(This took place in 2003, before we moved to Florida)
My mother lives in Florida.Last week she showed up at my door in New Jersey unannounced.I was expecting the carpet installer; but instead, there stood Mom. I love my mother.Sheís a lot of fun, and we have a very close relationship.However, sometimes, she forgets Iím not ten years old anymore, with uneven pigtails, a dirty face, and habitually picking my nose.She didnít quite register the fact Iím in my 40s, married and an adult now.(I still pick my nose, however.) ďMom! What are YOU doing here?Where are you staying?Ē(Whoops! Did I really just SAY that??) Mom, a little taken aback, says ďSurprise!I wanted to prove to myself I could drive from Florida to New Jersey all by myself!Ē ďOf course you could, Mom!But WHY?Ē(I cringe for a second)ďI mean, come on in!!Ē Mom started to push past me into the foyer, hitting me in the gut with her suitcase-sized purse.ďSince your Father died, I needed to do something like this to prove my independence.Arenít you glad to see me?Ē ďOf course I am!But I was expecting the carpet installer.Ē Mom:Carpet installer? Youíre getting carpeting?(Mom gives me a hello kiss on the cheek as she passes me and walks inside.) Me:Um, no.The Carpet installer is installing a POOL in the yard.Of COURSE The carpet installer is installing carpeting! Mom:A pool in the yard? Why do you want a pool in the yard put in by a Carpet installer? Me:Mom, Iím joking.Wow!What a surprise! Wait till Joey hears youíre here for a visit! Mom:I hope he is a little happier to see me than you are. Me:I am VERY happy to see you, Mom!You just caught me off guard, thatís all! Mom:Thatís why I said Ďsurpriseí.That was the whole idea of this trip; itís a surprise. Me:Well!You certainly surprised me!(I hugged her, and took her purse from her; nearly pulling my back out from its unexpected weight.)Do you want some coffee?Something to eat?(A plane ticket back to Florida?) Mom:I donít know how long Iíll be staying.Maybe a few weeks.Maybe a few days.Who knows?Itís not like I have babies at home waiting for me anymore or something.Iím going to enjoy myself and have fun up here! Me:Well!Itís great to see you!IímÖ surprised!Really! Mom:Good, Iím glad.And donít make coffee just for me. Me:Iíll put a pot on now.I was just going to make a pot anyway. Mom:Youíre still dieting? Youíre starting to look too thin.Are you eating right?Got any cake or pie to go with that coffee? Me:I donít keep cakes or cookies in the house, Mom.Iíd be too tempted to cheat and eat them. Mom:Nonsense! Thatís why itís called Ďdietingí. Temptation is a part of the fun. (Mom then opened my refrigerator and began taking a mental inventory.)Iíll get some things later when we go grocery shopping. Thereís nothing in your refridge!Donít you feed Joey? Me:Mom, Joey tries to eat his big meal of the day at work for lunch, so at night we just have a salad or something light.It helps me to avoid binge eating. Mom:Well I like my big meal of the day for dinner, and I know Joey would like it too.So now Joey can get a decent home-cooked meal when he gets home while Iím here!If you insist on staying on your ridiculous eating schedule, you can watch us eat a normal dinner and you can eat rabbit food. Temptation is part of the fun of dieting! Mom and I walked through the aisles of the Super Stop ĎN Shop a few hours later, after my new carpeting was installed.I was pushing the shopping cart with a break-dancing front wheel, which spun around like it had a mind of its own.Occasionally the wheel would decide to stop short, making the cart lock up and refuse to move again unless you pulled it backwards about two feet then pushed it roughly forward again.You know the one. Mom was chatting incessantly ahead of the cart; scanning the shelves for decadent little goodies for her and for my husband.(Iím sure diet sabotage was on the back of her mind!)I made it clear I was not going to eat anything that wasnít on my diet plan, and that was FINAL.However, my stomach was already growling in anticipation of all the forbidden goodies piling up inside of the shopping cart.Traitor. Mom:Iím going to make a cheesecake for Joey.I know how much he loves my cheesecake.I think Iíll make some lasagna too.I make the best lasagna, donít you think?It used to amaze your Dadís father that I made Italian food better than your Grandmother, who was born in Palermo! Me:uh huh.But I canít have any, Mom.I told you Iím not going to cheat on my diet. Mom:Oh, itís not fattening.And Iím not here every day. You can live a little. Celebrate!Iíll use the diet kind of mozzarella cheese then, even though it tastes like chalk. Okay? The spinning front wheel stopped spinning, the cart jerked to a standstill, but I continued to walk ahead.The bar of the shopping cart jammed into my diaphragm, pushing the air out of my body with a big Ďgruntí. Mom:What?What are you complaining about now?You think I donít know whatís healthy and whatís not?Iím your mother! Iíd never let you eat something that wasnít good for you!Now come along! Whereís the cookie aisle in this store?How does pizza sound for lunch? It was going to be a long visit.
