August 24, 2006
Oh No You Don’t
“Yes, I know she’s 21 and she’s old enough to make decisions on her own but it’s not like I can just let her go out into the world just like that simply because there is a law out there that says I’m no longer responsible for her.” I responded to my girlfriend who told me for the 100th time that I had to let go.
I did let go. I sent her for the first time in her young life away to another country-across the continent to Italy for six weeks where Lord knows what could have happened to her. It was the hardest six weeks of my life. Well, okay, it wasn’t. To be honest, the months before she left were hard, and me having to always be sure that all was under control I began packing for her May trip in January. Hey, I didn’t want my baby to wake up in the middle of the night with a stomach ache and having to take some mystery medication from another country. So I packed a tool box filled with all sorts of medicines, first aid kits and other things that I was sure Italy didn’t have. That didn’t help. Beginning to pack weeks before she left became harder because it was just a reminder with each item I put into her over stuffed duffle bag that my baby girl was going to live on her own for the first time in a foreign country. Don’t you thik I could have sent her somewhere in the states instead of Europe? I tell you, when I do something, I go for the gold. Sometimes it’s okay but at times like this, I just want to kick myself in the ass. The day she left, I kissed her at the security entrance, went home, and passed out from all the crying. The next day I was redoing her room and the day after I went out to dinner with some friends. It wasn’t that hard after all but I missed her.
I knew she’d be leaving a young lady of 20 who lived with our rules and regulations and would return an almost 21 year old young lady who had lived with her own rules and regulations for six weeks. I could not expect her to come back and return to being the girl she used to be before she left. In retrospect, this trip was more for me than it was for her. It was her dream to study in Italy. My dream was to see her dream fulfilled. But the lessons she would learn would be different than the ones I experienced while she was away.
After sniffing her bed sheets and clothing for a week, I knew if I didn’t stop doing that, I’d be ready for the funny farm. I knew my prescription for Welbutrin would have to be upped and I’d need a few Valium cocktails to go with it. So I painted her room and changed it. I wanted it to be a reflection of the new and improved young woman who would return home but in essence it was a reflection of me saying goodbye.
It wasn’t so hard. I sort of liked the change. But then she came home. And the first week she stayed in bed and for awhile there I thought, “She didn’t change much after all.” But soon the phone was ringing and she was running out the door to meet with all the friends she left behind. I was okay with that until she went out on a date. With a guy. A cute guy. A guy who liked her. A guy I knew would be sitting across the table from her, talking to her, and undressing her with his hairy eyeballs. Oh yes, he might be cute but he’s still a guy. Okay he wasn’t really that cute. When I first saw him, what struck me was his big lips with just a pencil thin line of hair. What the hell was that all about? Was that to make his lips look bigger or was that the only hair he could grow? But I promised I would not be one of those mothers that found every thing wrong with any guy her daughter would bring home. So I turned the big lips and thin hairy upper lip line into “Oh wow, he’s so secure he created his own unique look.” I stopped at the ears. I couldn’t come up with anything except Dumbo.
I’ve taught her all about thr kind of guys that look good on the outside and suck on the inside and I would like to think she’s paid attention but when she brought this Dumbo lips home, I kept fighting the urge to ask, “What the hell are you thinking of daughter of mine?” Yes, she’s heard all I’ve had to say but you know for a fact that all of that goes out the window once he tells her what she wants to hear. Don’t you hate it when they do that? Sometimes she comes home after a date and tells me, “Oh ma, he’s so cute and as we were eating he said I looked cute when I nibbled my food.” I wanted to puke. I wanted to yell, “NO DARLING HE MEANS HE CAN’T WAIT TO NIBBLE ON YOU!” But I suppressed my comments because I know that always leads to the roll of the eyes and the “I-can’t-believe-you-just-said-that!” remark so I just smile, eyeballs bulging, lips smacked tight against each other, so tight I can almost taste the blood and then I have to loosen them up cause somehow the oxygen is not making it’s way through my flared nostrils and if I don’t breath, I could die and then who would be around to tell her that the next guy will have another cornier line than the one she just heard?
So what’s a mother to do? I mean think about it. If the date is a lunch date then you know she’s kind of safe because it’s lunch. Its broad daylight and well what could happen at lunchtime? So of course I educated her on the Lunch as a first date thing to do. If it doesn’t go well, all she’s lost is an hour or so as opposed to a long, boring evening. So off she goes to lunch with Dumbo (seriously, I can’t remember his name,) She calls when she gets to her destination to say she arrived safely but that to me is more about Dumbo knowing I’ve now got a time line, so if anything happens, I know where she was at what time and he’s going to pay. I go about doing whatever I’m doing and then it hits me; I saw the movie where the husband told the wife he was going out to lunch and he went to the motel with his secretary for some dessert instead. But no, wait, this young man is a college student. He can’t afford a hotel in Manhattan and if he could why is my daughter taking the bus to meet him? Shouldn’t he have paid for a cab? So he’s cheap. Oh no, I think to myself, she’s going out to lunch with a cheap guy. Did I give her enough money?
That’s when the first phone call is made…
“Hi honey, just me… just checking to see if you are having a good time. Did you bring enough money?” I ask with a sweet syrupy tone that will definitely put a diabetic in shock.
