Sep 14, 2023, 05:55AM


When he moved to Santa Barbara, he worried about finding an authentic Italian sub.

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When Jules bit into a pepperoncini, his tongue danced. The wrinkly green peppers added a vinegary crunch to his favorite sandwich: the savory, salty Italian sub.

When his granddaughter Becca opened his front door with two foot-long Italians, Jules’ mouth began watering. He figured he’d consumed about 3000 in his life. Pepperoni, hot capicola and salami. Those were his favorites, from the sub shop down the street in Philly. When he moved to Santa Barbara, he worried about finding an authentic Italian sub. Some people used prosciutto, mortadella, or ham instead of the capicola or the pepperoni. The place he ended up finding was called Nona’s. They used ham, pepperoni and salami, but they made up for it with wonderfully tangy pepperoncini. Jules had even pickled his own a few times.

Jules still had all of his original teeth. Not bad for an 83-year-old who hated going to the dentist.

Jules shuffled over to the hallway and embraced his 20-year-old granddaughter, now exactly as tall as he was. Jules had been shrinking for over a decade, while Becca had been sprouting up. They met at 5’9”. Jules’ green eyes sparkled as he peered into Becca’s hazel irises. She’d been sitting in traffic for nearly three hours, but was happy to finally arrive at her grandpa’s house. After she headed to the bathroom, they met in the dining room.

Grandpa and granddaughter sat down at the cherry wood oval dining table. Becca sorted out the sandwiches. An Italian for Jules. An egg salad with bacon for herself. Jules brought over a bag of kettle-cooked chips and some carrots.

“So Grandpa J, what you been up to?” Becca asked, mid-chomp.

“I was just watching Jeopardy here, and I must’ve dozed off, and then I was back in the late-1960s, dreaming of taking a flight to Seattle.”

“What? Wild!” Becca responded.

“I met this dazzling woman. This was before I was married and before your mother. I hadn’t thought of that in years. Funny how memories float up. I think the category on Jeopardy sent me back there. I hadn’t heard the name ‘Pan-American’ in a long time.”

Becca took a drink of sparkling water and shook her head. Grandpa always had stories. She thought of Reva’s email. “Check up on his memory. I’m worried he’s forgetting more and needs more help.”

“And what about you? How’s the girlfriend?” Jules asked.

Well, check! He remembered her girlfriend.

“This morning, Marisol got up late and was hurrying around. I got back from a run and she was all frazzled. I tried to settle her down with a hug, but she shoved me onto the couch and yelled, “Later!” as she ran out the door. She never goes to sleep before one a.m.”

“Sounds exciting!” Jules replied. “Does she study?”

“She’s doing okay in her literature classes, but struggling with Econ. Her dad’s making her minor in Econ and she hates it.”

“I don’t blame her for hating it… and I don’t blame her dad for wanting her to have a math background. Well, how about your studies?”

“I love it. Neuroscience is crazy. Psychological research is interesting. So many young tweens and young teens are at-risk. I want to help them. My professor is doing amazing research. At the same time, the deeper I go into it, the more difficult it seems to change the course we’re on with technology. People are blind to their behaviors!”

Jules took a deep breath and held out his hand toward Becca. “You’ve got a calling, Rebecca. You’re going to help many people. Take some time for yourself, too.”

They polished off their sandwiches. Jules burped with satisfaction. Then Becca burped back. Jules took a long drink of ginger ale and waited. He let out a five-second burp and then began giggling. Becca snorted. “You win, Grandpa!”

Becca had brought Monopoly with her. They used to play it on rainy days in the summer. Jules had the problem of giving his Monopoly money away under the table. He couldn’t help it.When Reva was up from the table, he’d slip his 50s to Neve and his 100s to Becca. Reva never knew why Becca often seemed to win.

It was almost 10 o’clock. Jules was happy to see the game, but asked if they might play in the morning. Becca would stay overnight and leave around lunchtime. They washed up and Jules gave Becca some clean sheets and a towel. The guest room hadn’t been used in a while. Becca gave him a long hug and then he headed to bed.

She texted Reva an update. It was one a.m. in Philly, so she knew her mom would be asleep.

“Grandpa is the same silly old guy. We’re the same height now! More tomorrow. Love you.”


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