Chick Wit: Waiting for cable guy with Mother Mary

Posted: July 03, 2011

We're in Day 16 of life with Mother Mary, which is now a countdown, like the Iran hostage crisis.

I'm waiting for the cable company to rescue me.

Until they get cable to the cottage, Mother Mary watches TV at my house, with the volume on 86. That's the highest number of the volume on my TV, and it's not a number you should know. It's like having a car that goes 130 miles an hour. You don't need to drive that fast.

Mother Mary does.

UNDERSTAND?

ALSO, ARE YOU GETTING UP?

So, here's what I've learned since you last heard from me:

Matlock starred Andy Griffith, not Dick Van Dyke. I had previously thought they were the same person, but they're not.

The fake laughter on the laugh track of Everybody Loves Raymond erupts in bogus hilarity every 30 seconds, like manufactured waves at a water park. If you're trying to work while the show is on, you'll find yourself waiting for the next wave, like a dripping faucet.

If House is on, Mother Mary has already seen it. This is also true of Seinfeld, Two and a Half Men, and Law & Order, regardless of whether the victims were special.

Oddly, that's a good thing.

Mother Mary will watch only shows she's already seen. If you ask her why, she'll say, "DON'T QUESTION ME."

Last night, so she could see something new, I suggested that we rent a movie on TV. The Hangover was on, so we sat down to watch it together. If you think that a movie with profanity and nudity might not be appropriate for my mother, you're new around here.

As soon as the movie begins, she asks, "IS THAT A REAL TIGER?"

I answer, "YES."

Next question, "IS THAT A REAL BABY?"

"YES."

"IS THAT BABY REALLY CRYING?

"NO. HOLLYWOOD WOULD NEVER MAKE A BABY CRY FOR MONEY."

"BUT IT LOOKS LIKE IT'S REALLY CRYING."

"THEY DO IT WITH SPECIAL EFFECTS," I tell her, because it's OK to lie to your mother if it will prevent a cardiac event.

She looks at me sideways. She's hard of hearing, but she's not stupid.

Ten minutes into the movie, it strikes me that The Hangover is not a great choice for her plot-wise, because she asks, "WHAT HAPPENED THAT GUY'S TOOTH? WHERE DID THE CHICKEN COME FROM? WHY IS THAT GUY IN THE TRUNK NAKED?"

I want to say, "DON'T QUESTION ME."

We spend the remainder of the movie screaming questions and answers at each other, after which we're both exhausted, so we call my brother to have him FedEx her hearing aids.

Then it's time for bed, and it turns out that Mother Mary likes a beer before she goes to sleep. She survived throat cancer and the Depression, and if she wants a brewski, it's fine with me. She drinks Bud Light Lime, the choice of frat boys everywhere, and that's OK too.

So we sit in blissful silence, petting the dogs while she drinks her beer, and I feel torn. I could let her sleep upstairs in my house, but then she wouldn't get used to sleeping in the cottage. I decide I have to stick with the plan. So I get her into her lab coat and walk her down to the cottage, holding her bony little hand so the dogs don't trip her. And she makes her way through the grass, which soaks her sandals, and there's a chill in the air, under a night full of stars.

I point them out, and she looks up and smiles agreeably, though she can't see a single one.

I get her inside her cottage and make sure she can lock the door from the inside, which she does. Through the window, she gives me a brave thumbs-up, like an octogenarian astronaut.

"LOVE YOU, MOM," I tell her.

She can't hear, but she knows what I said.


Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella's essays have been published in "My Nest Isn't Empty, It Just Has More Closet Space" and "Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog." Lisa's new novel, "Save Me," is on sale now. Visit Lisa at www.scottoline.com.

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