The Conversation

8:23 AM Saturday

(the phone rings)

LK: Hello Mother

Mother: Well, three cheers for caller ID!

LK: Nope, I knew it was you.

Mother: How?

LK: The phone started weeping.

Mother: Oh my, my! Now, that’s cute AND funny. Score one for my youngest daughter.

LK: How are you?

Mother: Concerned.

LK: About what?

Mother: You, mostly.

LK: And to what do I owe this maternal display?

Mother: You’ve got a birthday coming up soon and I’m a little worried about your current situation.

LK: Mother, I’m fine. You have nothing to worry about.

Mother: But you’re not working!

LK: Yes I am. I’ve got about three separate and very steady free lance writing gigs!

Mother: Those aren’t real jobs.

LK: Mother, they are real jobs and they pay me well. Your problem is that you don’t understand the concept of freelance. Just because you don’t understand what I do, does not negate the legitimacy of what I do.

Mother: You work from home; you have no interaction with co-workers, no benefits and I know for a fact there are time when you work wearing a T-shirt with no bra and shorts.

LK: That’s on a good day!

Mother: That shows you have no self-respect.

LK: But I’M WORKING IN THE PRIVACY OF MY OWN HOME!!!!!!!!!

Mother: That doesn’t matter. You should live graciously. I bet you eat straight off the stove.

LK When I cook, yeah..I do, sometimes.

Mother: Barbaric. And I bet when you order out or have something delivered you probably eat on your bed or on the sofa in front of the TV?

LK: Yep.

Mother: Well, I don’t. I prepare myself three square meals a day and when I eat, I sit down at the dining room table and I use my good china and a linen place mat and napkin. After I walked out on that sperm donor I call your father….

LK: He left you.

Mother: That’s just a rumor. Anyway, when I left him, I made a vow that single life wouldn’t prevent me from living a good life. You should do the same.

LK: Our lives are completely different, Mother.

Mother: Yes–in that I have one and you don’t!

LK: Funny, but I see that in reverse. At least I’m trying to do something with my life.

Mother: I resent that.

LK: And I resent that you’re implying that I’m miserable.

Mother: But you are.

LK: No I’m not! I don’t even know where you’re getting this. I’m perfectly happy. I just don’t live conventionally–but that’s according to you….

Mother: And that’s what concerns me. You’re going to be ____ years old. And you’re not married….

LK: Mother, do not finish that sentence….

Mother: Yes I will. I WILL finish this sentence and many others before we end this conversation. You have to face certain realities, Laurie. Thirty years ago you’d either be considered a closeted lesbian or an old maid. Both if you lived in New York. And let’s be brutally honest here: you’re not as young as you used to be. In fact, the odds are stacked against you. As it is, you stand a better chance of being strangled by red-headed Lithuanian terrorists at a Latvian tampon factory than finding a suitable mate to marry.

LK: That sounds oddly specific.

Mother: Well, it’s true. And I’m getting older too and I’d like to exit this earthly plane knowing you’re fine and will be in good hands after I’m gone.

LK: I am fine, Mother. What will it take to convince you of this?

Mother: Then get a job. A real job with an office and a security badge and benefits.

LK: Again, I’m fine. I don’t want to work in a corporate environment any more. The thought of doing a nine-five gig in some nondescript floor of some nondescript hi-rise downtown makes me ill. And I’m making money.

Mother: But it can’t be that much. And what progress are you making?

LK: Progress? I’m making great progress. Important people are seeing a different side of me. I’m making headway in the area of writing. I’m getting published. That’s what I want to do with my life. I want to be a writer, Mother.

Mother: But that’s not a real profession!

LK: What in the hell are you talking about? You read books all the time and magazines, tpo. You watch sitcoms and TV news…the content of each of those books…the magazines and those shows you love so much are ALL the handiwork of writers, Mother.

Mother: But you see, not one of them is my daughter.

LK: So?

Mother: So, I don’t worry about them. Make me feel better by supplementing your income with a job.

LK: I should make you feel better? That’s what I live for Mom. And if I were to do that…for you…what kind of job would you recommend?

Mother: Any old job.

LK: You, of all people, are telling me to get any old job? Then, would a fast food gig be good enough? You wouldn’t care if I worked at a McDonald’s?

Mother: Just as long as you were the manager.

