March 7, 2006

Someday, my daughter will write blogs about me, too.

If I don't call my mom at any other point in the week, I call her on Tuesday nights. She lives in Fargo, I live in Reno, so the phone is our only method of communication. I've tried to introduce her to computers, but her friend Heinz convinced her that the Internet is a steaming cesspool of scam artists out to steal the identities and money of old people.

Anyway. Heinz is a topic all his own.

The dialogue that follows is translated from Polish, so I apologize that the wording is a little imprecise.

"I gained 0.4 pounds this week." [I have Weight Watchers meetings every Tuesday, so this is how our conversation always leads off.]

"What are you eating too much of?"

"No, Mom, that's not it."

"It's either pizza or chocolate." [damn, she's good]

"This week it's chocolate. My new boss has a candy bowl in her office."

"So what's bothering you at work?"

"Nothing... Well, OK, Sharon's moving to California." [how did she know?]

"That's a shame. She was your number one ally. She always watched out for you. It's very hard to find people like that in your life."

"I know, Mom."

"I would be eating chocolate too." [Note to self: don't mention the pizza box on the passenger seat of the car]

How is it that my mother imposes so much of her own world view upon me that I get confused about which one of us is stressed?

"When is Kathy going to visit you?"

"The last week of March."

"Are you nervous?"

"No, why should I be nervous?"

"Because she is your mother-in-law. You have to make sure the house is spotless."

"Oh, I don't think she'll care, Mom. I don't think their house is spotless all the time."

"You don't understand this, Monica, because you're not a mother. You married her son. You have a responsibility to take care of him and his home. If Kathy comes and sees your house is messy and there is no food in the refrigerator, she will think that you are not taking good care of Sam."

"Mom, it's not the '50s. I work as many hours as Sam, and we share the responsibility for our house. Plus, I've been with him for 8 years, I think Kathy's already formed an opinion of me."

[Note to self: Call Merry Maids tomorrow]

How is it that my mother always knows exactly which questions I don't want to answer, and asks them repeatedly?

"Aren't you supposed to be in a wedding this summer? Have you bought your dress yet?"

"Well, no, there's still a lot of stuff to figure out..."

"Weddings can be expensive. You'll have to buy the couple a nice gift too. What kind of balance are you carrying on your credit cards?"

"Oh, I pay them off every month." [blatant lie]

"You destroy all the bills in the shredder before you put them in the garbage, right?"

"Of course." [unless the shredder jams, or the garbage can underneath it gets full and I don't feel like emptying it, or I'm lazy]

"Speaking of identity theft, have you heard of all these Internet people? They're kidnapping young women like you."

"You saw this on Dateline, didn't you?" [it might be 20/20, but I'll play the odds]

"Yes, did you see it too?"

"Just a lucky guess."

"Whatever you do, don't tell anyone your name or put your picture on the Internet. They showed some of the women who got kidnapped, and they weren't all beautiful."

[Damn, there goes my plan of using my homely appearance to avoid identity theft or kidnapping]

How is it that at the moment I'm most frustrated with her, most exasperated and ready to hang up the phone - she disarms me completely?

"Did you hear that Christopher Reeve's widow died today?"

"No, I hadn't heard."

"She had the same kind of cancer as your dad. She didn't smoke either."

"That's sad." [wish I could tell my mom I'd quit smoking, but remember that I never officially admitted that I was a smoker in the first place]

"Peter Jennings had the same cancer. It's a terrible illness."

"I miss Dad."

"I miss him too. He was such a remarkable man. You are so much like him, Monica. Thank god you got his intelligence, and his character. You are so lucky to have his genetics, and not so much of mine." [and this is when I feel the ground pull out from under me]

"I am lucky to have you, Mom. I love you."

"I love you."

"I've got to go eat dinner."

"What are you having? Is it low in Points?"

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