It occurred to me that I often write about memories of my father on Father’s Day, but I don’t do the same for my mother on her day. Kind of sad, really, but I simply don’t have as many stories about her. However, the other day on Facebook, a young woman posted about how funny it is to hear your parents cuss, and it reminded me of the first time I ever heard my mother drop the F-bomb.
My mother did not swear when I was growing up. At least, I never heard her do so. She was famous for using words such as “gosh” and “darn,”and she didn’t drink or smoke cigarettes either, which pretty much everyone’s parents did back then. As I got into my teens and cussing became something fun and bold to do, I thought Mom was kind of uptight and a bit of a prig.
When I was sixteen, my mom and stepdad lived in a house in Woodland Hills, one of the hottest areas of the San Fernando Valley. They had no air conditioning in that house. In the SFV summers, it got pretty miserable in there.
One weekend I was there, and it was a sweltering Saturday afternoon. My mom and I were home by ourselves, and trying to get comfortable. Mom thought she’d try to take a nap and went into her bedroom, pulling the curtains and turning on a small fan. I stayed in the living room and attempted distracting myself from the heat with a book and cold drink. Not ten minutes went by before my mother’s bedroom door came crashing open, Mom stormed out in just her underwear, and she yelled in abject frustration, “Aaaarggghh! It’s SO FUCKING HOT in here!”
I was so shocked at hearing that word come out of her face, all I could do was blurt, “Moth-errrrrrr!” She looked at me, fazed for a moment, then must have decided “oh, screw it, she’s old enough,” because she just sputtered, “Well, it is!” and then turned and stomped back into her room. I laughed until my stomach hurt.
After that? Suddenly my mother became Mrs. Trash Mouth. She confessed that she’d broken herself of the habit of swearing when my brother was a baby, and he started imitating a few of the more colorful words she uttered. Interesting coincidence, though — she could and would say anything, except for the “c” word. She had the same visceral reaction to it that I do, for her own reasons, I guess. She said my dad used to try to break her of it, desensitize by trying to get her to say it. “Think of it as a name!” he’d urge. “Say this over and over fast — Mike Hunt, Mike Hunt.” (How many of you just tried that?) But she couldn’t do it. Even when she lost her mind and was saying all manner of horrible things, she never spoke that word. I don’t think I will either.
I think on that ridiculously hot day, she stopped thinking of me as a kid and more like a young woman.
Anyway, I hope everyone who has a mother, or is a mother, had a nice day today. I made sure to send an e-card to my stepmother (the nice one who gave me the necklace, not the evil one who damn near wrecked my life). She just turned eighty-five. Her body may be falling apart somewhat, but her mind is still sharp as a tack. When I sent her a birthday greeting and she wrote to thank me, her comment was, “You know, I feel old, but 85?? No fucking way!” 😀
I hope I have her for at least a little while longer.