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Well, Mom and I both survived the next few days, probably because Mom spent a lot of her time visiting her siblings and my sister Nancy, who lived two towns over. Joey brought most of the leftover lasagna with him to work, as well as a huge piece of the cheesecake.(Much to Momís chagrin, I didn't taste either.) Today, Mom was back at my house. She and I began the morning with a cup of coffee on the deck watching my neurotic cat Harry-Harry, playing in the yard. Harry would hide in the violets, and liked to pounce on unsuspecting falling leaves from the overhanging Oak tree branches.As he leaped up to grab one leaf, a second leaf also fluttered down and surprised him.Harry does NOT like surprises. The hair on his back stood up, he leaped straight up into the air, turned around and bounded up the stairs, across the deck whacking his head into the screen door to the kitchen.I got up and let him inside.He skidded across the floor, bounced his rear end against the cabinets and made it into our bedroom in record time.He would remain underneath our bed until dinnertime, to recover from The Attack of the Evil Oak Leaf. Mom:(smiling, while shaking her head) Why do you always seem to get dysfunctional pets? Your last cat, Andrew, was really weird. I remember him walking around the house calling you ďMaoĒ like you were his birth mother.He used to play dead like a dog and drink out of the toilet bowl. Me:Well at least I didn't have to walk him. Mom:Seriously! All of your pets were weird. Me:They get it from me, I guess.My cat Maria was overweight and ate compulsively. Mom:I remember her! She looked like a basketball with whiskers. Me:Good thing Joey and I weren't able to have children.They'd all be in therapy by now, and would weigh 200 pounds before they hit puberty. Mom:Well Harry is the weirdest cat yet.Remember the time he sat by the window and was watching the kids shoot off all those firecrackers that Fourth of July?And then Joey sneezed and Harry got scared and ran under the bed?He is nuts! Me:I try to forget.Do you want some more coffee? As I refilled both of our cups, I added a packet of Sweet-n-Low to mine, and stirred in some fat-free milk.As I leaned back in my chair, there was a sudden PLOP! PLOP! sound as a bird flew overhead.Kobe Bryant couldnít have made this shot so perfectly!The poop landed right inside of my coffee cup! I sat bolt upright, nearly kicking the table over! Me:Did you see that!??That freaking bird took a dump in my coffee cup! Mom:It did not! I didnít see a thing! Me:Iím telling you, Mom! I saw it!It landed right in my cup! Mom: I didnít see it! Me:(laughing) I swear it!Itís in my cup! Mom:Youíre imagining things.I didnít even see the bird. Me:Mom! WHY would I make something like that UP??Look!!(I took my spoon, and fished out most of the bird poop, and dumped it out onto the napkin.) Mom:Thatís just undissolved Sweet-n-Low. Me:No way!Sweet-n-Low dissolves instantly, and it doesnít have gray and white stripes in it with the consistency of snot! Mom:Ewwwwwwww!Thatís disgusting!(She began to laugh.)Youíd better play the lottery with that kind of luck! Me:TELL me about it.A little bird flies over this entire city and takes a dump and it lands directly inside of my coffee cup while I sat here on my deck!But I could NEVER pick the lottery numbers and win it.Iíd have a better chance at getting struck by lightning! Mom:I hope rain isnít in the forecast then! As Mom finished her coffee (sans turds) I dumped mine into the hedges and brought my cup inside of the house.I was laughing to myself about my crappy luck, (no pun intended) and I thought of that saying:ĎEat a toad first thing in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you all day long.íI suppose this is what that meansÖ any day that begins with a bird using your coffee cup as a porta-potty canít go any other way but UP.It should be a great day!
