All posts in Badass

Why Write About My Badass Mom?

As you read these charming, alarming (chalarming: new word) stories about my Badass Mom there are a few things you might want to keep in mind. Or not. You could just start reading them and skip this important preamble but if you go this route please make sure you have your helmet on.

#1. I write about my badass mom in order to understand and forgive her and I write about her in order to understand and forgive myself.  Writing is the best way for me to just see her.  I’ve found that it is incredibly healing and enlightening to write about her as if she were a character I am observing so that is why you might sense a Columbo writing style when I’m documenting important facts about how she likes to hoard Red Velvet Cake Yoplait yogurt and ridicule helpless Alzheimer’s patients. These are pieces of evidence only my inner Peter Falk can share.

#2. I write about her because my long, twisted, harrowing journey with her has ended in a calm place.  I no longer wish for her to be anyone other than who she is and this has meant freedom for me so if I write about her then maybe I will get to hear about other people who have arrived at or are on their way toward or think they’ll never get to the freedom place as well.

#3. I write about her because I think shedding layers is a worthy endeavor. I thought I would forever be tangled up in, confused by and terrified of my painful relationship with her but the absolute opposite has happened and just the other day when she told me that she thought my eyebrows looked like they’d been plucked using a pair of gardening shears it didn’t bother me at all because I have arrived at a quiet nice place and no one’s opinion about my eyebrows is gonna ruin my day. It’s so odd.  And good.  And true.

Don’t Mess With Mom

My mom could kick your mom’s ass.  She could kick your mom’s ass and your dad’s ass too, depending on how agile he was or if he was without any kind of firearm.  She could kick your mom and dad’s ass’s because she, herself, is a Badass.

Besides being a badass she likes to wear Jean Nate.  If she could she’d find the warehouse that it is made and she’d rob it.  She has no front teeth and so she reminds me of a farmer from those old Grapes of Wrath photos.  This is not all the time—that she reminds me of a farmer with no teeth.  But she has no front teeth.

When my sister and I first saw her again, after not seeing her for ten years, the first thing that shocked me was the fact that she was toothless.  This doesn’t seem to bother her much though.  She is bothered by many things but having no teeth isn’t that big of a deal to her.

She can eat a sandwich with the best of them.

Back to Jean Nate.  She’s really into perfume and lipstick and hairspray.  I think this is because she wants to look pretty when and if Ed arrives.  Her plumber boyfriend.  She wears lots of blush so she will appear rosy cheeked and fresh when he comes to sweep her off her feet. Or flush her down the drain.

Ed and mom have been “an item” for quite some time now.  What, 50 years?  She’s 82.  I’m not sure how old he is but he’s older than her.  They’ve been seeing each other since my father left the house to move into his own apartment a couple days after the two of them (my mom and dad) rounded my sister and I up, sat us down in the living room and then informed us that they were getting a divorce.

“Your father is a premature ejaculator,” she explained, with all the care that Joan Crawford would.

So when my dad got the boot she immediately found Ed. Growing up, he was our plumber.  It puts a hitch in their giddy up that he is married to another person.  The married to another person thing did not get in my mother’s way.  Her morals are unbelievably flexible.  Like taffy.  She takes opportunities as they come to her.  Or even if they don’t.

She steals things.  She lies about a lot of stuff.  Especially if it means she will get something out of it.  She is not fond of giving.

When her grandson is turning 16 — “16!  Wow!” I say, she says she wants to give him ten dollars.

“You sister always tells me to give more but I don’t want to give more.  This time I’m going to give the amount that I want to give.  And I don’t want to give much.”

She’s thinking of herself.  She has perfected this ability so well that I’m not sure if she realizes how much damage it’s caused.  It seems to never occur to her that being stingy, mean, dishonest and awful is bound to alienate at least a few people.

Regardless, she has her focus and she knows she has rights.  She just cannot get over the fact that all of us might want to have lives.  This gets her every time.

When I go see her I usually call her when I am exiting the freeway so she can meet me out front.  She lives in an assisted living place that is quite nice but she hates everyone and everything there.  And I mean EVERYONE and EVERYTHING.  She likes to give full, detailed reports about all the morons she has to deal with every day.  I practice deep breathing and keeping my eyes natural or not darting all around in terror when she tells me stories about this asshole or that bastard or Mary the Alzheimer’s sufferer who is so fucking stupid she can’t remember to bring syrup to the breakfast table even though she says she will.

