.”

“Well I’m doing it for my baby. When I get pregnant, I want a surprise party for my birthday. The only problem is, who’s going to throw it for me? I can act surprised. That part is easy.”

“It won’t be a surprise then. Maybe if they chose a different day?”

“Yeah Grandpa. Convince them, if you can. I think it would be fun.”

“Your mother wouldn’t agree.”

“Don’t tell her, then. It can be a double surprise.”

“Her and you! Haha! With that sense of humor, you should be able to pull any number of handsome young men.”

“I’m already dating one. But pregnancy and children are a long way off. We haven’t even discussed it yet.”

“How long have you been dating?”

“Three months. I was thinking of bringing him here today to meet everyone. But it’s a little too soon and he felt he’d just be in the way.”

“What’s his name?”


“How does he treat you?”

“Fine. He treats me fine. A perfect gentleman albeit in the modern age. It’s a little different nowadays Grandpa.”

“The old traditions never should have died out.”

“I think your birth-birthday tradition is worth keeping around. It’s so funny, I always laugh when I hear it.”

“Do you want to marry him?”

“It’s only been three months. I’ve got a carton of milk I’ve had longer than that.”

“I knew I would marry your grandma the same day I met her.”

“I dunno, Grandpa. I don’t think it works like that anymore.”

“What do you think in your heart? If he asked you now, today, would you say yes?”

“Yeah, I think I would. But guys nowadays don’t know the day they meet you.”

“I think they do, honey. It’s just not popular anymore to say it.”

“Well, if he does know, he’s been doing a pretty good job of hiding it.”

“Ask him dear.”

“No-oh Grandpa, that is the worst thing I could do! Talk about scare they guy away.”

 “Your Grandma asked me, and I’m still here.”

“Well, things were different back then. Men were different. Relationships were different. Love was different.”

“I suppose it was. Tell me, would you have liked life back then?”

“I think I would have. I love the stories you and Grandma used to tell. They were always so romantic.”

“That’s because we were romantic. Romance is a decision of the people involved. Not a result of the times.”

“It’s not cool, anymore, to open doors, or hold out a chair. But Gerry does get me flowers on special occasions.”

“Mphff, special occasions. I would get your Grandma flowers just because. Let me tell you what, find a man who will show you he loves you every day. Someone who just can’t wait till your birthday or anniversary to buy you chocolates or flowers. To show you that he loves you.”

We were suddenly and abruptly interrupted by well-wishing family and friends singing:

 “Happy Birthday to you. Happy Birthday to you. Happy Birthday Dear Grandpa Martin. Happy birthday to you.”

“Make a wish Grandpa Martin.”


Ten days later, Grandpa was dead. One hundred years and ten days old. The sad thing was, he never got to be surprised one last time because we were all too afraid of losing him. We lost him anyway, in the end. It didn’t matter. He never got the send off he should have had – a send off that would have paid tribute to how he entered this world. He never got a last surprise birthday party.


Two years later, I was thrown a surprise birthday party. And, lo and behold, my water broke. I got my very own surprise child, just like Grandpa Martin. And a year and six months before that, I met my husband Conrad who knew he loved me the day we met.  

The END. 

August 11, 2019 22:22

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