Coming home for Mother's Day may have surprises, even for the jaded.
I leaned over and put my foot out to keep my unleashed little mutt from chasing down the approaching little pug lawfully bound to his owner. It was the least I could do. My dog was fine at all other times, but when another dog was approaching, he just lost his little mind and wanted to go over and meet them, hump them, or some such thing. It didn’t matter if the other dog was growling, barking, male or female, confused, or had foam dripping from its rabid mouth; my dog wanted to meet him.
Luckily, the owner up ahead decided to cross the street. I guess it was the least she could do. I think I heard her mutter, “irresponsible bitch,” but that was okay. I can be an irresponsible bitch. It was then that the little old lady barked out, “That dog should be on a leash.” “And so should you,” I wanted to say, but I had been raised better. By the look I gave the old biddy, she must have read my mind. She took her time re-crossing the street and I thought she was going to try and hit me with her cane. She leaned over and whispered harshly into my ear, “I’ve learned two lessons as I approach old age, dear. One is to open my mouth and the other is that if my soul is still in my chest as the moon rises at the end of an eve, then I have survived another day and I can rest easy and pray for another. If not, then it’s too god damn late to give a crap.”
“Approaching old age? What soul?” I burst out laughing. She laughed too. We parted knowing one another on a level the years could not divide. My day had been made and it was still early.
After my little delay, I rushed home and pushed the little pooch through the doggie door and whirled around just in time to see my eighteen-wheeler ride to work pass right on by, early for a change. “Son-of-a-bitch”, I screamed. I could swear I saw a snicker on her face. Every day it seemed, she managed to make me miss her bus, either by being too late for me to wait, or on rare occasions, by being early. I think she must have had a thing for me. If I hadn’t had such a good morning, I would have called her the “c” word, but I save that for special occasions.
I took off my heels and replaced them with my walking shoes. I just hoped I’d get to work without breaking a sweat. As summer approached, I realized, this was going to get ridiculous. I reminded myself that it was a good morning and started off. I knew I’d have to remind myself again later. One of my friends told me she drank a “Hard Lemonade” each morning before work. When asked why, she offered, “They’re such bitches. I have to have some chemicals on board so I’m too inebriated to whip out my Uzi and do a spray-down.” I knew what she meant. I wasn’t quite there yet, but I was getting close.
I’d made it ten blocks and had two more to go before I felt my cell phone go off. My mother was calling to remind me it was Mother’s Day in two weeks, as though any of us could forget. Even if we tried, she’d remind us. She told me she expected me at one o’clock sharp. I thought about what my new friend had said and managed to replace my bottom lip clenched between my teeth with a wide-open smile just before I pushed myself through the turnstile for yet another day of misery and toil. The things we do for rent, a few new outfits, and dog food.
As I pulled up in the cab two weeks later, I looked hopefully for another vehicle signaling another anybody was there besides my Mom. There appeared to be no one. I was doomed, and I had taken my time getting out there. It was two minutes after one. Alas, my sisters and brother were better at delaying the inevitable than I was. I’d get even with them later, maybe by telling a juicy secret or two or by explaining to my mom what the difference was between bisexuality and being out and out gay.
I took in a deep breath, grabbed my obligatory flowers, and exited the cab. I tipped the driver, not so much for not getting lost, but more for allowing me release a little anxiety and mother-induced guilt. After all, I was still unmarried, hadn’t had a relationship last more than twenty minutes, if he could hold back, and was clearly not working up to the potential of a young woman who graduated near the top of her law school class. I was such a slacker and my mother managed to blithely remind me of it on a regular basis, and yet, she still had the audacity to wonder why she never got a phone call and had to get my new cell number from my sister.
Tapping on the door, I awaited my executioner. Nobody entered uninvited, not even with a key and the house on fire. Instead of my mother opening the door, I was greeted by a handsome young man, closer to my age than I liked, but closer to my taste than I could stand. He motioned me in like he knew me, took the flowers, and pointed towards the sun-room. “The good ladies await you. Girl, are you up for it?” I thought, “Just what I need, a bisexual illiterate set up on Mother’s Day.” But maybe he was good for a quickie on the down-low I thought, as his buns flexed while I followed him out to the sun-room.
Another surprise! There was another person with my Mom. Then I remembered he’d said ladies. “There goes the illiterate line,” I thought. She was around the same age as my mom, well groomed in a mostly white pantsuit, and wearing the wide-brimmed hat women were allowed to wear on Mother’s day and Easter. Even so, I knew she was a lesbian; after all, I was a lawyer, and we were teeming with them. She smiled pleasantly as my mother introduced her as Betsy, Ron’s, “Mr. Buns” mom.
We sat drinking iced tea, nibbling at brunch, and chipping away at small-talk. The food was beginning to get stuck in my throat. Time was not passing as quickly as I would have liked and my siblings were nowhere to be seen. My Mom didn’t seem to notice, so of course, I brought it up. She said they’d been there earlier and had left. Then she looked squarely at me and said she’d saved me for last. I felt like a feeble helping of wilted lettuce. “Mr. Buns” looked over at me and smiled like a Cheshire cat, just like his mom. I was beginning not to like either of them. I’ve never liked it when other people knew things before me.
Mom took another bite of her salad, smoothed her napkin, and proceeded to explain exactly who Betsy was.
I don’t believe I took a breath until the cab pulled up in front of my house. I don’t remember if I took another bite of my meal, swallowed any more tea, or spoke another word. I think I thanked my Mom for the nice meal and pleasant company, at least I hope I did. I think she thanked me likewise, and for the flowers. I think I wished her luck in her new romance and I think she wished me the same, even though I don’t currently have a romance. That woman never has been subtle.
As I grabbed my dog to take him out for a walk, I remembered what the old woman had said. I smiled again. I guess I should just pray for another day. I had survived Mother’s Day.