Because it sure is surreal sometimes

Because it sure is surreal sometimes

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Goodfellas guide to multitasking

Martin Scorsese is a scene-stealing phony who clearly staked out my house for years before baking all of his notes into a mafia-themed film version of a rich ziti, dripping with cheesy, philandering husbands, drugged out hoo-ahs (whores in Jersey) and marinara-making wiseguys. Of course, a drugged out whore and a philandering husband do not live in my home, but there is marinara sauce and cheese, and the insanity of multi-tasking.

The similarities are close enough. After all, what do you think those disclaimers of "any person resembling these characters, living or dead is a coincidence" are all about?

Just dreamed it up out of thin air, right Marty?

My red, runny nose you did.

The latest installment of Goodfellas of Amador County happened just a few days ago, when I got that all too familiar feeling of being in the weeds without a whacker. I had a raging head cold. Snot flowed. Someone had rearranged my face.

My plate was so full it would have fed my mom (she's Italian.) My suburban thundered forth through the highways and biways of my town like an '88 Caddy, bags of guns and money (groceries and hospice donations) in the trunk and a helicopter that circled overhead (the clock) watching my every move.

My moves, by the way, were legendary. In the next ten minutes I had to lose the helicopter, pick up two kids, drop one off at basketball practice, make a stop at the hospital, the doctor's office and the beauty salon and get home in time to fulfill the promise I made to my husband that morning to make his favorite dish - Chicken Cacciatore - and still have all of us on the couch for American Idol at eight. The pressure was on.

No time for getting stuck at a light, I whipped a right turn into the gas station, cut the corner and popped out on the other side of the intersection, narrowly ahead of the school bus instead of stuck behind it. Basketball practice started in five minutes. Calling the coach, who doubled as my husband, and claiming a flat tire was not an option. I needed a plan.

I sped, I dialed, I broke the law. I watched the helicopter. I wiped my nose on my sleeve as my 9 year old answered the phone.

"Landry, listen; I need you to do something."


"LANDRY! It's me!! Where's Jay?"


"LANDRY! Turn away from the television. Listen carefully. Ready? Go tell Jackson to make sure he's ready for practice. Tell him to get his water and a sweatshirt and be outside in front of the house. I'm two minutes - no wait - tell him I'm thirty seconds away. GO NOW AND TELL HIM!!"

"Mom, can I have a snack?"

"Landry! Go do what I said NOW!"

"Fine." (sound of phone being put even closer to her mouth)


"Mom, when did you say you were coming home?"


"JAAACCCKKKSOOOON MOM IS OUTSIDE NOW WAITING FOR YOU! Um, Mommy?" she said in that sweet voice that basically ends my hysteria for the moment, lest I have to crown myself Worst Mother Ever and Eternal.

"Yes, sweet pea. What's up?" I said, wiping my nose.

"Mom, what do we have to eat?"

"Honey, I'll be back soon. I've got to run some errands," I said, hissing at my son to hurry up and shut the door as he poured himself slowly, one appendage at a time, plus his gym bag, into the front seat. "Bye, hon, see ya in a bit," I said to my daughter.

"Mom but wait I -" I hear as I snap the phone shut.

I pulled away from the house. Did I see a second helicopter? I knew I didn't have much time. If I cut through the abandoned car dealership behind the school, I'd be able to go left at the highway and sneak through the bank parking lot to the back of the elementary school where daughter number two was waiting. But first, I had to pick up more drugs (x-rays) from my dealer (the hospital) for my buyer (Dr. Pinhead) who seems to have perfected the art of needlessly billing insurance companies by ordering bi-weekly x-rays of a minor arm fracture. But before I did that, I had to get my son to the airport (gym) to catch his flight to Panama (basketball practice) because if I didn't the supplier (my husband) would break my kneecaps (give me that hateful "I'm-very-disappointed-in-you" look).

We pulled up in front of the airport terminal (gym entrance) and I shoved my son, his gear bag full of guns and money (basketball and water bottle) out the door. The bag popped open when it hit the ground. We were on a hill. Everything splattered. Drugs and hundred dollar bills were everywhere.

"Mom, what are you doing?"

"Haveagoodpracticeseeyalaterbye," I spewed as his shoes tumbled down the hill toward the bricks of cocaine (basketballs).

I roared away, already planning the five minutes I'd have between getting home after making all my drops and being at my eyebrow waxing appointment in the next town. I needed to get a head start.

