For some reason, Jesse told Mike’s mother about all the female company, particularly Mystery Date. His mother his considerably upset with him and starts fussing. She calls him a whore and is about to embark on a regular tirade. Mike does his best to ignore her so he won’t say something mean.
“Are you listening to me?”
“I’ll listen when you’ve got something to say other than name calling. I was drunk, horny, been without for awhile. It’s a hell of a cocktail with testosterone, Ma. But you wouldn’t know about that, being without testicles. If it makes you feel any better, she came onto me.”
“Was it the blonde from the picture?”
“Ma. . . .”
My phone rang. Thank God. I picked up abruptly, almost yelling.
“Yeah?” There was a pause.
“Oh, sorry. What’s up, Sal?”
“Steve’s on the way back. I said I’d call. Can you talk a minute?”
“Sure.” I walked outside in the cold, leaving my mother to fume and sputter. “What’s up, Sally?”
“I had another feeling a little while ago. Something happened, didn’t it?”
I told her about the paintball attack and the word it spelled.
“You’ve done something to make her angry,” she said in a horrified tone. “Mike, be careful. This is not a stable woman. She’s furious with you.”
“It’s just paintballs on the house. . . .”
“Just be careful. A woman like this is dark, chaotic. You watch your back, okay?”
“Sure. Yeah. Thanks, Sally.”
“Your mom will calm down,” she assured me.
“How did you know she was upset?”
She giggled, and I could picture her tossing her hair out of her face. “Mike, Jesse told her about last weekend. She’s bound to be upset with you. Any mother would be. Especially now that you’re obviously interested in Sarena. You have to understand how a woman thinks.”
“Maybe she needs to understand how a man thinks for once. Which I was trying to explain.”
“I don’t think any woman can ever fully understand that. Men are so complicated.”
“No, see, there’s the error in that thinking. We’re not. Complex is not in the picture. Food, sex, violence. . . . Satisfy one, the others vie for priority—and sex will win just about every time. Add alcohol to that mix. . . .”
“I get it,” she laughed loudly at me. Her tone turned serious again. “Okay. Just be on the lookout, okay?”
“I will. Thanks, Sally.”
“Got to take care of you, Mikey. You and Sarena, you’re family now.”
I swallowed hard. That was the first time I’d ever been part of any family other than the dysfunctional one I’d left behind me.
“Thanks, Sally. That means a lot to me.”
“Tell Sarena I don’t look good in blue,” she said.
“Bridesmaid dresses. Pink is much more my color.” With a saucy laugh, she hung up.
Ma was puttering around in my kitchen when I went back in. She was furious, giving me the silent treatment. What she doesn’t realize is, that never really got to me. I liked the quiet. I was past caring what she thought of my behavior. Truth was, I wasn’t all that proud of myself, but I didn’t think it required name calling.
Silently, she brought me a beer and a coaster, taking away the empty one without a word. I touched her hand.
She didn’t say a word, but smiled at me, patting my arm. When she’d rinsed the bottle and put it in the recycling bin, she came back and sat across from me.
“I’m sorry I called you a whore,” she said quietly. “That wasn’t right.” I started to speak, but she held up her hand. “Misunderstandings start from not saying things. I know you always thought I played favorites with you and Gabe. But the truth is, I knew he’d never make anything of himself, always in your shadow, if I didn’t do something. I maybe helped too much, played him up more than I should. But you were always so strong, and he never was. He has a good job, a wife. . . .” She shrugged. Ma doesn’t like Livia anymore than I do. “A big home, and kids, and he’s the most miserable man on Earth. I see you, a small place, a not so great job, but you’re so happy. You don’t have kids, or a wife, but such joy. I wonder where I went wrong. Did I push too much?”
© Dellani Oakes 2014