Asshole Mary.  Can’t remember anything.

My mom loves food.  When I was little and I wanted to make sure I got at least one or two Chips Ahoy cookies before my mom devoured them all, I would hide the blue package in the dryer or I’d climb up onto the formica counter, stand up so that I could actually touch the kitchen ceiling and put them way back into the bowels of the uppermost shelf where we kept things that we weren’t concerned with—gravy boats, unused lemonade pitchers, zany glass sets to be used at some big party—and that way the Chips Ahoy would be all mine.

My mom never cooked so she’s far from a foodie but in reality if you compare her passion for Quaker Oats caramel cakes to some raw food eater in Brentwood I think my mom’s devotion is the real thing.   She devours everything in her path but she can’t ever seem to get full.

She’s always had a hard time with her hygiene.  If you mention this to her she’ll insult you, though.  Call you an ass or ask you what you know.

Who asked you?  No one.  So mind your own business.

She is so badass.

Mom Likes To Look Pretty

The other day my mom was tormenting me about why she couldn’t find the fucking Revlon lipstick shade she wanted at Albertsons and I made the mistake of suggesting that possibly she could find a lipstick shade that was almost the shade that she wanted.

Revlon #002.  Pink Pout. That’s her shade.

Making the suggestion to go with #004 or, ironically, #007 was not an option for my mom.  She likes #002 because she doesn’t look good in shades that are not of a pinkish hue.  #002 is the perfect pinkish mauve tint for my mom’s skin tone.  She has always prided herself on her creamy complexion.

It is very important to her that she looks pretty.

At a certain point during the Revlon #002 Incident, after I suggested a Plan B (Stupid. I should have known. My badass mom does not believe in Plan B’s. Ever. It’s like Plan A or Go straight to hell you moron.)—after I suggested Horse’s Ass Plan B and she started cursing about how screwed up Albertsons is and I was getting a little nervous that someone nearby might hear us  (which only made her raise her voice What do you care what these morons think?) I took a stand and told her we just needed to forget about #002 for now and get another shade.  Period.

I mean, what is happening right now is that they do not have Pink Pout #002 and I can’t change that.  I am not a lipstick shade buyer for Revlon. Even though she thinks I should be if that’s what she needs.

A woman across the aisle stared at me as if to say: Mean Daughter.  I wanted to tell the woman that  I’m not mean at all.  She’s got it turned around.  I wanted to tell her that my mom was the mean one.  Like, more mean than probably she could imagine and that if she wanted to spend some time with my mom she’d see in no time:  This woman is really mean.

But I didn’t say anything because my mom was already on to another item on her shopping list:  pens.

My mom goes through so many pens because she spends a lot of time writing awful letters to people.  She writes them on little yellow legal pads that come in handy 3-packs.  One time at the store the legal pads were not in the usual spot and my mom blew her top.

Jesus Christ.  Are they insane?

She meant that the management of Albertsons must be insane to move anything.  Assholes.

She is so badass.

Mom’s Not Too Nice

The main thing to know about my mom is that if she isn’t your mom she will not like it if you call her mom. You know how sometimes, when people are talking about their parent, they’ll refer to them as if they are your parent too? “Sue and I took Mommy to lunch yesterday and it was ever so much fun.” Or say that person meets someone else’s parent, they might say “How is mother doing?”

My mom would not like this. She would be very against this type of bullshit, as a matter of fact.

One time, at Thanksgiving, one of my dearest friends came over to have dinner with us—my mom, my sister and me. I cooked all day and made a very nice meal. During the afternoon, my friend made sure that there was good music playing the whole time. Calm, Thanksgivingey music. Carlos Jobim, George Winston, Mozart. At a certain point, my mom wanted to put some music on although my friend must have done something to slow things down with my mom’s music schedule because she announced to me and my sister that he was a real asshole for not letting anyone else choose the music.

There are so many times that I have thought and even wished that my mother had dementia or Alzheimer’s. This would explain her psychotic lack of tact. But she doesn’t have anything wrong with her brain in that way. She’s still sharp as a tack. If you know what I mean.

