Can’t deny I’m disappointed that I didn’t make the final cut for the Listen To Your Mother show, but it was fun to audition and visualize myself on a San Francisco stage.
Since I won’t be reading it, I’d like to share it with you!
A Lioness in a Size Eight Pantsuit
I’m one of eleven children and grew up in a town where I was related to half of the population on both sides of the border. After delivering a perfect son and three civilized daughters, my mother unleashed a passel of boys in rapid succession into our neighborhood, where they terrorized prized rose bushes, cats, and mailmen. The bundles of steaming tamales and homemade cookies my mother sent along with apologetic note cards helped keep the police away, but the tragic fact that she had become a young widow is what kept our neighbors from running us out of town.
If we dared question her authority, a vein would protrude over her arched eyebrow; her green eyes darkening like old moss. This was her house, her rules. When we ran for cover to avoid a spanking, my mother chased us, equally fast on high heels or in fuzzy magenta slippers. If she couldn’t catch us, she used whatever she held in her hand to show us who was boss. She possessed a wicked right-handed throw and could land a potato right between our shoulder blades from a good eighty feet away. The sound of her satisfied laughter, as she felled us, only added insult to injury.
I’d always assumed I’d inherit her prolific childbearing capability and was devastated by my decades long struggle with infertility. When we finally adopted our toddler sons from Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, I reveled that Spanish, my first language, reigned in our household as it did in my mother’s. Our eldest entertained us at dinnertime with bits of songs and phrases he’d learned in pre-school. He tumbled out syllables for milk then pointed to his plate, glass, and fork, translating each from Spanish into English, beaming with pride.
That moment swiped up a decades’ old memory of my mother swaggering into the kitchen one weekend while her brood polished off breakfast. She gestured with a rolled up Reader’s Digest for us to pipe down. A Mexican-bred debutante, sans high school diploma, she delighted in stumping her college-bound kids with newly acquired vocabulary from the Word Power section. Standing center stage in front of the stove, she scowled like Marlon Brando then addressed us as we scarfed our chorizo con huevos.
“I’m horny!” she yelped. “Hor-nee, hor-nee, hor-nee.” Punctuating each syllable with the Reader’s Digest like a conductor’s baton. Food and drink sprayed in every direction. Our side-splitting laughter stymied my mother. My brothers pretended horror while one of my younger sisters, in junior high, blanched and pushed her plate away.
“Well, I am,” she persisted and pointed to the bolded word as I read the entry.
“Ornery, Mom. You’re ornery.”
“That’s what I said, horny.”