My wife Mary, just before leaving for Red Lobster on Mother's Day. She's just warned me not to use "that name" for our reservation. Is it just me or does she look skeptical when I tell her I won't?
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
MOTHER'S DAY AND OTHER ODDITIES OF MODERN LIFE
Well, here it is—my annual Mother’s Day post. In reality, this won’t be an “annual” post unless I do one next year since this is the very first one. I plan to do one next year, though. If I remember...
And… I’m aware that it’s late, but I thought that appropriate, since I always forget it until about a week later, despite a loving wife (Mary) who considers it her mission in life to let me know about things like this. The only problem is, she always lets me know the day before. Like I’m expected to remember it that long!
To make up for not sending a card on time, I decided to send Mom more than just one of those syrupy Hallmark cards. This year, I sent her a cassette tape of the movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life” starring that irrepressible boyish Jimmy Stewart from my private collection. (This is the movie where he isn’t dressed up like a giant rabbit, in which he’s also irrepressible and boyish.)
Then, the second I got home from mailing it to her, I realized I’d made a grievous mistake. I hadn’t sent her the movie I thought I had. It dawned on me that I’d sent her an entirely different movie. To be exact, my copy of the classic film noir, College Girls Having Monkey Sex, Part XIV. If you haven’t seen it, it’s the one where the coed from Vassar has her boobs pointed in opposite directions and her co-star ends up with whiplash trying to treat them equally and stay on his mark. (“Mark” for you non-theater majors is the piece of tape the director places on the floor to show the actor where to stand.)
The reason I realized my faux pas, was that when I got home I thought I might want to watch a few minutes of it and couldn’t locate it and then remembered I’d labeled it… you guessed it… It’s a Wonderful Life… in the unlikely event Mary went through my collection looking for a something to watch.
I ran all the way back to the post office in hopes I could talk the mail guy into letting me have my package back, but it seems they have rules against that kind of thing. You can guess how that turned out, if you’ve ever had to deal with the United Nazi States of Mail Carriers. Guy treated me like I was the Unibomber. I called him “Cliff”and “Newman” but he didn’t get it.
I was in a sweat when I found it had already been shipped, but then I remembered Mom didn’t have a cassette player. Or a VCR. Or, even a TV. She’d sold her TV when The Ed Sullivan Show went off the air a few years ago.
The luck of the Irish!
Realizing I better do something more than send her a tape she couldn’t watch, I asked Mary if we could take her out to dinner.
“When?” she said. “On Father’s Day? That’s the next holiday.”
I laughed. (That’s it. I just laughed) Then, I said, “Of course not, silly. This weekend.”
“Only if you don’t use that name in the restaurant that you always do,” she said.
I agreed and called Mom to give her the good news. “We’d like to take you out to dinner for your big day,” I said. “Where would you like to go?”
“Would this be an early Mother’s Day for 2011 or the late one for 2010?”
I laughed. (That’s it. I just laughed. I’ve been trained by Mary.) Then I said, “Of course not, silly. The second one. 2010. The battery in my calendar died.”
Golden Corral was her first choice, but I talked her out of that. “They’re closed,” I lied. “There was a big pileup of people on walkers and the health department closed them until they widen the ramp. Thirty-six people suffered aluminum whiplash. There are herds of lawyers everywhere and you couldn't get in even if it was open.”
She sounded skeptical, but then said her second choice was Red Lobster. This, to a guy who’s lived in New Orleans half his life and has actually eaten real seafood was like the chef at Ruth’s Chris Steak House grabbing a square hamburger down at Wendy’s on his day off, but hey, it was my mom and it was her day. I looked forward to gazing at their menu with pictures of the nine-pound lobsters on the menu and them seeing the actual three-ounce one they served. To be fair, the actual meal is the same size as the picture when you put them up next to each other.
She decided to drive down from where she lived in South Bend to our home in Ft. Wayne, a true adventure for the other drivers on the highway since she’s 88 and drives older than her actual age. You’ve heard that saying? “(Blank) drives like old people fornicate? Slow and jerky?” That’s Mom. If you ever see those long lines on winding country roads where there are 117 cars trailing behind the John Deere tractor, it was Mom who taught that tractor driver how to navigate our rural byways. I suggested she might want to start out the night before to get to our place on time, but she didn’t think that was all that funny.
“You’re not too old to get a spanking, Mr. Smartmouth,” she said. Well, yes, I am, Mom. I have gray hair and arthritis and can remember when phones had dials. Besides, how are you going to catch me? I can crawl faster than you can walk. I didn’t say anything like that to her, of course. After all, she’s my mom and deserves respect. Besides, as long as I knew I could outrun her that was enough. I didn’t have to rub it in.
Before she hung up, she said, ”You’re not going to use that name you always do in restaurants, are you? Because if you do, I’m not coming.”
“No, Mom, I’m not. I’m grown up, now.” Jesus! What do she and Mary do? Get together and compare notes?
She gets here, only two and a half hours past her ETA, and we all climb in the car and head for the gastronomical delights only available at national chains.
We get to the Red Lobster and I’m anticipating something on my plate that looks like a medium jumbo shrimp that they’re going to try to pawn off as a Maine lobster and we all go in. This takes awhile as we’re proceeding at Mom’s pace which is about as fast as the last day of school.
“We should hurry, Mom,” I said. “They close in only six hours.”
Mary gives me a dirty look. So does Mom, who says, “You’re not too big to get a spanking.” I consider showing her my driver’s license to show her my age as she’s obviously forgotten, but I don’t. It’s Mother’s Day. Well, not really—that was last week, but we’re operating on the theme of Mother’s Day and I want to remain true to the spirit.
I hustle ahead of them and give our name to the hostess.
When I come back, Mom says, “How long?” and Mary says, “You didn’t give them that name, did you?”
“Twenty minutes,” I say to Mom, and to Mary I just give a pained look, as if to say, “How could you even think I’d do that?”
We pass the time listening to Mom complain about the present government and ask to see a menu so she can make her choice, which is always the same. The lobster/shrimp combo. I think she just wants to check to make sure they haven’t taken either off the menu. Although, if they ran out of one, they could just serve the one that was left and tell the diner it was the missing one. Who would know?
Then, she lays a bomb on me. “I love that movie, you sent me,” she said. “I’m going over to your sister Ann’s house to watch it when I get back home.”
And then, our table is announced over the loudspeaker.
“Donner, party of three.”
I get two dirty looks from the women I’m with.
“That’s us,” I say.
I love Mother’s Day!