This weekend my father, my youngest brother and I flew to Boston to help my other brother move back home before he ships off to med school. All his belongings are now stuffed into my parents' basement. And I mean all of them -- the kid wouldn't even throw out half a jar of mustard. (I guess he's man after my Grandpa's heart.)
As usual, our time together yielded some mildly amusing moments:
1. on the way to the airport: My mother came along for the ride and became nearly hysterical when I turned on the stereo and started up the audiobook she had left in the CD player. "Don't listen to that!" she shouted. "Turn it off! TURN IT OFF!"
We asked her why. Never good at thinking on her feet, Mom lied the way a child does, betraying her own secret before anyone had a chance to get really suspicious.
"I just...It's just something I'm listening to. And I don't want the kids to hear it."
Yeah, like we were going to let that go. I found the CD jacket on the floor by my feet. Once I'd stopped laughing I read the title out loud:
"Words of Silk by Sandra Brown.
"Laney McLeod's life changes the minute she finds herself stuck in a high-rise elevator in Manhattan. Fighting her rising panic, she relies on a handsome stranger to help overcome her claustrophobia. The man, Deke Sargent, is just as attracted to this beautiful and vulnerable woman as she is to him..."
It gets worse from there. Suffice it to say, there's passion, there's pain, there's an illegitimate baby... Also recommended were other Sandra Brown titles including "White Hot," "Breath of Scandal," and "Slow Heat in Heaven."
There was laughter and pointing. My mother, a woman of infinite pride and not a lick of shame, actually turned red and went eight whole seconds without speaking. She says the book is entertaining. I think it's a cry for help, and the fact that she has enough time on her hands to drive around all day listening to bodice rippers is both the source and a symptom of her problem.
2. on the plane: I opened my backpack to look for a pen. Baby brother, only 17 and unschooled in the ways of women, mistook my baggie of tampons for Polly-O String Cheese and asked me to share the wealth.
3. back at my parents' house Sunday night: Mom was foolishly trying to drain liquid from a meatloaf by tipping it over the sink. She dropped it and the whole thing crumbled and fell out of the dish. The fact that she'd be serving dropped meatloaf didn't faze her, she was only worried that my father would walk in and catch her repaving his dinner. He loves to say "I told you so," whether he witnessed the stupid act or only heard about it later.
Mom sent my brother to run interference. I rinsed out the sink while she mushed the meat back together and laid a fresh layer of ketchup on top.
"Shit," she muttered. "God dammit. You're probably going to use this to blackmail me like you always do."
This is not true. I have never blackmailed my mother, and believe me, I've busted her doing so many dumb things, I could be living in a much larger condo. It's not even that I catch her in the act, she just can't keep a secret. She once got two tickets in one traffic stop: One for speeding, and another for not wearing her seatbelt. That's the sort of thing I would have kept to myself. If Sergeant SafetyDad ever found out he would never, ever, ever let it go. But my mother told me about it. Then she got so freaked out after spilling the beans she took me shopping to shut me up.
If only she could bribe herself, her secrets might stand a chance.