Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Mom Just Doesn't Know

As far back as I can remember, I did not get along with my mother. I don't remember being a particularly happy child.  In fact, I hated pretty much most of my childhood. Looking back, I realize my life could have been much smoother had I not been a rebellious kid who NEEDED to state her case and never learned that sometimes, it's better to just shut up and let the adult say whatever unfair or untrue thing they were saying.  This is especially important if you are raised in the atmosphere of "Do as I say, not as I do," "Authority is never to be questioned," and "What happens in this house, stays in this house."

Back then I lived in a small town that had a legitimate old fashioned general store- you know, creaky wooden floors, dusty merchandise, and the gossipy clerk who knew everyone in town.  Many times my mother would send me off with a dollar get her a pack of cigarettes-Winston Lights in the gold pack-which where  $.75 a pack (Damn I'm old!).  It was about a quarter mile walk so it got me out of the house and my mother's general vicinity for about 45 minutes or longer.  I'm convinced that a good number of these trips were a direct result of our arguing.  In hindsight, I think she probably should be commended because I believe; ONE, she probably desperately needed the cigarette after dealing with me and, TWO, she mostly likely was getting me out of her sight to save me from being beaten to death with the nearest available object- which by the way, was a real and distinct danger.

So off I  would go to the general store furious at her for sending me, furious over whatever we were arguing about, and furious with life in general.  The walk there was usually quick and filled with lots of muttering and stomping.  The stomping was as much out of anger as it was about revenge.

I would bang along muttering about her and her "stupid cigarettes" STOMP! and her "stupid quarter change that she wouldn't let me buy a candy bar with" STOMP! "if it was a neighbor kid, they would have gotten the quarter" STOMP!  "I bet Curt (my brother) would get the quarter" STOMP!  "go buy me this"  STOMP!  "Go get me that"  STOMP!  "She's so mean" STOMP!  Each stomp was carefully and deliberately aimed at crack in the side walk.  The bigger the crack the harder the stomp... because,  as everyone knows, 'step on a crack and break your mother's back.' I confess, I was well into my teen years still hoping this to be true and still stomping cracks.  What a sight I must have been.

Ah but the walk back was an entirely different story.  It was much slower and very careful. Typically, by the time I reached the store, my temper had cooled and what had previously been a very satisfying picture- each and every stomp resulting in a loud crack as a bone in my mother's spine broke, and then another and another until she was on the floor like a loosely crumpled ball of aluminium foil- was now a horrifying image.  What if I came home and there she was crumpled in all kinds of impossible angles for every crack I had stomped on!?  I mean, sure, she's a big jerk and all.... but.... do I really want my mother to be a crumpled up ball of grumpy mom?  She's mean enough as it is, but if she had to scuttle around like a broken spider how horrible would she be then?  And I would have to look at what I had done every single day.  This is not an okay scenario.  This is serious business.

Now, not only did I have to concentrate on not just missing those big cracks, but undoing what I had done, by missing EVERY SINGLE CRACK in the sidewalk.  Every one.  Do you have any idea how many cracks exist in a small town's sidewalks if you are really looking?  A lot.  The answer is; A LOT.  I can tell you it took a great deal more concentration to make it home than it did making it to the store.

It must have worked because I am happy to report that in spite of years of stomping, I have never returned home to find my mother crumpled on the floor like discarded aluminium.  I would be happier to report that she appreciated my saving her, but I don't think she ever understood the danger she was in.  It seems to me people just never know the lengths you go to to save them.

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