If you drop in here regularly for the daily unbagging of the cats, you know that my mother holds me in high esteem. Depending on the day, I might be worth up to eight dollars. Then there are the days my value plummets into negative figures. Not often. But it happens. I blame the conspiratorial universe, always out to thwart Val's best intentions.
Today blog buddy Tammy posed a question: "How did your mother manage to humiliate you?"
Contrary to well-informed readership's popular opinion, my mother did not humiliate me by prancing around Arby's like a defector from the Bolshoi Ballet, flaunting the hole in her pants like a rare jewel romanced from the Nile by Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner, with the help of bumbling Danny DeVito. No. Mom is Mom, and she's going to let her unfiltered flag fly as she sees fit. Her humiliation of a tender young Val occurred more privately. Subtly.
During my college years, Mom called me every Sunday morning. Unfailingly, every single week, no matter whether I lived on the 8th floor of a high-rise dorm, in a classy 2nd-floor apartment with a balcony across from a large cemetery, in a five-bedroom rental house a block from campus, in an apartment across town with a lesbian couple and a front-door peephole that was only a short metal tube that we blocked with masking tape, or in a four-bedroom bungalow with a mushroom growing through the bathroom carpet...Mom always asked near the beginning of that phone call, "Is somebody there?" She was not talking about my roommates.
Let the record show that Val was never promiscuous. No Winona Ryder in Girl, Interrupted was she. Not a slut. Not a loose young lady. Not an employee, nor proprietor, of a house of ill repute. So there was no need for that question, spoken in a conspiratorial manner, as if she was willing to keep my secret should I only divulge it.
Where Mom got the idea that I was involved in overnight entertaining, I do not know. I was not one to have a steady boyfriend. In high school, I hung out with my group. Two girls and three guys. We were like Tom Cruise's nerd gang in Risky Business. Well. With the exception of that couple who got it on in the upstairs bedroom. And that whole brothel business to get money to buy back the household furnishings from Guido the Killer Pimp.
Sure, I dated that older guy who wrote for the Post-Dispatch. I only did it while home for the summer as a favor to my hometown college buddy who was dating my roommate. Could I help it that Mom peeped through the living room sheers at that inopportune moment on the carport?
Oh, I had opportunities to date at sleep-away college. But I turned them all down. There was that lanky red-headed guy on my intramural basketball team, and the curly-topped dark-haired short dude on my intramural volleyball team, and the body-builder with the lazy eye who was part of my entourage that attended a national convention in Boston, and the Kansas pig-farmer with the hairiest legs I'd ever seen. Okay...that last one was a gal, not that there's anything wrong with that. But the point is that I was at college to LEARN, by cracky, not to get my MRS degree. I don't know what Mom was thinking, asking me if anyone was there every Sunday morning of my college career. Because other than the dozen-or-so rent-paying folks legally contracted to occupy the same abodes, none of whom were romantically attached to Val, NOBODY WAS EVER THERE! I found that line of questioning to be humiliating. Falsely accusatory.
Like Curtis Armstrong (better known as Booger in Revenge of the Nerds) told Tom Cruise just before setting him up for his whole Risky Business...
"Sometimes, you have to say WTF?"