My Mother Was Tasered at a Cockfight
May 11, 2013 § 26 Comments
My mother and I are on a tree-stump dotted lake in a johnboat powered by a hamster on a wheel. We are fishing, if that’s what you call it. She casts right into a bush.
She’s mad at me today.
“Why did you put on your blog that I was tasered at a cock fight? I have never been tasered. I have never been to a cockfight.”
“I liked the way it sounded.”
She picks up another fishing pole and casts again. The hook catches on the long hair of a winsome child playing on the bank and drags her into the water.
“There you go again,” she says. “Exaggerating, if not outright lying.”
“Well, it’s true that you like to fish with at least two poles at once,” I say. “And you do tend to get your lines tangled up and you do cast like a maniac.”
She picks up another fishing pole and casts once again. The hook flies into an American flag outside the federal building, dragging it down to half staff and plunging the country into bewildered mourning.
“You’re doing it again,” she says.
“I’m a writer.”
“You’re an idiot.”
“That’s a good one. I’ll have it write it down.”
“I wish you would not. Also, I wish you would not have written that I was so poor as a child I had to work as a canary in a coal mine. And that I was once a coyote dentist. And that I hunt squirrels in my garden with a shotgun. And that I called Elder Care on you because when you were in charge of me after my shoulder replacement surgery you let a rat gnaw on me.”
“There’s always a hint of truth in everything. You do hate squirrels. And I did suck as your nurse. And you were poor as a child. And you can flip the bird with your middle toe. Admit it, you know you can.”
“That’s ridiculous,” she says. She lifts her bare foot, flips me the bird and then casts into Antarctica.
“I can’t help that you’ve led a colorful life. You started smoking when you were five, and you knew how to wring a chicken’s neck by the time you were, what, eight? And you really did get in a fight with two girls, one with springy hair, and won by grabbing the smaller one by her springy hair and beating the crap out of the bigger one with her tiny body. This is all true and you know it. And the fact that you can flip the bird with your middle toe is comedy gold.”
“I don’t want to be comedy gold. I want to be a cranky old lady.”
“You manage both splendidly.”
She picks up another pole and casts into Pluto, our most discredited of planets.
“You know what?” I say. “I have this vision. We’re at your funeral. Slowly the coffin lid creaks open and your bare foot rises majestically, four arthritic toes curling back to flip the entire congregation the bird.”
“Please do not write that. Please just let me die with a little dignity.”
“Don’t you understand, though, Mom? I write all these things so you will never die.”
“I’m going to die, Numb Nuts,” she says. “And don’t write that I called you Numb Nuts. I don’t even know what that means.”
“No, no, no. You will never die. Not as long as I have a pen.”
My mother shakes her head sadly. “There are so many things you refuse to understand.” She casts again, and her hook flies back through the years, catching on everything.