Opening my phone, I pushed the buttons with my thumb, kept one eye on the phone and the other on the highway. With my other eye, I watched the helicopter watch me.

"Landry it's mom. I need you to get something out of the freezer in the garage and put it in the microwave to defrost."

"What? Mom, where are you?"

"I'm in the car. Just listen. Put the phone down and go out to the freezer and take out a package of heroin."



"Okay, okay. How long do I put it in the microwave for?"

"Just push 'defrost-1-start'. That's all you have to push. 'Defrost-1-start.'"

"What are we having?"

"Chicken cacciatore."

"Mom, are you talking on the cell phone while you're driving?"

"You're cutting out. Gotta run."

I glanced at the helicopter: the guns (groceries) had been in my trunk for more than an hour; the drugs (ice cream, frozen fish sticks) wouldn't last much longer. I wiped my nose on my sleeve again, watching the helicopter. I decided to bypass the stop at home and instead go straight to my next drop (eyebrow wax).

Forty-five minutes later, I pulled into the garage. I went into the house. A frozen pork roast sat on the counter - next to the microwave. A note lay beside it.

"Honey - Basketball practice cancelled - the band needed the gym. Meet us at Round Table."

I walked straight to the safe (wine rack) and pulled out my handgun (Zinfandel).

Then, I pulled the trigger.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

It takes a stink to raise a man-child

Let’s see….where to begin. Have I ever mentioned that my 12-year old son is a solid B student, gifted athlete, handsome devil, but living schizophrenically in two worlds? Not only that, he can pull you over to the dark side in just one sentence. Conversing with him is like being adrift on Lake Michigan in a cardboard box and no sail. If you sit perfectly still, the best you can hope for is calm seas. Try and lean one way or another to affect the direction and you might as well call it a day.

While I usually know right where I stand with regard to any of my three daughters, (“My hair is fine. Go away.”) with my son it’s a bit trickier to discern exactly what he needs from me at any given moment. See, he’s twelve and seems to have a foothold in both boyhood and adolescence. One minute he’s gooning around in his annoying sing-song voice, happy and carefree. Then, the phone rings. I answer it and tell him it’s for him. He takes the receiver. The sound that comes out when he says hello alerts me to the fact that he’s hiding some kind of sound-activated bass device in his sweatshirt. Mono-syllables squeeze forth in a forced baritone:

“Yeah. What’s up….Yeah. Yeah. Wait. I’ll ask. Mom. Can I go to DJ’s? Yeah. See ‘ya.”

Then, the phone call is over. Click.

“Wah-wah-wah, aaaaaahhhh-puuuukowie-neener!!” he yells, scooting along the kitchen floor in his oversized tennis-shoe slippers, chasing the dog out of the kitchen.

See what I mean? My little goofball one second, someone’s knight-in-shining-pre-pubescent-armor the next.

The troubling part is that he seems completely fine with his dual-personality. It’s me that is left scratching my head one second and on the verge of a psychotic break the next. Like the other night when I went into his room to tell him goodnight. I found him standing in the middle of the room looking around at nothing in particular. This is normal. That he was also wearing the underarmor he’d had on during his basketball game a few hours earlier struck me as odd.

“Are you going to sleep in the shirt you had on under your basketball uniform?” I asked.

“Yeah,” he said with that half-grin that told me he at least saw the door I was opening – whether he would choose to walk through it was another matter.

“Sheesh, Jay, how can you sleep in a shirt you just played a game in? You might get away with it now, but you won’t get away with it when you start to smell…” my voice trailing off to that mumblespeak that always serves as an introduction to the topic of puberty. He really perked up at that point.

“Well, do I smell? I’ve been wondering. I don’t know what it smells like,” he said in his man-child baritone. He also seemed….eager.

Now it was I who stood in the middle of the room, staring at nothing in particular. I was at a crossroads – a body odor fork in the road. Now what? I wondered. In an instant, I did what any caring mom would do. I lifted my arm.

“Here. Take a whiff,” I said. I knew there was only one way to paint this picture for him.

“Well, can you smell me first?” he asked. I said sure. I knew I’d smell a whole lot of nothing, but I played along.

“Nope, I don’t smell a thing really. Now you try it,” I said, offering up the Mother of all pits.

“Ewwww!!!! I gotta go poooootttttty…” my son squealed, flapping his arms from side to side with elbows pinned to his torso, flying out of the room and down the hall.

Just when they think they’re all grown up, they remind you there’s still a little time left.