Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Vera Veto

Almost before I learned to walk, I learned about the Vera Veto. My grandmother's name was Vera, and she helped raise my sister and me. She was a very unique woman, very opinionated, very smart, very funny, very refined (this is hard to explain, except she had very good e-nun-ci-a-tion--she grew up in an age when children had elocution lessons and she used to em-pha-size each and ev-er-y syll-a-ble), very--uh--colorful, and had been through a lot in her life--children dying, sons going off to war, teaching school, working in factories, you name it. I know that's a lot of verys--but she was very. Ver-y Ver-a.

When we were older the Vera Veto was subtle. Examples: My sister brought a boyfriend home. After he left, my grandmother shook her head and said, "He's a lit-tle smooth." Few words, but a giant Vera Veto. If she felt like we were being overly influenced by certain books, she'd make her feelings known in a quiet way. I picked up a paperback book once and found that she had written "Who says?" "Why so?" in certain spots in the book. On the back of the book, there were very enthusiastic quotes by various people. Next to each person's name, she had written, "Who he? Why should we believe him?" To this day, my sister and I like to say "Who he?"

When we were little, the Vera Veto was very loud and clear. Here are some of her vetoes.

The Vera Veto (in a dark voice): "No. There will be e-nough of that la-ter on."
The Vera Veto: "Grue-some."The Vera Veto: "Don't ev-er touch the booze. You have a mon-key on your backs. From your fath-er." Can I say how confusing this was when we were 4 and 7 years old?
Vera Veto: "Why, that's just su-gar and wa-ter." (With Hawaiian Punch, she really jumped on the syllables--possibly due to my in-cess-ant beg-ging.)

Then again, she was tricky to predict. She liked George Carlin ("Now, him. He's cle-ver"). And, she bought my sister her first record album (Sgt. Peppers from the bargain bin because the Beatles were long past their heyday--after that moment, my sister was a rabid Beatles fan when few of her peers even knew who they were).
Very Vera. To this day, I feel like I'm in huge trouble if someone uses my full first name and strongly pronounces all of the syllables...