Mornings were my favorite time to work. I couldn’t help but fall into the opening routine. One liter of hot water for the three types of iced tea, just under three buckets of ice filled up the steel tank out front, count each register down from $200.00. It got to the point where I didn’t have to think about it anymore. My body sleepily moved around the store, filling up sugar and cream, turning the big key in the gate, and squeaking it open.
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it, seeing as I always had trouble waking up early. I would let my alarm run for hours, if my family let me. My parents had their unique ways of waking up grouchy teenagers.
My father was impatient in his approach. He most enjoyed two loudly exclaimed phrases: “wakey wakey, eggs and bakey,” and “nobody likes a grouchbowski.”
Grouchbowski, by definition is an endearing form of the noun ‘grouch’. i.e.: grumbler, killjoy, crab, spoilsport; all of which are delightful words. Used frequently in an attempt to both annoy and cheer up a grouchy Polack. The term ‘Polack’ derives from a misconception that the word “Polak” means a polish male. In reality, it’s just one of those words, those ethnic slurs that only similar people may use. Except my father wouldn’t let me. The word Grouchbowski grew in popularity during the winter season in eastern Poland. When all poles were grouchy, and many were bowski’s. The word is used most properly in early hours, in cold weather, or when said pole is going off to work or school. Use of the word often elevates such behavior: sulking, moroseness, and showing discontent in an irritable way. This makes it most commonly used when a pole is leaving, rather than arriving.
My mother, with her soft and plushy post-partum body, would turn on my light, crawl into bed with me, and place her cold feet next to mine. Even in Florida she was always cold. She would stay under there until she had sucked all of the warmth from my body, asking me in a murmur what I was going to do that day, what clothes she should wash for me, when I was going to clean my room. I would always reply sharply, in sleepy grunts, but her voice always like distant music, would keep me from falling back into that dark sleep.