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Harry hiding in the violets
By ten oíclock, Mom and I were in my Toyota Highlander, heading for MICHAELS, my favorite crafts store. Joey and I are in the process of building a new home in Florida, and Iím documenting every step of the way in a scrapbook I started just for the occasion. As we walked into MICHAELS, a young mother and her child were on their way out, and we met in the vestibule at the front of the store. My Mom stopped and looked at the baby, who was chewing on its fist. Mom:How adorable! Whatís his name? Woman:HER name is Kara.Sheís just turned eleven months old yesterday. Mom:Oh! Sorry!Kara is a pretty name. Woman:Thank you. Me:Hello, Kara! Kara:WAAAAH!!!!!!!! Me:(looking at Karaís Mom) Kids LOVE me. Mom:What did you do?Now sheís crying! Kara: WAAAAH!!!!!!!! (Karaís face now turning red) Me:I didnít do anything! I just said hello to her!I have such a knack for communicating with children, donít I? Mom:I donít know what you did, but you sure pissed that baby off. Me:I didnít mean it!Here! Here!(I take Karaís hand and try to push it towards her now wide-open mouth again.)Suck on your fist, Kara!Here!Shut up already! Woman:Please donít do that, sheíll stop. Mom:My daughter is really sorry she made your baby cry.Sheís good at that.Kids donít like her at all. Me:Yeah, tomorrow Iím going to the hospital to get sterilized so I canít reproduce. Woman:(looking a little annoyed, and then continued on her way out of the store without another word.) Me:Bye, Kara! Kara:WAAAAH!!!!!!!! Mom and I walked past a stack of those carry-basket thingies and took one off the top to hold my purchases. I tried to ignore the nasty looks we were getting from other customers as well as from the irritated cashier for making the baby cry in the store. Me:All I did was say ĎHELLOí to the little brat!(I commented in the direction of the sneering cashier)Geez, that kid has some set of lungs! Mom:She was probably teething. Me:She was probably an asshole!I never heard a kid scream so much about nothing. Mom:ALL kids do that. You used to scream and cry and carry on whenever you didnít get your own way. Me:I still DO. We both had a little chuckle as we proceeded down the aisle that had the paper products and supplies for scrap booking.I flipped through booklets, looked at the variety of glues, and we chatted about the particular page I was working on.Mom offered some suggestions and I began to load my little basket with my purchases. As we headed for the line at the cash register, the one corner of the basket snagged on an arm of a spinning display rack that held various crafts catalogs.It teetered for a moment and then it fell over and landed across the top of a rack that had die-cut pads of paper in it.Before I could react, both racks dumped most of their contents onto the floor. Mom:This isnít your day, is it? Me:(rolling my eyes) Shit.I should go right home and hide under the covers in bed! A store clerk came over and between Mom, the clerk and me; we up righted both racks and began refilling the spaces with the booklets and pads that were scattered on the floor. Mom:My daughter has some luck, doesnít she? (Asking the clerk)This morning a sparrow took a shit in her coffee cup! Me:MOM!! The clerk looked up at me and laughed.She made a comment about it being good luck and I felt myself turning red. After our shopping adventure, we decided to have lunch at one of my favorite restaurants. After we were seated, I ordered a club soda and made a beeline for the salad bar.On my way back to our table, a young child escaped from its mother and ran directly into my thighs.My plate landed face down on the carpeting, and the child ran off to its mother crying like I beat him with a baseball bat. I helped the waitress clean up the mess from the floor and made myself a second plate of salad greens.I kept looking over my shoulder to make sure the Mother of the little boy didnít sneak up on me and kick my ass for making him cry.
Halfway through lunch, my cell phone rang. Me:Hello? Joey:Hi babe!Feel like taking a drive to Atlantic City tonight?Itís more fun that watching DVDs on TV with your mother. Me:Atlantic City? Hold on a second, Iíll ask her. Mom:(without hesitation) YES! Joey:(laughing) I guess she wants to go.Pick me up at the train and weíll head straight down after I get out of work. Me: Great! See you later!
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Kids LOVE me!
Once we arrived at CAESARS Hotel and Casino on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City, the three of us headed directly for the nearest Blackjack table.(Mom can only win at Blackjack when she drinks Black Russians, a very potent cocktail made with equal parts of vodka and Kahlua. Within five minutes, she had downed three of them and promptly started to win a small fortune in chips!) Me:(to Joey) The way MY luck has been going today, I should just take my money and run it through a paper shredder.It would be quicker, and the end result would be exactly the same. Joey:I already lost fifty bucks and weíve been here for less than thirty minutes! Mom:Iím kickiní ass!Hey waitress, bring me another two of these Black Russians! Momma is HOT tonight! Mo' Money! Mo' Money! Momma wants Mo' Money! Bring it ON!
