I have had the, um, experience of living with my mother as an adult. I was in my early twenties at the time. First when I dropped out of college, then when I dropped out of college again. (I proceeded to drop out of community college and to drop out of college one more time while I was living in her house. I am an overachiever at underachieving.)
We watched a lot of television together. My mother really likes risqué television. I’m not judging, it’s just one of her things. You wouldn’t think it, because she’s a real churchy lady, but she likes shows with a lot of sex and cursing in them. Dream On, Arli$$, Coupling, Mrs. Brown’s Boys–shows like that. I can’t always predict what she’ll like and she won’t, so I don’t suggest anything to her. But she suggests this shit to all her friends and sees nothing wrong with it. She reminds me of the nun who read the Decameron and then told the whole convent about it like it was Chicken Soup for the Soul that she had read at the dentist’s office.
Anyways, I don’t like watching this shit with Moms. Moms will ask me in front of my brother if I’ve had a Brazilian if it comes up on the television, y’all. I preferred watching Diagnosis, Murder, Mystery!, Murder She Wrote, or anything that was on public television or PAX. Oh, and moms is also one of the few people I know who loves Nash Bridges, NCIS, BONES, and will watch Three and a Half Men repeats. Yes, she doesn’t care if she’s seen that episode before, she’ll watch that shit again.
What do I like to watch? Besides flashing lights? I liked the old Late Night with Conan O’Brien, which Moms ruled “decidedly odd.” I liked House, MD in the first season, but only because the diseases were so nasty. One of my hobbies is nasty illness. Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy is my very favorite. I used to love Greg the Bunny, which Moms did not. We have different tastes, different senses of humor, different styles, different interests, and different groups of friends. We come from different places. We read different books. We see different movies. She likes diversions. I like to be challenged. She likes predictable romantic comedies. I like absurdism. She likes traditional Hollywood hunks. I tend to like the ones that are kind of creepy.
Anyways, there was an episode of the old Ellen show that we were watching one night where Ellen’s mom came to town and wanted to kick it with Ellen. She wanted to be friends and do all the friend things with Ellen, like get beers and “hang out.” Mom didn’t think it was funny.
“We’re friends, aren’t we Seer?” She said it all matter-of-factly.
I am an idiot and shot from the hip.
“Uh, no, Mom. Not really. You’re my mom. We get along way better than most moms and daughters, but if you weren’t my mom, I don’t think we’d hang out.”
There was shocked silence.
The next day, she told me that I really hurt her feelings. I asked her why.
“Because I really think we are friends!”
I let it go. I don’t like arguing with delusion. But we aren’t. They cut me out of her womb in 1977. That’s how we met. I like her, but we really, really don’t have that much in common except history.
Here’s a case in point. We were talking on the phone the other day (which is really her waiting for me to stop talking so she can start talking again, let’s get real. A lot of the time she has to ask me what I said again because she zoned out. She either has the television on mute or is playing computer solitaire. I know my place in this relationship), and she mentioned that she was reading a Southern book for her book group. She said she wasn’t quite sure what make a book Southern. I mentioned there was a great essay by a professor from a while back that posits a piece of literature is Southern if there is a dead mule in it.
Now, I just want you to think about this for a second. I just told my mother that I knew of an article that said all Southern literature includes dead mules. I think this = awesome. What say you, Reader?
All right. What did my mother say?
“There are no dead mules in Fried Green Tomatoes. That’s a Southern book.”
Mom, you are not my friend.
I didn’t argue with her. I did send her the link to the article. It is incredibly long, and brutal, and wonderful, and catalogs many mules who die for the cause of art.
What did she say? I don’t normally quote people’s emails, but really, I need to do this today.
I read the essay and just skipped over most of his examples. I understand his point, but I don’t know if every critic would agree with him. I don’t remember a dead mule in Fried Green Tomatoes, which is considered southern literature. I think critics go too far to prove a point.
Mom. Oh, Mom.
I suppose maybe today I’m a critic going too far to prove a point. But I think my audience will agree with me.
This is why I had to make a decoy blog. It’s begun, by the way, and it’s very bland. Like Malt-o-Meal. Hit me if you want to read it, but I don’t see why you should.