And so…about three years ago, I go to the family get-together in Florida. And it’s a cool January night in Tampa; I’m doing an art project with the kids, we’re painting on these cute little canvases. I’m making a purple smiley-face.
And my mom comes up to me…dead sober…and looks me in the eyes and says,
“I just think I should tell you…I never wanted to marry your father. You were an accident, and your father convinced me to keep you. But I had other things I wanted to do with my life, and they were completely derailed to be with this man I didn’t want to be with. And so. I just wanted you to know.”
My reaction (cue the theme music):
You see, I have to laugh at stuff like that. What else can you do? I felt like the theoretical baby at the heart of that Gov. Ralph Northam gaffe (you know: the ones the Democrats probably leaked his offensive medical school pics to the press to distract from).
Am I being offensive? Can I admit that it has crossed my mind more than once about what would have happened to my fetus if it would have been relatively easy in 1973 (the year of Roe v. Wade) to abort me?
What my mother confided to me on the lanai (a Golden Girls-level lanai, I always wanted to use that word!) as I painted my purple smiley-face was not a surprise to me. Her old pedophile boyfriend told me this straight-up when I was around 14 years old, I suppose as part of the process of trying to “groom” me. He told me that my mother, after finding out she was pregnant with me, wanted an abortion.
Further: she made it clear my entire life that she would have been happier had not life taken its fickle turn. When I was a child, she used to tell my dad—in front of me—that she could have married a millionaire & had been living in luxury, had she not married him. I always felt like I ruined my mother’s life. I always tried to get her approval, as if to somehow “reverse” her original opinion.
There is no black-and-white here. Looking at things from the position of my mother—a smart woman in her twenties (a biologist), suddenly knocked up by some goofball she met at a disco—it would be easy to recommend to her a clean and quick abortion to extricate herself from that entire situation. She could be a person on Reddit TwoXChromosomes right now, explaining her case—and people would encourage her to abort me.
And as for myself, I’m Pro-Choice…but I’m Pro-Choice knowing that I was exactly the type of fetus in exactly the type of situation that gets aborted—unwanted, unplanned, and made to feel her ENTIRE life those two adjectives.
There is no black-and-white here…my mom has also told me that of COURSE she wanted me, that getting the news that I was going to be born was the BEST of her entire life. She crocheted me pillows. She sewed me dolls. And, of course, she carried my ass for nine months.
As I always say, my default phrase of choice: what a fucked up situation.
I can’t get my mom’s approval. The closest I got was when I worked at MTV; because that was a “known” quantity.
You ever seen the movie The Grifters? I’ve felt like John Cusack in that movie. Not that I was ever a good liar, nay anything close to a “grifter.” But I sometimes felt like my mom was pushing me in that direction. She gave me some of her sexy undies to wear when I was in my early teens; I cut them up in front of her with a pair of scissors. When I was in my twenties, she would try to set me up with some of her lucrative “prospects” as a “placeholder” while she was busy with someone else. One of these guys ended up being the man I knew as my unofficial “stepdad”—a dude in his SIXTIES. I never dated him or anything like that. But she did try to set me up with him.
He was a great guy. An anomaly.
I remember watching The Grifters with my mom; and that end scene, where his mom is accidentally responsible for him cutting his throat open with the glass…I remember watching this with my mom in her house in Cape Cod, the one she shared with my “step-dad” before he died of cancer.
And, unlike that incident on the lanai, she wasn’t sober…she was soft-eyed, tipsy, sleepy, sinking into her easy chair with her slippered feet resting lightly on the ottoman.
She’d listen to the TV very loud; a carryover from when she was with that other-other guy, the one who was a cop/probable CIA agent. He would put the TV on full-blast, raging inside at his inevitable physical breakdown and deafness due to age. And so she kept the TV loud, even more than a decade since he had passed. I’d wait until she’d softly pass out into oblivion, lower the volume on the remote, and then quietly pad away to my room with my own glass of claret clutched between my fingers
My mom considered me a “waste.” I had good bone structure, she said; even with that twisted spine. I had great skin. I was “pretty”—you know, despite that nose. If only I wasn’t so fat.
I was a WASTE…I could have maneuvered myself well into my second lucrative marriage by now…I could have had property. And do I have the stones to criticize when I’m the person borrowing money from her? Even this computer I type this out on now…she paid for it! She made the sacrifices in a primitive world…she knew how hard it was for women to get ahead…she was a SCIENTIST! She almost got her PhD! She could read long long lines of chemical compounds and understand what the FUCK that all was! That’s all she wanted to be: a scientist! But she felt you could only get ahead by sleeping around—that was System.
And…she chose not to sleep around…she chose to keep me…and my dad died early leaving her with three kids and hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt…and she said “fuck it.” She was like: “you can’t win.”
And so years later, when I told her I was being sexually harassed by my boss she said: “Maybe you could try going out on a date with him. Maybe things could get lucky.”
Which is all to say…my sense of women, sometimes, is all fucked up. My sense of Self is sometimes all fucked up.
Her latest obsession is that perhaps I’m a lesbian…that if I was a lesbian, that’d be OK. Lesbians were “OK.” There’s a nice lesbian couple living right across her and her current boyfriend in the gated community, and they are very nice. Lesbians are “OK.”
To say your daughter is a lesbian…I think she thinks it’s kinda “easy” to explain, it could explain away a lot. I think she also has the same instinct my old gender therapist did—the MRA guy—that I could still attract a lucrative “catch” well into my middle age if I was going for the same sex.
But at my age, in terms of dudes? She feels I should seek out a wealthy 70-or-80-year-old. Maybe a former military guy. He’ll really appreciate it. Make sure I’m taken care of. In this primitive world.
You know: if I lost weight.
My mom had an unnatural hatred for actor John Ritter. Yes, I think that will be the last confession here regarding her (oh, there are more).
She hated John Ritter. She would see him in something on the TV and just stop everything and be like: “I HATE THAT SONOFABITCH!!! I HATE HIS FACE!!!”
Yes, I think that’s where I’ll leave it. Typing on the computer she bought me.