This is what I got as thanks for my nuanced and thoughtful narrative of yesterday on loathing and loss:
From: Mom (2:12 am)
I did NOT throw away that trashy old t-shirt! You are taking literary license too far.
From: Me (5:25 pm)
You totally tried to throw it away once and I caught you. No lie!
Consequently I will be BURIED in it. Not really, I just like it because it’s so thin and soft, but I don’t really wear it outside the house.
From: Mom (6:10 pm)
I do not recall such an incident with that shirt although I really disliked it; you must have dreamed it. I learned my lesson early, when you were about four, when you looked in the trash and saw that I was throwing away something that you weren’t ready to let go of. I had already had similar discussions with your father who also likes to go dumpster diving. You retrieved it and acted so hurt that I would discard something so precious to you. Who knew? I learned to put stuff in the bottom of the bags I dumped used kitty litter in – sneaky, huh? I’m glad you still have the shirt if you love it so much, and if you die first, I will see that you wear it in your open casket and are then buried in it.
Please note the cunning use of Mom-guage (that’s like language, but with moms! Think it will catch on?) present here. In the first email, we see the harmless tee-shirt described as “trashy” (foreshadowing after the fact!). I have also taken things too far, as in “give a kid an inch and she’ll take a yard, and then wear something slutty at the same time.” Classic mom stuff.
In the second email, she denies memory of – and therefore responsibility for – the incident. She turns it on me nicely with, “you must have dreamed it.” I am a confabulator, see, and my own memory is not to be trusted. Next, we understand that I am an irredeemable packrat practically since conception, just like my father (again, denial of responsibility, due to a fluke of inferior genetics passed down on the patriarchal side. You reproduced with him, Mom! You knew what you were risking going in!).
And what was this mysterious item, so beloved unto me, that she saw fit to callously throw in the wastebin like an old banana peel? Interestingly, she does not reveal the item’s identity. There’s probably a legal term for this tactic, a weak acknowledgment of guilt without actual acceptance. Also, I “acted” hurt. Maybe I was hurt, Mom. Maybe my relationship with that binky had yet to draw to a natural and harmonious conclusion.
I don’t even know how to respond to her revelation about the kitty litter. That is some cold-blooded treachery. You should have been a spy, Lady. America could have used you! And finally, the nail in the open-casket: She knows she’s going to outlive me. She’s going to live to be 173! And she will bury me in the Virgin Island shirt, the red hoodie with the rip in the collar, and the plaid miniskirt I sported all through college. I will knock on Jesus’ door “dressed like a homeless person” (common refrain circa 1998-2003).
You win this round, Mom. You got thirty years on me and brains to spare. But don’t think I’m not wise to you. I ask you this: What happened to my hookah, Mom? The hookah that my boyfriend shipped me from Israel in 11th grade, the hookah I casually brought up twice when I was home for the holidays? Eh? You were AWFULLY EVASIVE. I’d mention it, and before I knew it, we’d be talking about some distant relative’s early-stage cancer. It was three-and-a-half feet tall, blown-glass, and came with a jar of apple shisha (the hookah, not the tumor). Hard to misplace, and yet, nowhere to be found.
If you were a mobster, Mom, you’d tell me it sleeps with the kitty litter.