In my opinion, my mother's job (that is, raising her children, of which I am one) is basically finished. I am taller than she is, I weigh more than she does--no one ever comes up to me any more in the grocery store to ask me where my mommy is.
To my mother, however, I am still a work in progress, requiring frequent course corrections lest I stray off the right path and turn out differently than she intends.
For example, here is a transcript of a telephone conversation with my mother. Nothing has been edited out but the sound of my teeth gnashing.
Mother: Oh....you're home.
Me: Yes. I am home. You don't sound very pleased.
Mother: I didn't think you'd be home.
Me: You called here because you didn't think I would answer?
Mother: So you haven't found a job yet.
Me: Mom, we've been through this. I'm not looking for a job.
Mother: You've given up. (Sigh)
Me: No! Mom, I told you. I work out of my home now. I am a freelance writer.
Mother: A free writer.
Me: Free LANCE.
Mother: Whatever. Why do they call it that?
Me: (Since I don't know, I am silent.)
Mother: (Another sigh) I saw Susan Humphries today.
Now, to you uninitiated, this sounds like a radical change of subject. But I know whom I'm dealing with, here: The conversation to this point has merely been setting the stage for this topic. Susan Humphries is a girl I dated for a while in high school before she decided to try someone handsome.
Me: (Warily) Susan Humphries?
Mother: She was always such a nice girl.
Mother: I always thought you'd wind up marrying her. Now it's too late. She's married.
Me: And I'm married as well. That's relevant, don't you think?
Mother: Things would have been so different if you had married her! Her husband's a doctor, you know.
Me: Mom, are you saying that if I had married Susan I'D be a doctor?
Mother: A gynecologist.
Me: Mom, I am coming dangerously close to screaming unintelligibly.
Mother: I suppose in YOUR opinion a gynecologist is nothing to sneeze at.
Mother: Well, I just wanted to call to pass on that message from Susan.
Me: What message?
Mother: I told you, that she is married to a gynecologist.
Me: So you ran into Susan and she said, "Be sure to tell Bruce I am married to a gynecologist?"
Mother: I can see you're not going to be civil. Have you been drinking again?
Me: What? Of course not! And what do you mean, "again"?
Mother: Bruce, I know you're depressed over your job situation, but please, don't turn to the bottle. Seek help. That's all I have to say.
Me: I am not depressed! I HAVE a job!
Mother: You're in the first stage, denial. That's good. Next comes anger, I think.
Me: I am NOT in denial!
Mother: See? Anger. That's all I have to say.
Me: I...okay, okay. I didn't want to tell you this, but I do have a job. I've been appointed governor of Nevada.
Mother: Your SISTER could have been governor. Her teachers were always so impressed with her.
Me: Mom, I have to go. I just clenched my jaw so hard my teeth broke.
After a discussion like this one I find it relaxing to writhe on the floor and tear at my clothing. My blood pressure has been known to affect barometers as far away as St. Petersburg, Florida, and neighbors have called the police to report they can hear an animal somewhere "in terrible pain." I truly believe that if the FBI were tapping my phone as part of a criminal investigation, they too would be so maddened they would open fire on my house the moment they heard my mother's voice.
Yet I suppose if I WERE appointed governor of Nevada, the first person I would call would be, of course, my mother. That's just the way things are.
I'd let HER call Susan Humphries.
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Submitted By: W. Bruce Cameron
Jun 26, 2000 12:36