Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Okies, part 5

My mother's defining characteristic in youth was her thinness, her white-blonde hair, and her ability to eat. My mother was a very attractive girl, and weighed no more than 90 pounds clear into her first pregnancy. She was always defined by her extreme thinness, which contrasted heavily with the amount of food she ate. She was a voracious eater and had absolutely nothing to show for it. Unless you asked Grandpa about that—he’d tell you that she had “tits out her turtleneck!” Nice, Grandpa.

Yet Mom had the ability to eat more than anybody, including all the linebackers of the Ponca football team.

On one of her first family dinners with Dad’s family, as they were just starting to date each other, Grandma Harris made spaghetti. To hear Uncle Dale tell it, she ate seven bowls of spaghetti that night. Uncle Dale always swore Mom would be his “ringer” for a pie eating contest. And she could have been too.

People enjoyed watching her eat like people enjoy watching a circus performer place razor sharp swords in his gullet. How could it be possible for a ninety pound cutie could to put away so much food?

Grandpa Guier had probably the most logical answer for this, "Her goddamn legs were hollow!"

Mom was an average student, not as much of a studier as Dad. She went to nursing school, and became an R.N. She’s told me very few stories about her life and her times in college, but the ones she’s told me have been priceless as a young college student.

The pranks were what I loved to hear about. She’d tell stories of her and her girlfriends stretching Saran Wrap across the rim of the toilet, just below the seat. Then they’d lurk outside the door and wait to hear the anguish and complaining of their victim. It was stuff like this that made me understand that my Mom was pretty darned fun.

It didn’t take much convincing. She was always, always, the most absolutely hip mother any kid could have. She always listened to the same radio stations that I did when I was in high school. She could quote from MTV just as much as I could. She would amaze my friends with her frank and funny mannerisms and language.

I’d walk in the door from school, and my mother would be running through the house shouting like a mad woman, “JEESUS CHRIST!! The dog’s had the drizzling shits all over the carpet!”

Or she’d get into a discussion, an actual discussion, with one of my friends about my farting. She’d conspiratorially whisper to him, “That’s okay, David, Scott’s Dad is a farter too.”

My friends ate her up like ice cream. She was the cool swinging Mom none of them had and every one of them wanted. And she was pretty good looking too.

Yessiree, my hip mother. But hip has its price. And I paid it.

For my sixteenth birthday, my grand-coming-out-of-my-shell event, Mom threw me a big backyard party. We must have invited 100 kids. It was huge. Every kid I knew and a lot I didn’t showed up at this party. It was amazing. Cindi Lauper, Prince and Madonna were blaring on the stereo; big incandescent spotlights were rigged in the trees; every kid had a lei around their neck.

And with all these kids present, my mother brings out this poster collage of my life.

“Scott Harris, this is your life!”

It was a nice gesture, except for the baby pictures. The last thing a sixteen year old boy wants his girlfriends to see is his bare and powdered baby bottom shining in the camera while he eats kibble from the dog bowl. (By the way, that kibble tasted good!) I was mortified. But it got worse.

At sixteen, I was heading off to college. I graduated young. It was the eighties, and AIDS was really big in the news, and there was a lot of panic and misunderstanding about the disease.

Sandi was a nurse and a mom. She wanted to protect her boy, going 1000 miles away to a far off college.

So she got me a 36 pack of Trojans. And she gave it to me in front of everybody. I was purple in the face with embarrassment! But my friends, they still loved her!

Days later, they would ask me, “Hey, dude, can your mom get me some condoms too?”

“Hey, Scott, you use up all those rubbers yet? Got any left?”

Yep, my Mom. A real nineties lady. Even in the eighties.

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