Honest Conversation Is Overrated
Actual Human Interactions Witnessed Or Overheard
In Twentieth And Twenty-First Century America
In Twentieth And Twenty-First Century America
Ben is on the phone with his mother. Speaking all falling leaves and sunshine. He is planning on spending a weekend on a commune in upstate New York. He wants to get in touch with nature, and spend some quality time with Lisabelle. He does not tell her that he really wants to go because he found an acid connection, and he wants us to do acid together before it starts snowing. And then I hear him say something about Ani Difranco.
“Wait, your mom likes Ani Difranco?” I ask.
“Yes.” He says, then relays my question to his mom.
“Your mom, who likes to wear flannel, and fixes all the appliances in your house when they break, also likes to listen to Ani Difranco? Your mom is such a dyke.”
“My Mom is Not a lesbian.” He says. Then he listens to the phone. “She says she’s a non-practicing bisexual. And she says that if she ever meets you, she’s going to kick your ass.”
“She is sooooo a dyke.”
Ben scowls, and takes the phone out of the room.
I’ve been living with him for two weeks. Nothing’s happened. Everything has happened. I quit my job at the coffeehouse and went back to my old job, waiting tables at Kookaburra Canyon. I got an e-mail from my mother’s boyfriend telling me that she has cancer, and she’s coming to visit me in Boston this weekend to discuss her will and other things I really don’t want to, but know I need to, deal with.
“I’ll go with you.” Ben says. “You never talk about your mom, I’d love to meet her.”
Thus far in my life, my mother has only met three people I’ve dated: Jennifer (who hates my mother because...well, my mom was a total bitch to her at every opportunity), Ryan (though it was before we were dating...he liked her, but he liked everyone), and Elvis (who she instinctively knew was evil, but she actually tried to be supportive as possible until the day I finally got rid of him, which she claims was one of the happier days in her life). Even my really close friends have never liked my mother. She was emotionally abusive to Liam and Riley. She made Saint quiver whenever she came into our house. Earlier this year, when angry at her for something stupid, I toyed with the idea of inviting my previous crush, Dmitri, to spend some time with me at my mother’s house. We were going to claim he was a fifteen year old street kid addicted to crank that I was “taking care of”. It seemed funny at the time.
I don’t know about her meeting Ben. I just don’t think it would be fun for either of them. It would give Ben some new material for his “Letters to My Exes’ Mothers” song, though, since we’re not even dating, I’m still a future ex at this point. I bet he’d do a fantastic impression of her, but she’d also eat him alive. Oh he wouldn’t cry about it, I just imagine, as we left the restaurant, him saying “Jesus, well that explains a lot about you.” Also, I'm not sure how bringing my not boyfriend to a discussion of my inheritance and my responsibilities, in the context of her estate, would go over.
“Don’t worry mom. He hasn’t done speed in…” (whispers in Ben’s ear, Ben whispers back) “ok, technically it hasn’t been that long, but he hasn’t really been a drug addict in months. Plus, he has a job. I know. I know he looks like he’s fourteen. He’s not. He’s twenty two.” (and here Ben would add, “Twenty two, and one month.”) “Yes. Twenty two and one month. No, I haven’t IDed him. Mom, he really is twenty-two. And one month. No, I haven’t been spending loads of money on him. In fact, he’s been reallysupportive of me. No, no we’re not...I'm glad you like my haircut...No, I...Ok, well...it’s not...I should really go to work.”
It’s just too much for me to contemplate. But as fate or luck or whatever higher power you belive in, would have it, my mom and her boyfriend come for their visit while Ben is at the commune buying acid.
The lunch isn’t nearly as awkward as I expect. Turns out, my mother doesn’t havecancer. The cancer was a ploy to get me to meet with them to discuss the will. It sounds awful, but it’s not terribly surprising. When I was living in Arifuckenzona, I went a little over a month without calling or e-mailing them, so my mother called and left a voicemail on my phone, letting me know they were taking a trip down to Florida, and that they’d left their wills on the kitchen counter, so that if their plane crashed.... It’s a cruel game. Avoidance and guilt hop-scotch.
After the meal, they drive me back to Ben’s apartment, where an obese man in a too tight t-shirt is knocking on his door. “Do you live here?” he asks.
And because it’s Ben’s apartment, and his landlord doesn’t know I’ve been staying here, I say “No. I’m just catsitting.”
“Too bad.” He says. “I gotta cut your power.”
Out go the lights, the computer, the refrigerator, the fan. Everything’s off. I feel like it’s my shitty luck infecting Ben’s life.
I take a bus over to Celeste’s apartment, and tell her the story. “I hope it’s not ametaphor, like Ben’s way of saying Here are the keys to my life, you are alwayswelcome, but you have no power. And then I read the little card the NStar guy gave me, and it says they turned the gas off, too, so I thought, hey, if I’m going with the metaphor, it means that he also thinks I’m not gassy.”
“Oh, dude,” Celeste days, taking my hand, “that’s not what it means at all. It means he thinks you're not hot.”