Monday, November 17, 2008
Talk To Me, Like (Mothers) Do
Conversation With My Mom. A Play in One Act.
*Ring* *Ring* (Ok, that's not necessarily accurate, since I actually have a ringtone on my cellphone, but I'm not going to write down the lyrics to "Sunshine of My Love" (which makes a GREAT ringtone by the way), so let's all just agree to suspend disbelief and agree to this: someone is calling me. And if you read the sentence above, I have a sneaking suspicion you might know who it is.).
Looking down at the phone, I see it's my Mom (yup, you guessed it). I'm on Amtrak, taking the train home to Baltimore from DC after having a couple of drinks after work. I try to weigh if the combination of two glasses of Chardonnay and being in a public place where screaming hysterically on the phone is woefully inappropriate provide sufficient insulation to deal with whatever my Mom has to say. The loving embrace of the wine makes the scales tipsy, and as I press the green button on my phone, I find myself feeling especially benevolent and patient.
"Hi Mom. How are you? How was France?"
"Hi Honey, I'm good. France was wonderful. [Blah blah blah...France...blah blah]. By the way, I called your Cousin in the Virgin Islands - did you hear they were hit by a hurricane?"
"No, I didn't see it on the news here."
"Yes, they're all right, thankfully. We found out about it the day after we got back from France."
"OK, good - I'm glad they're ok."
"Oh, by the way, I know you don't talk to Cousin that much, but just don't mention that we were in France."
"Uhm, ok, but why??"
"Oh, I don't know. I just don't think they need to know."
"But Mom, that is so random. I don't understand. Why?"
"Not everyone needs to know everything, E&E." I feel like I'm in a science fiction movie and I need to solve the riddle my Mother is saying to exit the rabbit hole. While I'm scratching my head in total bewilderment and wondering if The Matrix might hold a key to this puzzle, she goes on to say, "I got the invitation to your Wedding Shower."
Relieved I can stop thinking about Neo and Alice in Wonderland and how terrible I am at problem solving in general, I responding with an exuberant, "Me too! I think they're really pretty!"
"They're very cute. [She pauses.] By the way you should call Auntie Hostess [i.e., the Aunt hosting my shower. Although upon reflection that makes her sound like an Aunt who has a penchant for Ho-Ho's and Twinkies. Now that would be a Shower I could buy in to.]."
"Uhm...why should I call her?"
"Well, it appears that whichever of your friends sent out the invitation didn't have the right address for her and then didn't ask the right address and didn't send her one. I mean I guess they could have asked for the right address and sent one...but well, they just didn't."
[Incredulous. And back in the rabbit hole.] "Wait, I'm confused - how did that happen? I don't understand."
"Well, I don't know dear. But...[SIGH]...I told her that I would bring along my invitation to the Shower in Long Island and just show it to her so she could take a look at it, but then of course she couldn't keep it since I want to keep my invitation so I would have to bring it back to New Jersey."
[Looking around rabbit hole for mint julep to keep me company while I wander through labyrinth.] "So what are you trying to say?"
"Nothing, dear. You asked me why you should call your Aunt and I was just giving you all of the information."
"So are you trying to say you want her to get an invitation sent? - because you could have just asked me to ask my friends to send her an invitation."
[Mother apparently getting frustrated as well.] "I don't know why everything has to be so difficult. I'm just trying to help: you asked me how things were, so I was just telling you the story of what was going on."
"Yes, except that you really just wanted to tell me that my friends did the wrong thing. You could have just said - 'Auntie didn't get an invite. Send her one.' But instead you had to tell me that everything wasn't perfect. Why do you have to give me all of the unnecessary details which are sure to make me feel guilty? [Pausing] So is her address right or wrong on all of the shower invites?"
"I don't know."
"Well, the address she gave is on the invites to the Shower, the directions to the Shower and her wedding invitation - so if you want her to get a wedding invitation, then maybe you should call her and check all this."
"Well I think you should call her."
"She's your friend." [Auntie Hostess is actually a "fake" Aunt who is Mom's friend from college.]
"Well you need to call her and check that the address is right - it's your Shower."
"I don't understand! How did she tell you that she didn't get an invite because her address is wrong, but then she didn't give you her correct address or confirm that the address on the shower invitation is correct? I don't even know what I'm asking her!"
"I don't know, dear."
"I gotta run Mom. I'll talk to Auntie Hostess and get her an invite. We're coming into my station and I need to grab a cab...I'll be in touch tomorrow."
I shut the phone and stare at it, confused as to what happened and with a hankering for a mint-based cocktail. And then I feel guilty for essentially hanging up on my Mom. This is the essence of every conversation we have had for the last nine months. Is this just generational? To me, the point of the conversation was that Auntie didn't get an invite and I should make sure she gets one. But that was tucked away deep within the enigma that is my Mother's double talk. *Sigh* I'm pretty sure if you print out this conversation and hold it up to a mirror it will show you where the holy grail is buried.