May. 8th, 2011

coffeesnob318: (Default)
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Heh. "Don't take shit from any man."

There's actually a funny (well, funny now) story that goes along with this. In our family, it is still ominously referred to as The Foley's Incident.

The parents were in town for a visit one weekend, and we spent Saturday morning at my sister's apartment. I had been woken up about 7:00 a.m. with the cheery call from Dad that breakfast was ready. They, of course, had been up since 5:30. So I stumbled out of bed and walked over to Tammy's, where she was curled up in the fetal position on the couch, nursing a cup of coffee (odd, since she didn't really drink coffee at the time). Her roommate Michelle was more alert, having matched my parents cup for cup (not an easy task) and being a naturally upbeat, energetic sort of person, so she was carrying the conversation about her plans for her next mission trip. So we had breakfast and talked and watched TV for a while. When we talked about going for lunch, Mom mentioned that she needed some new shirts and maybe we should go shopping. We all agreed.

My mother is not fond of shopping. She also doesn't like crowds. Another thing that puts her on edge? Unfamiliar territory. Knowing this, one might think that going to a popular shopping mall on a Saturday afternoon would be a bad idea. Well, you know what? One wasn't there, and One hadn't just sat through five hours of HGTV, making anywhere but home in front of the television seem like a grand place to be.

So we drove to the mall. I say "we," because although I was in the driver's seat, I was definitely getting instruction from the back, particularly regarding the number of cars I allowed to be near me. Apparently, I have power to control traffic. On the freeway. On a Saturday.

We get to the mall and enter at the Foley's (it's a Macy's now) entrance, right by the shoe department. We look at shoes for a while and then wander into the clothes. The four of us - Mom, Dad, Tammy, and I - are talking and joking and having a fairly pleasant time. Then Mom sees something up ahead that she wants and I follow her to give my opinion. After a few minutes, we look around to get Dad and Tammy's opinion, and they are nowhere to be seen.

If you've never lived in West Texas, you may never have had the experience of the weather going from sunny and cool to tornadic and terrifying in the matter of a moment. Having grown up in West Texas, however, I was familiar with this possibility. I believe that this experience prepared me for what happened next.

My mother's smile faded into tight lips barely concealing clenched teeth. When she spoke, it started as a hiss - "Where are they?" - but quickly escalated into a storm. "He knows I don't like doing this. He knows to stay close. He knows I don't know where I am. I HATE GETTING SEPARATED!!!"

I tried calling Tammy's cell, but of course, it went straight to voicemail, because Tammy's cell phone philosophy is that it is for her convenience alone and therefore is turned off unless she wants to use it. Meanwhile, people around us were starting to stare at the very angry woman yelling at her daughter. It was a fair assessment - she was yelling, she was looking at me, she was pointing at me for emphasis. This might have been more mortifying for a normal person, but like I said - familiar.

We turned the corner, and Tammy, blissfully ignorant of what was to come, jumped out playfully and said, "Surprise!" One look at my face, though, and she ducked back in between the clothing racks and grabbed Dad and pulled him out into the aisle. Mom just looked at him and said, "We're going." He asked if we had found anything, and she just repeated, "We. Are. Going. NOW."

We walked in silence to the car. We drove in silence back to Denton. We briefly discussed dinner plans and settled on Applebees. Then we arrived at Applebees, were seated at our table, and continued to sit. In silence.

Our waiter walked up to the table, friendly and chatty, and ended his monologue with, "So how are we doing tonight?"

*crickets*

At this point, I looked around the table at Dad and Tammy looking down at the table and Mom glaring off into the distance, and the utter absurdity of the afternoon hit me. I smiled and replied, "We're fine. You're doing great."

We ordered food, and Mom ordered a milkshake (so we could look forward to a headache from all the sugar - she's diabetic - to add to her already pleasant demeanor. Excellent.), and we finished dinner really quickly. Dad left that waiter a big tip.

We drove back to the apartment - in silence - and Mom had the door open and her foot on the ground before I had the car in park. She slammed the car door and marched quickly enough to get to the apartment before we did but slowly enough for us to notice her slamming the apartment door before we got there. She's always had impeccable timing.

We walked into the apartment to see Michelle sitting in a chair, reading a book, looking startled that Mom didn't answer her chipper "How was shopping?" query. Tammy went to her room and shut the door. I was barely suppressing a laugh but did so long enough to make an excuse about having to do laundry, and Dad followed me out to "help," leaving sweet, unsuspecting Michelle alone in the living room with my fuming mother.

Once we were outside, my dad asked me, "Is your mom mad about something?" After thirty-something years of marriage, apparently he didn't "know." So I explained it to him, and he agreed that she needed some cooling off time and came with me to my apartment.

About an hour later, we got a call from Michelle. She was whispering. "I don't know what happened today, but you need to get back over here. I just got a forty-five minute lecture on not taking shit from any man. It was inspiring and scary all at the same time. I've never heard your mother cuss like that! But she's very riled up. I can't believe you all left me alone with her!!!"

"Michelle, where are you, and why are you whispering?"

"I'm in my bathroom. I don't want her to hear just in case it upsets her again. I don't know what to do, but I'm not coming out until you get here."

So my dad and I went back over and found Mom calmly making a sandwich. I started making coffee. She said, "Tammy's in her room. I don't know where Michelle went."

I calmly replied, "She's in her bathroom, hiding from you."

Mom looked at me and burst out laughing. "I guess I was a little intense. Poor Michelle."

"Yes, poor Michelle, indeed." Our laughter brought everyone out of hiding, and we enjoyed a peaceful evening.

*sigh* I love that story.

And I love my mom. She is quick-tempered, intense, sometimes irrational, and particular. She is also able to laugh at herself and admit when she's being quick-tempered, intense, and irrational (being particular, she's proud of and has proudly passed it on to both of her daughters). She has beaten breast cancer and nursed my dad back to health when he beat prostate cancer. And because she learned early not to take shit from any man, she chose a great man to whom, next year, she will have been happily married for fifty years. She has taught me strength and courage and how to be true to myself. I wouldn't be who I am without her.

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