She likes to keep her hair nice and styled. If the person who cuts hair at her assisted living place doesn’t show up on the day she thinks is the best day my mom gets mad and talks disparagingly about this person and how she doesn’t know what the fuck she’s doing. I’ve never met the haircutter person but if I ever do I will probably feel embarrassed.

“Hello. I’m Badass’s daughter,” I will say, smiling and trying to look extra kind. “Sorry.”

Sometimes my mom regales me with stories about all the stupid assholes in the place where she lives. Most of them don’t know what the hell they’re doing. There is one constantly terrified looking old woman in particular that my mom thinks is a real jackass.

“She never knows where the hell she’s going. Don’t make eye contact with her.  She’s looking for her room,” my mom warns as the woman shuffles toward me looking for guidance. Maybe I can tell her where her room is? As she gets closer and I am about to help her my mom steps in and takes control.

“Go away.”

The woman cowers and my mom and I are off to the store. Mission accomplished.

She is so badass.

Mom the Little Old Lady

It was the only time I can remember feeling any kind of endearing warmth toward my mother that didn’t have additional mold hanging off it.  No thoughts about how she used to lock me out of the house or how often she used to tell me she really shouldn’t have had me. No memories of how she used to drop lettuce on the filthy kitchen floor and then pick it up and put it back in the bowl.  If I expressed concern she told me I was snooty.

What, you’re too good for lettuce that fell on the floor?

I thought I was I guess.

I wasn’t thinking of all this crap when I walked toward her at the grocery store.  We’d been on our weekly-ish trip to get the items she needed.  Hairspray, yogurt, string cheese, grapes, sugar packets (she actually liked the taste of Sugar In the Raw best and this warmed my heart and gave me the chance to pretend that my mother was a health food nut), stool softener, Ponds cold cream (blue top, green top), Suave hairspray and of course pens and small yellow legal pads for her to write a continuous slew of hate letters to whomever she hated.

My mother likes to express her rage on paper.  She goes through several pens a week.  She likes only two brands of pens.  Sharpies (for the Warning You Better Shape Up Asshole missives) and her beloved Paper Mate Silk ballpoints.  Armed with these and her legal pads she consistently wages battles against anyone and everyone she thinks to be a loser.

The crumpled up discarded versions of notes and letters that didn’t make her editor’s cut are thrown into her bathroom trashcan and my sister and I cannot resist stealing a page or two when we see them there, screaming at someone.

Monica is a loser.  The guy down the hall is AN ASSHOLE.  The lady next door is a THIEF.  You don’t want to get on my mom’s bad side.  Or bad-er side.  She holds a grudge like you’ve never seen and it is virtually impossible to please her simply by being.  You must do for her and you must do for her exactly as she orders you to.

If you do not please her in the way she prefers there is hell to pay. And, obviously, you will be the lucky recipient of a hate letter.

But as I said this time at the store, as I walked toward her and she rose from the chair she had found to sit in while I checked out, she had a cute little old lady look to her and she didn’t seem menacing at all.  She was wearing a pair of navy blue sweat pants with very wide legs.  They were about a foot too short so she had a Little Lord Fauntleroy look to her.  She had taken the string out of the waist so the sweatpants looked like they were lounging pants and she paired them with a nice pink cotton button up shirt that was tucked into the elastic of the flood pants.  Over this she had a fleecy periwinkle sleeveless vest that I got for her from Ross.  She had coveted one that I had from Patagonia so when I saw one on sale at Ross I bought it for her.

I try to score points whenever I can with her.  It is frequent that I am in the negative with her because she is a bottomless pit of demands and she does not fancy me having my own life.  One must stay very alert when in her presence but especially when one is not in her presence.  THINK AHEAD and prepare for surprise skirmishes if you want to stay alive.  This is a good strategy when it comes to handling the barracudaness of her.

So as I walked toward her—my little old lady mom— I felt warmth and sweetness toward her.  Possibly for the first time ever.  She stood up, gave me a slight grin and asked me if I got any good coupons. Coupons are very important to her.  They enable her to add to her stockpile of cold cream and hairspray and this is of utmost importance because if she does not have a larder stocked full with these items she will find someone to blame and that someone is usually a well meaning relative.

She is so badass.