Oct. 9, 2013 at 11:39 AM ET
In "Granny is My Wingman," Kayli Stollak finds herself emotionally spiraling after a bad break-up. Confused by the conflicting advice she's receiving, she turns to her favorite source of solid wisdom: her grandmother. Here's an excerpt.
Two months after Charlie and I first broke up over Skype, I was having lunch with my friend Tom when I naively declared, “I’m over Charlie.”
Tom laughed and said, “Maybe, but I doubt it. You’re gonna feel it all over again when you find out he’s moved on. When he’s in a full-on relationship again, that’s rock bottom.”
Dammit, Tom. There was Jenna Jones with her arm around Charlie, smugly grinning at me on Facebook — and there I was eating a pint of ice cream at rock bottom.
I got up and paced around my apartment. I needed someone to ground me, soothe me, and make me laugh at the ridiculous nature of my spaz attack. I could call my friends, but they’d all tell me the same thing: “She’s a placeholder until he comes back to you.” “You’re soul mates, this is just a phase.”
I didn’t want any more bulls**t. I needed the truth, even if it was going to hurt. And there’s only one place to go for that sort of pain — my granny. She has one setting: real. She’s the only lady in my life with enough scandals and experiences under her belt to put me to shame. “I know how things take place and why they take place,” she says, “because I’ve done it all.”
The lady has been everywhere.
“Yugoslavia is actually very pretty, if you’re into stray dogs and misery,” she would say in her thick, nasally Jewish New Yorker accent.
Granny is part Larry David, part Joan Rivers. She’s not the sweet-talking, cookie-baking, crocheting type. She’s a s**t-talking, straight-shooting, adventure-seeking, gossipy yenta.
I called her down at her home in South Florida and dramatically recounted my Facebook revelation. “You dodged a bullet,” she huffed. “If you’d stayed with him you’d be knocked up, fat, miserable, and married.”
“But I love him!” I yelled. I was being a brat. I was pretty sure I wasn’t in love with him anymore, but the sight of Jenna Jones was making me think, say, and do things I didn’t mean.
“No you don’t,” she insisted. “He was a nice guy but he’s a beta, you need an alpha.” She paused. “You know, I told your mother you two would never work out.”
I moaned, partly in protest, partly in agreement.
“Are you sorry it happened?” she asked.
“No, of course not.” I was slowly gaining back my sanity and perspective.
“Exactly,” she said, “not sorry it happened. He was part of your growing up. Part of your life. Now it’s time to move on.”
After dealing with countless hysterical phone calls in the months following my breakup, about how Charlie was “the one” and how could I ever meet anyone who would compare, I wore Granny down. I opened an old wound and brought memories to the surface that she had thought were long buried.
Days after my Jenna Jones breakdown she called me. “I need to tell you something.”
“Lay it on me,” I demanded.
She huffed, she hemmed, she paused, she tried to change the subject. Then, finally, with a stern tone she spoke. “I called him.”
I had no idea who “him” was.
“Ira,” she whispered.
I thought for a moment but couldn’t recall the name.
“Who is that?”
She practically screamed through the receiver. “The affair, goddammit!”
Ira and Granny had an affair that ran longer than her marriage. It persisted even after her divorce, carrying on for a total of thirty-two years. Somewhere in the shuffle of my own life and heartbreak, I neglected to learn about Granny’s.
It had been decades since they spoke and almost thirty years since they ended their relationship. He was the love of her life, her love drug, the man she ended her marriage for, the one who no one measured up to. It was the romance that she had never moved past.
Granny saw my fear and heartache and they awakened within her the love story of her own life. Ira was her Charlie. The feelings were still there. So she called him. After more than thirty years he still had the same home number. When he heard her voice through the receiver he asked, “Is this the little lady that got away from me?”
My heart broke for Granny and Ira. The two of them sat on the phone crying about how they were the love of each other’s life and the regret they carried for not trying harder to make it work, for not recognizing the rarity in their spark.
What a pathetic pair. Granny and me, living in the past, fearing the future, and being overall bitter b**ches. We were wasting time wallowing on the sidelines.
I knew I needed to get moving with my romantic life again, but the dating world was foreign to me.
“You know your sister’s moving in with her boyfriend?” Granny called to inform me. “You know she met him on one of those dating websites?”
This was not a subtle hint.
“Are you trying to suggest something?” I asked.
“Cool your jets and lose the tone, kid,” she warned. “It wouldn’t be a bad idea for you to get out there and mix it up.”
I wasn’t about to cave. “What about you? Why don’t you online date? You should mix it up.”
With some serious coaxing on both ends, we came to terms with the idea and decided to follow the favorite granddaughter’s lead. It’s an experiment, we told each other, as a way to ease ourselves back into the dating game.
We committed to our dating journey for twelve months. Over the course of the year we’d sharpen our dating skills. It was time to relinquish our egos, bury the stigma, and embrace the humility of the online dating process.
Excerpted from Granny is My Wingman by Kayli Stollak. © 2013 Kayli Stollak. Published with permission from Amazon Publishing/New Harvest. To learn more about Kayli and Granny’s online dating adventures, visit www.GrannyisMyWingman.com