I’m being an asshole tonight. It’s Friday after five and I’m hanging out with a bottle of Advil, a tall glass of water, and watching bad television on the couch with the living room windows open. I have recently crawled under the softest blanket in these United States and am considering closing my eyelids.
My phone vibrates against my ribcage and right before I send the call to voicemail, I look at the ID. Mom Cell.
“Hi,” I say.
“Hi!” she says back. “How are you?”
“I’m okay. How are you?”
“Great; I’m drunk.”
She is very cheery. I try not to be concerned.
“Where are you?”
“On University Avenue.”
University Avenue is one of the longest, busiest streets in my home town. As such, the general description of her geographic location does nothing to calm my rising anxiety.
“Are you by yourself?”
“Yeah. Well, I’m leaving now. Jim’s* retirement party just ended.”
“Oh,” I say, feeling much better having been reminded of said party, now knowing that my mother isn’t out binge drinking by herself on a random Friday night and standing on busy street corners.
“Yeah. I’m meeting your dad for something to eat. I’ll be much better after I eat something.”
I ask some prodding questions as to why my parents aren’t at their close friend and neighbor’s retirement party together. I am somewhat relieved to hear that work schedules prevented them from traveling in tandem.
“So,” she says, “M was there. And he asked about you.”
“Really? That’s nice.”
“Yeah. He asked if you were still dating ‘that one guy’. It was the second question out of his mouth.”
M is the first boy I ever had a crush on. When I went home in January, we ended up sitting in my parents driveway until four in the morning, switching the car ignition on and off to keep warm without draining the gas tank. It was the best conversation I’d had in, well, awhile. (Telling you there was no benchmark by which to measure that conversation is as sad as it is true.)
“So, what’d you say?”
“I told him you were as single as they come.”
I laugh at her, and then choke on it when she says, “Yeah, I kept telling him he should stop and see you on his way out to California, that you have your own place now and everything.”
Ah, the fine line. The fine line between a helpful, drunken nudge and overeager prostitution.
“Ah, jeez, Mom. You probably freaked him out.”
She’s silent for a second and then says, “Megan…Megan, I’m at Carlos O’Kelly’s; I have to let you go.”
I rub my eyes and listen to her tell me, very matter-of-factly, that she loves me. I love her back.
I close the phone and my mind takes me to all the awful places the conversation between M and my never-drunk-in-public parent could have gone. Because for God’s sake, nobody likes a hard sell. Which is why I never use the free 30-day passes to 24-Hour Fitness.
But that’s a whole ‘nother interview.
*Name changed to protect the retired
Jam of the Day: June Carter Cash, Wildwood Flower