Joey and I decided to take a walk on the Boardwalk, and told my Mom weíd see her later.After a leisurely stroll and a walk along the beach, we went back into CAESARS to find my Mother.She was still sitting at the same Blackjack table, but had a rather large audience surrounding her, cheering her on! Through the din, we heard my mother shout out, ďYEAH! Come to Momma!Double down, Honey!Come to Momma!YEAH! Winner! Momma's HOT! Now THATíS what Iím talkiní about! Mo' Money! Come to Momma!Ē I rolled my eyes and sighed as Joey peered over the heads of my Motherís fan club, and noticed a large pile of $100.00 chips stacked up in front of her like soldiers!He started to laugh, and yelled some encouragement to my Mother over the noise of the crowd.She turned at the sound of Joeyís voice. Mom:Hey, Joe! Iím winning!Iím going to clean the sons of bitches out of every last damned chip they got in this place!Iím not leaving until Julius Caesar himself comes and kicks me out of this chair!Whooo Hoooo! Me:(to Joey) Sheís too much, isnít she?A seat just opened up next to her.Iím going to see if her good luck rubs off on me! I moved my way through the crowd surrounding the Blackjack table, and sat in the empty chair next to my Mother. Mom:Oh no!Not the Jinx!Hey dealer!This is my daughter, the one I told you about that had a bird take a shit in her coffee this morning!Did I tell you kids hate her?Double down, Honey!Iím doubling down! Don't you jinx me now! Me:Mom, youíre smashed!Keep it down before they throw you out of here. Mom:Et tu, Brute?My friend Julius Caesar is right up there in those teeny tiny little cameras watching out for me. (she points up at the security camera lenses mounted into the ceilng above the table) If he sees you jinx me, heíll come down and kick your ass back outside into the sand! Me:(sighs and puts money onto the table to begin playing Blackjack again.)Wish me luck! Mom:Fat chance!(Laughs) My mother won yet another large hand, and the crowd cheered her on, acting more like groupies than patrons of a rather classy Gambling Establishment. Suddenly, the man sitting to my motherís right practically jumped out of his seat for no apparent reason.His sudden action made my Mother jump, which in turn, made ME jump. Mom:What happened?(She asked the man next to her.) Man:Iím sorry, Ladies.I had my cell phone on 'vibrateí and it scared me when it went off in my jacket pocket.I forgot I had it with me. Mom:Your cell phone vibrates?Terrific!Lend it to me!Iíll put it down my pants and you can keep calling me!(She burst into a loud guffaw, and her fan club as well as the man next to her laughed along like it was the funniest thing they had ever heard. The crowd loved her! I was mortified.) Me:(picking my chips off the table) Iím out of here!
Mom: Sore loser! Come on, Dealer! Momma needs a new Corvette! Go Momma! Go Momma! Go Momma! Joey was standing behind me, laughing along with the crowd at my obviously intoxicated Motherís antics. Me:Come on, Stepford Husband.Letís play something else where nobody knows us! Mom:Good riddance, Jinx!(turning to the man with the cell phone)Did I tell you my daughter had a bird take a shit in her coffee this morning?She also knocked over half the store displays in MICHAELS. She's so clumsy. She sucks. Hey! I won again! Go Momma! Go Momma! Mo' Money! Whooo Hooo! Joey:(laughing even louder as he takes my hand and literally pulls me away from the Blackjack Table.) Come on, Loser. Let's try Craps.
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Momma loves playing Blackjack, and it's obvious it loves her, too!!
Joey (in yellow) playing Craps
Joey and I lost a few hundred dollars.Mom won three times what we lost!She snored loudly in the back seat for the entire drive back to our house. I was pissed off she didn't have a hangover the next morning. A few days later, Mom announced to us at Breakfast that she was homesick, and planned to leave for Florida that same morning.Two of my three sisters lived down there, and she missed her grandchildren as well. Joey helped Mom load her luggage into the trunk of her car.
Mom hugged and kissed Joey and I 'good-bye' and thanked us for a great time.A few minutes later, she drove away. Within the next 18 months, the new house Joey and I are in the process of building in Florida will be completed.We can hardly wait! And as a bonus, Mom will live only 15 miles away, and she can drop by any time she wants for a visit.
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