Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Our flight is booked. In a couple of months, I’ll finally meet my girlfriend’s mom.

It wasn’t me who avoided this for the past year. I’ve met Adelphia’s sister and her friends, and I think we all hit it off. So I wasn’t worried about her mother. Moms love me. They just don’t always get along with their daughters.

Trust me, I know. While my mother and sister usually have a good relationship, all it takes is Mom to suggest that Julie wear her hair differently, or a snippet of sis's sarcasm... and it's World War III. And all I can do is duck for cover.

Today, the battle still wages on. Last weekend, when my mom babbled some non-sequitur story, my sister got frustrated trying to decipher all the contradictions, which only got my mom angry for having to justify herself. In the middle of the room, I found my sister’s old Talking Heads CD and held it up, as a message to her that Mom couldn’t see: Stop Making Sense.

So when Adelphia explained her hesitation at this visitation, saying her mom needs medication, I assured her that mine is crazy, too. "Yeah, but your mother had a stroke," she said. "Mine has no excuse."

Maybe, but it's always been this way between the women in my family. Years ago, long before Mom suffered dain bramage and we had moved her to LA, she came out from NY for a visit. My father was busy working, so it was just Mom… checking out my sister’s place... admiring the furniture, the decorations, the greeting cards sitting on the desk – remnants of Julie’s recent birthday, opening the card to read the inside and smile…

“Mom!” My sister burst into the room. “Don’t read those!”

“Why not? I can if I want. You have them out here!”

“Not for you to read the inside!”

“I was just reading the caption. What, you think your mother isn’t clever enough to get the joke of the card?”

“You were reading the handwritten notes from my friends.”

“So what if I was?”

“That’s private. That’s damn rude of you, Mom!”

“Don’t talk to me that way! I’m your mother! You’re the one who’s rude!”

They immediately launched into a heated debate about proper etiquette regarding reading greeting cards, and they both turned to me for an opinion. I tried to stay out of it, but as the argument continued, I thought perhaps a third party could solve this.

“Okay… Julie, if you leave the cards out on your desk, standing up, partially open, especially when you know you have company, you can’t expect people not to want to see the caption on the inside, which will only let them see what else is written there. Mom, just because Julie’s cards are out, you should respect her privacy and not peek inside, especially if there are personal notes in there. I think you’re both making too big deal about this, so… who’s up for a drive through Beverly Hills?”

No good. They overruled my judgment and continued with the trial. As the emotions escalated, my mom grabbed the phone and called my father. Ranting and cursing, she said she wanted to change the flight, she wanted to come home early. Right now, in fact, because her daughter is a—

Then Mom stopped and handed the phone to me. “Your father wants to talk to you.”

Me? What did I do? I took the phone into the other room, away from everyone.

“Mikey, Mikey…” Dad said. “Is there any way we can get these two nutjobs to get along?”

“I dunno, Dad.” I shook my head. “Can the Hatfields and the McCoys get along? Can the Jews and the Arabs get along?”

And in a couple of months… can Adelphia and her mom get along?


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