Reason I Screen my Calls
mother's been married and divorced seven times. She calls herself
"The Liz Taylor of Fresno." Like Liz she is rich, drunk
and used to be pretty. Unlike Liz she has colitis, cirrhosis of
the liver, and only one eye. Her last husband, Cliff, was a manure
salesman with an extended stomach and racist sense of humor. They
were married almost a year when she convinced herself, and then
others, that he was trying to kill her. She "remembered"
that he had been in the CIA, and was a trained hit man. So of course
she kicked him out, filed for divorce and hired a large Mexican
named Julian, who carried a gun, to protect her like she was a rap
star and needed her back covered when she rolled out in the hood.
I should mention she never rolled out. Her lack of driver's license
and eyeball, combined with her colitis, made driving not only illegal
but messy. Her hairdressers, husbands and psychiatrists always came
to her. So her armed bodyguard basically followed her around the
house while she was in her robe.
After a few months with only her Spanish-speaking gunslinger and
her many personalities to keep her company, she grew lonely. One
night Mom found a lump in her breast and decided she had cancer,
which spurred her reconciliation with Cliff because who cared if
he killed her now that she was already dying? Of course she didn't
have cancer, it was just an excuse to get him back after she'd ruined
his name, reputation and manure business.
felt it unfair to fire Julian, who had done such a good job protecting
her life, so she kept him on as a live-in bartender. This way when
Cliff came home from a hard day of looking for work, Julian was
there to mix him a drink. Not wanting Julian to sit idle all day,
she got up as early as possible and drank until Cliff came home.
And still the marriage didn't last. One day, for unknown reasons,
Mom fired both Julian and Cliff and decided to put herself back
on the market.
My mother is the reason I screen my calls. And yet tonight I'm so
caught up watching NYPD Blue that I pick up the phone when
I've met someone." (My mother calls me her sister -- don't
only been a few weeks since Cliff hit the road, and I can't help
but wonder how my attractive, functional and single friends go months
on end without meeting someone, yet my one-eyed mother who shits
herself reels them in.
this is it. He's 43, his name is Rudy. He's a jazz musician and
can't see me cringe over the phone as she describes the gory details
of their sex life. After she boasts that she no longer needs her
vibrator, she comes to the point.
thinking of getting married again, Sis."
I can hear the ice in her glass hit the side as she takes a drink.
the thing I'm worried about is -- he's never had any kids."
is what she's worried about? She drops the phone and falls out
of bed. As she bangs around on the floor, I'm able to catch up on
the NYPD Blue plot. The snitch who Franz got his information
from on the guy he's holding in custody for homicide might actually
be the perpetrator. Love this show.
a while my mother rights herself. "Sorry, the damn maid puts
so much lemon oil on my bedside table that everything just falls
off. Anyway Sis, I need a favor -- will you have Rudy's child for
our surrogate. You don't have to have sex with him if you don't
assures me that she'd pay for me to be artificially inseminated
-- even though it's more expensive than the old-fashioned way.
a win-win situation, Sis. Will you do it?"
wait to tell my friends about this. Their parents are boring compared
to mine. They don't projectile vomit, or hold conversations with
bits of blood leaking out of their mouth, let alone ask them to
birth their own brothers and sisters.
don't understand why you're not jumping at this chance Sis. You
know I'd do it for you! I love you and if you
don't do this for me then ... I'll know you've never loved
has worked herself into a grief known only to mothers of wartime
heroes. Still she manages to talk through her sobs, "Don't
forget, I gave you life, so really I'm just asking
for you to pay me back!"
is no way in the world that I would say "yes," but since
she is upset, to calm her down I tell her I'll think about it. Oddly,
she takes this as a slap in the face, either because she can see
through my veiled "no," which would be amazing considering
the few brain cells she has left, or because she's insane -- which
I'm leaning towards.
takes a dark turn. "So you won't have my child?! Because you
are a greedy goddamn vulture! You won't help me have another baby
because there will be less fucking money for you when I die!"
are in a bad place now. So, I suggest politely that I'd rather talk
to her when she's... "had some sleep" is the euphemism
I settle for. The ensuing scream would make any horror movie actress
not drunk!!! Tell her, Rudy!"
voice slurs on the line. "Your Mom isn't drunk."
that Rudy's been on the phone the entire time. "What's wrong
with that?!" she defends him. "We're talking about his
children, he has every right to be involved!"
has a point. Still, what can I say? I'm missing all of NYPD Blue.
a few seconds of silence my Mom speaks. She's no longer upset. Her
next emotion has arrived and must be expressed. "Rudy,"
she says gaily, "You know what we'll do? We'll call Alyse."
my younger daughter, she's much prettier than Andrea. A far better
with that she hangs up. I look at Dennis Franz eating a hot dog
as the credits roll. I'll never know who murdered that florist,
or how my mother could pick my sister over me.
version for easy reading
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