“Late Night Pop”

Mauriah Johnson, Contributor

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“Mauriah, you need to go to bed. If I tell you again it’s going to be a problem” my grandmother said every night religiously around twelve in the morning.

I’d calmly leave my wooden oak writing desk purposely letting my matching chair scrape against the hardwood floors, knowing it would make her leave sooner than later. Like clockwork she shut my door which never exactly closed properly due to it missing a door knob, so it always creepily cracked open in the middle of the night by the slightest winds.

Its almost time.

As I’d lay in bed counting the thirteen long golden-brown sticks of wood holding up the bunk bed above mine, I begin to think.

Tic. Toc. Tic. Toc.

I reach under my pillow and begin to write. I watched enough Blues Clues to know you should always keep a “handy dandy notebook,” my night light was just enough to let me see the pages.

Tic. Toc.

Writing always seemed to pass the time as I was patiently waiting.

Tic. It hits two in the morning.

It’s time.

I slid my lanky body through my cracked door, looking to the right to make sure my grandmother was sleep or at least consumed by “The Golden Girls.” Betty White always gets the job done.

Getting down the twenty-six ancient steps was the hardest part which constantly creaked and of course my room is on the third floor.

Thankfully, my grandmother’s laughter is louder than everything, especially those Roman Times steps. As I creep down the steps on the second floor, I hear keys trying to unlock the door.

Click, Click.

He’s here.

One more flight to go.

Before I can even reach the bottom, I see his jet black thick sole work boots with every step sounding like it weights a ton. His infamous masculine oil consumed the air and I can’t help but to smile before he walks in. We make eye contact.

“And what are you doing up Miss Johnson?” he asks in his slightly raspy tone.

“I couldn’t sleep”, my usual reply and lie.

“Mhm, your grandmother would have our heads if she knew you were awake and downstairs” he responds as he sits on the bottom of the steps taking off his work boots and switching to his old comfy grey slippers.

He gets up and looks at me, he knew I was lying.

“Alright, come on.”

As he lets his slippers slide behind him on the floor, we walk into the kitchen.

“Take a seat” he orders.

So, I grab my grandmothers high chair that she uses to cook and read the newspaper. He begins to take out the usual: Neapolitan and strawberry ice cream, Oreos, my grandmas’ bananas that she would flip out about when they go missing, milk, two spoons and the jumbo mug that he got from Vegas.

I’d watch precisely.

He would take extra large scoops of ice cream, putting less chocolate than vanilla and strawberry, a dash of milk because too much would make it too soggy and Oreos.

“Did you write today?” he asked, as he would slice the bananas into perfect pieces.

“Yes” I replied while creating a permanent memory of him: a freshly shaved face with clear brown skin, the smell of almost Egyptian musk oil and his signature bandanas.

“Good, I brought you a new pad and pens.”

Now, came the mixing and mashing, my favorite part. He would take the spoon and perfectly mix all the ingredients by hand clockwise as we discussed his day and how he believed I could be a writer someday… I just enjoyed his company.

“Are you ready for Pop’s Famous Milkshakes?” he’d ask, knowing I knew that meant it was ready, but he would dramatically spin the mug and place the other spoon inside, it was tradition.

I’d take the first spoonful and everything is just right, the consistency, the chunks of cookies, the taste of the bananas and the lasting strawberry flavor still tingling and lingering on your tongue.

For 12 more years, Pop continued to make me his famous milkshakes every night until he got Arthritis in his hands and now I make them for him and my closest friends.

Whenever I go out now, I still order milkshakes. It’s not the same but it’s the reminder of him.

Late nights weren’t just my favorite nights because of “Pop’s Famous Milkshakes” but because it was the only time I’d get to see him.

My first friend.

My Best Friend.

My Grandpa.