My Mother: “Hello?”
Me: “Hey Mom, it’s me. I think I caught Dad’s cold.”
My Mother: “Oh no. He’s still sick!”
Me: “Yeah, it’s like that. I’m considering going into phone sex until this stupid shit is gone. I could make a killing if I could find the dudes with a fetish for chicks who cough and sound like Thelma from The Simpsons.”
My Mother (dryly): “Sounds like a great idea.”
Me: “Hey, work with what you got, right?”
My Mother (laughs): “Did you take some Tylenol?”
Me: “No, I don’t have any. I’ve been alternating between the heat and air, trying to get comfortable. Waging war on this fucking virus.”
My Mother: “Well, I have some Tylenol.”
Me: “I can swing by a little later and pick it up.”
My Mother: “Oh, I can drop it off. You live four seconds away.”
Me: “Wow. Cool. Okay. You sure?”
My Mother: “Can you meet me in the parking lot? My knee is killing me.”
Me: “Sure, no problem.”
My Mother: “See you soon.”
Me: “Sweet, thanks, Ma.”
(thirty minutes later)
Me (thinks): “Wow, she’s driving that fancy new car awfully slowly through the parking lot. I hope she at least put the Tylenol in a brown bag or something so it doesn’t look… suspicious. The last thing I need is my neighbors to think I’m a drug dealer. Wait, maybe I should play the part – I got some aviator sunglasses somewhere. I bet I could get one of those nose/mustache/fake glasses things so I look like I’m trying to be “in disguise.” Or I could go knocking on the doors of my neighbors, holding my baggie of Tylenol, so it makes me look all suspicious. That’d be kinda funny until the police came. I’d probably get arrested for the indecent wearing of sequins or something. I can never keep up with the laws about Being Gaudy In Public. And GOOD LORD OF BUTTER, Ma, can you LOOK any more suspicious driving through my parking lot? Probably not. At least, I don’t know how. Maybe I should get HER some of those novelty glasses or something so it REALLY looks like we’re being illicit. ARGGG! MA, DON’T RUN ME OVER.”
Me (walking up to the driver’s side window): “Thanks Ma, for bringing these by. I’m in some sorry shape.”
My Mom: “Well, I hope you feel better. (rustles around in her bag for a couple of seconds while I stand there, looking suspicious.) Here you go!”
Me: “HOLY FUCK, MA. We look like DRUG DEALERS.”
My Mom (laughs): “Go knock on some doors and see if you can sell the pills.”
Me: “MOM! I need to LIVE HERE. I can’t try to sell my neighbors TYLENOL.”
My Mom (giggles): “Yeah, I guess you should try and sell ‘em the GOOD stuff.”
Me: “What, like Ibuprofen?”
My Mom: “NOW you’re talking.”
Me (laughs): “All right, Mom, thanks again. You and Dad will have to come over and see the new space soon.”
My Mom: “Sounds good!”
Me: “Bye – thanks again!”
My Mom: “Be sure to get top dollar for those pills – they’re EXTRA STRENGTH.”
(she drives off)
Me (looking down at the bag): “Holy fucksticks. I’d better get inside before someone sees me.”
And THAT is how my mother became my Tylenol Dealer.
Most days, before I go pick up Alex at kindergarten, I swing by my former house to pick up my mail while I grab the various and sundries I’ve inadvertently left behind. I guess that’s the problem with moving while other people stay behind – you have the ability to leave your crap behind to be picked up at a later date, which makes you extraordinarily lazy, especially when one of the boxes contains nothing but bacon spam. I try to get this sort of thing done sans kids because it’s just easier that way, hence my 10:30 trips back to the House Formerly Known as Mine.
Tuesday morning found me there, bright and bleary, seeing if a) the mail had come and 2) trying to knock the two remaining neurons in my brain into functionality so that I could figure out what, precisely, I’d gone there for.
After I pulled into the driveway, leaving the car to idle, I’d noted that the mail was not yet delivered, which had been my main reason for the visit. I weighed my options: I could go skulking around the garage, where Dave had thoughtfully piled anything I’d left behind or I could try and make those misfiring neurons work their asses off to recall what, in particular, I’d wanted so badly from the house.
Standing in the driveway like some sort of mouth breather, staring into space, making my neurons work hard for their money, it dawned on me: MARK ZUCKERBERG. I needed MARK ZUCKERBERG.
While I’d bought him to be a hulking force in my backyard, poised to take over lesser companies and get sued every other day, I no longer had the yard. And, to be frank, Dave wouldn’t miss him – gaudy shit is more my speed than his.
I’d bought Mark Zuckerberg on one of my Friday night excursions to my boyfriend, Target, grocery shopping with my daughter, and upon bringing Mark Zuckerberg home, Dave had bluffed, telling me that he didn’t absolutely hate the peacock, which meant that he probably would’ve burned it, given half the chance and double the energy.
It’s a good damn thing he’s not a poker player, because damns, his bluffing skills need some work.
I’d been anxious to bring Mark Zuckerberg home with me and kept forgetting to grab him from the backyard every time I swung by because, well, with a mountain of my crap in the garage, I sorta hated the idea of neglecting that in favor of a lawn ornament. Hence the skulking.
I’m not sure my neighbors know that I’m gone, although I imagine they suspect it, what with the U-Haul and removal of loads of boxes and furniture. I didn’t have the heart to tell them before I left because I knew I’d fall into a sloppy sobbing mess – I loved living in Pleasantville – and that would be awkward for all involved parties. So I put on my best poker face when I moved, bluffing my way to my new place, hoping the neighbors would simply think I’d gone on a long trip or something.
Which is why, on Tuesday, I felt like a fugitive, standing in my driveway, ready to sneak into my own backyard to take Mark Zuckerberg. I simply couldn’t imagine what they’d think was going on, and while my neighbors weren’t particularly nosy, sneaking into someone’s backyard for a statue could’ve caused some particularly ugly conversations.
I considered making a dash for Mark Zuckerberg, only to remind myself that I am still on the mortgage, which means the house is technically still half mine, which made me stupidly sad all over again. Instead of skulking around in broad daylight (I prefer to skulk at night, thankyouverymuch), I walked into the backyard, opened the gate – the one that never actually latches – and meandered over to the pine tree to take my peacock and bring him home with me.
Carefully, I avoided looking at my roses, which I’d spent so long maintaining (if I couldn’t see them, they didn’t exist, right?), and marched back to the front, Mark Zuckerberg in my arms, half-expecting one of my neighbors to be standing in front of the car, all, “Hand over the tacky peacock and no one gets hurt,” but save for some chalk drawings on the driveway, no one was there.
I put Mark Zuckerberg into the front seat with the wind-chimes I’d bought myself for Mother’s Day and slammed the door. I got back into the car, sobbed for a couple of seconds like an asshole, then dried my eyes before backing the car out of the Driveway Formerly Known As My Own, and heading toward the school to pick up my son.
He bounded toward me, arms wide open, and I smiled my first genuine smile of the day as I swooped him into my arms, kissing his face as he told me about his morning at school, as I thought about the games that people play.