Things My Mother Never Should've Told Me

I’ve been talking about my family a lot lately. They have been crept into the empty spaces of my head, replaced the fuzzy gray static with memories and inside jokes. I do miss them when I am here, in Indiana. I think about them often, and regret that I am not readily able to yell “WEEVIL DANCE!” at my brother and laugh about yet another pointless infomercial with my mother. “A special tray for your meatloaf? It looks like a flattened cheese grater."

My mother and I do share a sense of humor, and—when together—we bring out the stupid in one another. I do not think that anyone else besides my mother would allow me to improvise “Whip Me With a Wet Sock” to the tune of “Hit Me With Your Best Shot.” Furthermore, small, simple-minded children would be afraid of my impersonation of a “scary animal”—something that brought my mother to tears of laughter.

We share a lot of things—shaving cream, shoes, opinions. Sometimes, however, mom can share a bit too much information.

It was two days before I left for Indiana, a Sunday. We had attended church at the lovely hour of 7:45, after which we drove deeper into the city to have breakfast. When we returned home at 10:30 (the time at which I usually wake up), it was already sultry, and the air was heavy with humidity and ravished insects.

“I’m hot,” mom declared as she walked into the house. She picked at the corner of her shirt until she could start to peel it off. Already half-naked and only in the hallway, she announced that she “just wanted to crash.”

“Crash and burn?” I asked, thinking of Savage Garden’s ’90s pop hit. Keeping with the childhood-song theme, I spit out the name of a 1996 Dave Matthews Band hit. “Crash into me? Crash into … the cat?”

“No.” She responded and, without skipping a beat, “I would rather burn the cat.”

I was in my room, at my computer. I sat cross-legged in my computer chair, my knees bent at awkward angles atop the arm rests. My fingers were entwined behind my head, and I squeezed my elbows together as I deeply exhaled. While waiting for my computer to boot up, I heard my mom undressing; her closet door banged open and shut, then open again. The screeching scraping of metal against metal as she shuffled through hangers, fabrics, shirts. She shouted to me as she stripped away her skirt, dusted herself with baby powder and redressed in a comfy, breezy tank top.

“Even my underwear is sweaty!”

My hands had still been behind my neck, but my head was titled down. At her words, however, my face instantly shot up. Eyes wide, I blankly stared past my doorway and into the hallway.

“I don’t need to know these things!” I shouted out of the side of my mouth.

“Oh, come on,” she said, closing her closet door and strolling into the hallway. “It’s for your book.” She assumed confidence and masterfulness. “Chapter Twenty-three,” she bouncily enunciated. “Things My Mother Never Should’ve Told Me.”

I smirked. “That’ll be followed by Chapter Twenty-four—Shit My Grandma Gave Me.”

Mom exploded in laughter, and used each of her hands to brace herself in my doorway. Once recovered, she went into the kitchen to retrieve a glass of tea. I got up from my chair and entered my closet, determined to change into some comfy clothes myself. As I separated and shuffled through layers of shorts and shirts, I thought about pieces of information—factoids, have you—that my mother probably should have never told me.

Such as the fact that she was known as the “Blue Ball Queen” in high school. Such as the fact that my dad used to develop festering calcium deposits on his arms. Such as the fact that, when I’m gone, she allows my cat to eat leftover spaghetti, bread and Goldfish Crackers while she sits in the un-air-conditioned house in her underwear. Such as the fact that I was conceived, without a doubt, on August 6, 1987.


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