You don't want to know what kind of hair the cap hath hide. And Berenstain's a Jewish name, no?
One of the reasons I fled Miami the moment my mortarboard hit the ground post-high school wasn't so much the hot hot heat, or the lack of culture... a big reason I left was because of the people. I'm sure everyone reading this can think back to high school, back to cliques that they were above, people they disliked, etc. For me, that was like 90 percent of the population. I wanted out. Thankfully, following a near miss with the University of Florida, which would have been a regurgitation of all things hated, I moved to New York and have been thriving in my hatred ever since.
My parents weren't so lucky. They still reside in Miami, a city I've learned to love after all these years, namely for bargain shopping, but also for the good memories I still have. Inevitably when I return home, I see or run into someone from my past, and have unbecoming seizures a la the little boy in "The Shining".
My mother, after raising her two kids and bidding us adieu from her abode, decided to get a job again about a year ago. Dear ol' Dad was the one pulling in the kosher bacon, while Mother kept us well-fed and neurotic. She wasn't sure exactly what line of business she wanted to get into. Having not worked in an office for 30 years, she enrolled in a computer course to bring her up to speed. 4 weeks later, and this woman can play virtual Solitaire like nobody's business. Typing with acrylic nails, on the other hand, has proved more difficult.
Finally, following a friend's advice, she figured that retail would be a perfect match. Upon meeting her, people immediately love my Mom. As a child, my friend's would say "You have the coolest Mom!" I'd grin and agree, then huddle in the corner with some twigs and a Q-tip, trying to massage out the numerous emotional scars that any Jewish mother, no matter how funny and wild, would leave on their child.
Some children choose to honor their hard-working moms with statues made of petrified fecal matter.
Eventually, mother got hired at a retail store in our local, fancy-shmancy mall. She loved it immediately. The community, her co-workers, all the characters she was meeting. After a few months, our conversations turned to this: "Hi Mom, how are you?" "Oh the store got in some beau-tee-ful jackets the other day - drop dead gorgeous! I had a Romanian woman come into the store yesterday, a model, she tried on our new poplin khakis, made in Italy, they looked stunning on her!! Cash or charge?" ad nauseum.
Possibly the best part of this whole thing is that every week, some person from my youth will make their way into the store and inevitably remember her. "Excuse me, are you Michelle's mom?" By asking her this question, you are pretty much locking yourself into a 45-minute answer. After confirmation of that yes, I am her daughter, my mother will launch into a 20 minute tirade about all the things I'm up to ("She works on Wall Street!" she tells people, leading them to believe that I'm a Charlie Sheen redux and not some shit-on assistant at a law firm). Eventually, she'll run into the break room to pull out some random publication (the "Upper West Side Monthly Newsletter", for example) where my name was printed once 3 years ago. Her arms filled with yesterday's news and everlasting pride, she will regale these virtual strangers on a history of my doings. Of course, this pleases me greatly.
Now, most of the time, when the name of an old acquaintance is mentioned , I groan. Silly me, I thought I'd never have to hear about these people ever again.
Yesterday, my mother shares a new story with me. She mentions that a very handsome, tall guy comes into the store, and asked if she was my mother. It turns out, I had been in a youth orchestra with this gentlemen. (Yes, before I was a maestro of the blogging keyboard, I sat 5th chair, 1st violin in a Miami youth orchestra full of well-to-do, but horribly socially awkward, children.) I had trouble remembering who this guy was -- it's hard to place a face after 11 years.
"He's gorgeous! Blonde, perfect teeth, a real catch. He plays cello professionally!" my mother beamed through the phone. "He was with a girl, she was kind of plain. Not sure if she was his girlfriend." I found this very suspect. Why would such a gorgeous successful guy be dating a "shlumpy"-ish lady? I needed to do some stalking research.
So, I signed on to everyone's best friend, Friendster, to search his name and place a face. Sure enough, there he was -- and yay! I was closely connected! Here's how the conversation between me and my mother went down:
Me: Hmm... I still don't quite remember this guy. (clicking through pics) Mom, he is definitely gay.
Mother: What?? No he isn't! He's gorgeous! Tall, blonde, perfect teeth --
Me: Mom! He's gay!! I can see it in his face - he's a huge gay!
Mother: How can you tell?
Me: Well, first of all, it says he's intereted in dating men.
(It occurs to me Mother has never been on Friendster)
Mother: Whaddya mean "interested in dating men."
Me: Oh, and in one of his pictures, he has the words "Butt Slut" written in marker on his forehead.
Me: "Butt slut."
Mother: (laughing) Where are you seeing this? Send me the website, I wanna see!
Me: No, Mom, you can't see because you need to be invited to Friendster.
Mother: So how do I get invited?
Me: Someone who's on it sends you an e-mail.
Mother: So send me one!
Me: Mom! I'm not inviting you to be my Friendster!
Mother: Why not?
Me: That's crazy! No one does that.
Mother: Why do you care so much! What are you hiding?!
Me: Nothing! No one asks their Mom to be their Friendster!
Mother: But I want to see what he looks like!
Well, this went on for about 5 more minutes, until we compromised that I would e-mail her a picture of "Butt Slut" to prove that he was into guyz. I dare not tell you how many times the words "Butt Slut" were exchanged between Mother and I, but let's just say: "Too many."
When recounting this story to a friend, she suggested I invite my Mom to Friendster. "Everyone loves her!" I think that might be my main problem. What if I invited my Mother to Friendster, and she ended up being more popular than me? With more friends, and (God forbid) more testimonials?! And can you imagine her bulletin board postings? "Michelle passed another pregnancy test!!"... or "20% off all Summer Cashmere -- Come by, say hello!"
I clearly would not be able to live with myself.