With every year that passes, it seems I owe my mother yet another apology for doing or saying something that I, in the superior wisdom of my youth,—i.e., naiveté—once vowed I would never, ever do or say. So, yeah, I’ve been eating my words for a good 25 years now. And to add insult to injury, recent photos suggest they have been high fat, high sugar words at that.
Back in the day, I swore
1) I would never wear any outfit past its trendiness expiration date . . . until I got my first car and found out how much snow tires cost.
2) I would never leave the house looking like that . . . until I stayed up all night with a feverish baby and went to work wearing one brown shoe and one black one..
3) I would never use candy to bribe a child into compliance . . . until I was stuck in a mile-long check-out line with a melting down toddler.
4) I would never lose my patience and screech ridiculous, unenforceable threats, such as grounding a child to her grave and beyond . . . until I had a teenager.
Well, you get the idea. Lots of high calorie words building up on my hips over the years. But after the stunt I pulled this morning, I’m going to be eating words roughly the caloric equivalent of a Boston cream pie. Until today, my mother’s famous “drive-by incident of 1971” remained the high water mark for menopausal memory lapses in our family. That day, my 54-year-old mother was supposed to drive my friend and me to a basketball game at the junior high. My mom went out to the garage to pull the car around while my friend and I stood at the end of the sidewalk, waiting for her. Once in the car, my mother headed our way, but instead of stopping, she blithely drove right past us and disappeared into the night. My friend began to panic, but I calmly assured her that this sort of thing had happened before and that my mom would be back . . . sooner or later. I made no promises about making the opening tip off.
As my mom told it, once she hit the middle of town, she put her finger to her cheek and wondered aloud where she was going and why. With a little mental backtracking, she eventually remembered her passengers and returned for us. Oh, how we all howled about that for years, teasing her mercilessly every time she got behind the wheel and asking with exaggerated concern whether she’d forgotten anything—or anyone.
And then this morning happened to me. I got in my car to run some routines errands, stopping first at the drive-thru dry cleaners that I’ve been going to for ten years. I pulled up and Mr. Lee, the genial owner, came out to greet me as he does each time. We chatted a bit about holiday madness as he opened the back door to retrieve my load. Suddenly, he fell silent. Then, genuinely confused, he asked, “What do you want me to do with this?”
“Oh, just the usual light starch,” I replied, a bit confused myself.
“I’m not sure that’s a good idea,” he said, laughing.
I turned around to see what the problem was. There on my back seat, just as pleased as punch, sat my dog Harper—and not one stitch of laundry. The light bulb went on and I remembered that I was actually on my way to the veterinarian this morning when my brain apparently went on auto-pilot and I ended up at the dry cleaners instead. (In my defense, they do advertise themselves as “fur specialists.”) Mr. Lee and I had a good laugh and then I drove off in the direction of the vet’s office, just shaking my head.
Thus, the drive-thru incident of 2015 has now entered the annals of Menopausal Moments. My mom has been gone nearly two years, yet I’m still learning from—and apologizing to—her regularly. Looking down on me this morning, I’m sure she had a good laugh. Surely, even in heaven, vindication must still be sweet. As for me, I went home, sat down and cut myself a big slice of humble pie. I don’t suppose that’s ever anyone’s favorite dish, but I must say, the Boston cream isn’t too bad. Next time you have to eat your words, you might want to give it a try.
Sorry again, Mom, and you were right about almost everything.