“Ma, you gave me $50 bucks before I left the house remember? I’m fine. I’m okay. Besides it’s a date and he’s paying but yes, I have enough money. Bye.” she hangs up and I can feel the roll of her eyes as I hear the dial tone piercing my ear drum.
I go on about my daily chores and that’s when it hits me….again… Yes, it’s a date and its lunch time. He was taking her to the museum. It’s a public place, I think to myself as I pull out the yellow pages to see if there are any hotels nearby. What am I doing??!! I say to myself. This is my daughter. I raised her well. Yes, this is true, but I didn’t raise the creep she’s on a date with and I didn’t get to meet him to stare into his shifty eyes so that I can send him a mental eyeball message; “If you so much as put one finger on my child, if so much as an eyelash is missing, I’m going to hunt you down boy. You going down!And so are your ears and big lips!”
She’s 21, I think to myself. I raised her to sense these creeps from a mile away but then I remember the one or two–okay maybe four creeps I dated in my life and well, that’s when….
The second phone call is made…
“Oh I was going to leave you a voice mail. I figured you’d be so into the exhibit you wouldn’t hear the phone ring. Enjoying yourself? Anyway, I was thinking of making some stuffed peppers. But I don’t know if you’ll be eating out or coming home for dinner? How’s the date coming along? He didn’t try to swap spit with you did he? Do you think you’ll be coming home for dinner or should I leave the stuffed peppers for tomorrow when you’ll be home?” I asked attempting to sound distracted.
“Stuffed Peppers? I can’t think of food now mom. I’m eating lunch.” she says. But this time she doesn’t sound so annoyed with me so I’m thinking lunch this early? Date must not be going to well. Good. She’ll be home soon.
“Well, let me know if you’ll be home for dinner. How was the exhibit? Did he try to hold your hand? What was the exhibit about? Anything interesting? Did he pay for you to get into the museum? Is he paying for lunch? Was the museum chilly cause you know they always put the AC on so high I freeze when I go in. Is he making cow like sounds when he chews his food because you know if he is, he’s got bad table manners.” I’m rambling I know but this is my child, I’ve earned that right.
She laughs. “It’s all good mom. I should be home in time for dinner. Just save me one pepper. I’ll eat it later on tonight. I’ll call you when I’m on my way.” Click.
Oh yea? I think to myself. What a lousy date. If she’ll be home for dinner then how exciting could this guy be huh? I mean don’t you think after a visit to the museum, and lunch that they’d want to take a walk down Fifth avenue, do some window shopping, maybe even buy her a sidewalk rose or something? What kind of guy is this? Isn’t my baby girl good enough for him? Who does he think he is dismissing her after lunch? Well at least she got a museum visit and lunch out of him, I think to myself.
And I go on about cooking diner. No it’s not stuffed peppers because I don’t have any peppers and nothing to stuff them with and I realize when she comes home she’ll notice that and I’ll just say I changed my mind. She won’t notice especially if he was a crappy date.
And that’s when the third phone call comes.
Except this time she’s calling me.
“Mom? He wants to take me to a movie and we’re deciding which one we want to see but don’t worry, we’ll get out in time for me to catch the last bus back home. Okay?” she asks sweetly.
Of course I say it’s fine. I mean just a moment ago he was dismissing her after lunch so movie and maybe dinner sounded nice…. I thought,…… feeling better that this guy was not dismissing my daughter so quickly.
I finished my dusting and then I think–(I was going to say… and then it hit me…but all that hitting is giving me a headache) “Before the last bus back home….!!!” That bus leaves at midnight. It’s now 2 pm. Who does he think he is spending the entire day with my baby when he hasn’t even met me yet? And does he plan to pay for dinner too? Or will he just feed her oily popcorn and old gummy bears? And what will they have for dinner? Clams? Oysters? Never mind dinner, what did they have for lunch? The lothario is planning to have his way with my daughter and there is nothing I can do about it. She’s 21 and it’s my entire fault. I should have waited a few more years to give birth to her.
And that’s when the fourth phone call comes.
“Hi honey. Did you pick a movie yet? Does this guy work for a living or is he just a college student? What movie are you going to see? Did he pick the movie or you? Has he tried to hold your hand yet? You know movies are really expensive in Manhattan; does he have enough money for all that? I mean first the museum, then lunch, then the movies? I’m sure he’s going to pay for snacks at the movies. He hasn’t asked you to chip in any money has he? Are you having fun?”
I hear laughter. Laughter? Oh goodie. This player is messing with my daughter and she can’t see it and she’s laughing and I’m going to kick his butt when I meet him and she’s laughing?
“Mom, I’m on my way home. He got called into work. But he promised we’ll make up for this another time. He paid for every thing and yes he works with his dad and he’s a nice guy mom. He didn’t even hold my hand. He kissed me goodbye…on the cheek mom and he waited until the bus came and then he grabbed the train to work. I should be home in about half an hour.” I exhaled. “Awww what a nice young man. I’m sorry your date got cut short but hey, at least you know a little about him and have something to look forward to next time. I gotta run hon…” I said as I grabbed my purse and headed for the store to pick up the peppers for dinner.
Copyright © 2006 by Sonia Agron
Word count 2,343