LK: That’s just so typical. I’d have to be the manager, wouldn’t I? I couldn’t just be a shift worker. God forbid! How would that look to your friends. How could you justify being the Mother of a fast food worker?

Mother: We’re not talking about me.

LK: Aren’t we? You’re actually quite proud of me and who I am. You know it’s true. You loved it when I was on TV and radio. You also love that I’m a writer. That sounds great when you convey that to your friends. But somehow all of that gets lost when it comes to telling me anything to me face. You can’t tell me you’re proud of me. You couldn’t if you tried. You have to let me know that you don’t think I’m quite good enough.

Mother: It’s called humility, Laurie. Something I’ve always stressed with you.

LK: No, it’s called control and it’s all you’ve got left. My sisters and I are three adult women that you can no longer manipulate. So, you’re relegated to ego-punches. That’s all you’ve got left in your arsenal.

Mother: We’re not talking about me and quit trying to blame your inadequacies on everyone else. You’re accountable for your own happiness.

LK: And that would be accurate if I were unhappy. I’m not but you can’t seem to get that through your head. Who are you trying to convince of of my miserable state…me or you?

Mother: I have nothing to do with this. I’m merely holding up a mirror of truth to your face.

LK: We’ve always had different versions of “the truth”, Mother.

Mother: Yes, in that I’ve always known it and you haven’t.

LK: If I’m good at denial Mother, I learned it from you.

Mother: That is such a lie!! I have NEVER denied anything in my life. I just choose to ignore certain things. That makes life easier. Like when I divorced that cheating bastard I call your father….

LK: He divorced you.

Mother: No, I divorced him. The court got it wrong.

LK: Why do you talk about him like that to me?

Mother: I speak the truth.

LK: But he’s still my father. You diminish me as a person by saying those things about him.

Mother: No I don’t and that’s that psycho nonsense from that crazy old Dr. Bill…

LK: Dr. Phil

Mother: Whatever and don’t you defend your father, either. Have you forgotten that he walked on you when he walked on me?

LK: You make me crazy, Mother!!

Mother: And you make me tired.

LK: OK, enough about Daddy.

Mother: I should say so.

LK: I’ll play this game by your rules Mother, alright? This ‘mirror of truth’ you spoke of a minute ago….is it supposed to convince me that I need to work at a job, any old job Even a lowly counter worker at a fast food joint?

Mother: You’re far too smart and educated to be a lowly order taker.

LK: Exactly. And how would that work out for me, Mom? You know how pretentious I am! I can see it now–me in my uniform, paper hat on my head and there I am at the counter asking some in-bred, mono-browed, cro mag if he wants pomme fritte with his Happy Meal.

Mother: Point taken, but I think you should try to get a job. You need the interaction. I know what’s right for you. I always have and you never have.

LK: You don’t know me at all, do you?

Mother: I know you perfectly well. And you’re a…..

LK: No, you don’t know me. You’ve never known me. I want to write…I need to write. If you knew me you’d know my need to explore the many facets of my creative side. But you don’t know that, nor do you have that passion, so it’s impossible for me it to explain it you.

Mother: Now you wait one minute, Missy. I ‘m creative. I decorated a six bedroom home.

LK: That’s not the same thing. Besides, if you really knew me, you’d know how much you hurt me with the things you say to me. You’d know how much conversations like this take a chunk out of my soul.

Mother: I tell you these things for you’re on good. And one more thing, you’re insolence hurts me.

LK: My insolence?

Mother: You’re insolence. And you’re ungrateful.

LK: Why couldn’t I have been an orphan?

Mother: I can arrange it.

LK: ENOUGH!!! Stop it….Now!

For a few seconds, we say nothing, caught up in the deafening silence of recoil.

LK: Look Mother, I don’t want to fight.

Mother: Who’s fighting?

LK: We are.

Mother: I don’t see it as fighting. I’m just trying to give you motherly advice.

LK: And we’ll have a huge fight if you continue advising me, alright? My life is different from yours. You’re lucky. Very lucky. You live a very comfortable life. You don’t have to work. You’ve never have had to work, but I do. I’m tired of broadcasting and as I continue to evolve, so do my hopes and dream and desires. And right now, I want and need to try my hand at something different.

Mother: But it’s awfully late in the game for a single woman to be trying “something different”. Is that a gamble a woman like you should to take?

LK: What do you mean by “a woman like me”?

Mother: Well, you’re not getting any younger, either and frankly, you’re losing your looks.

LK: What?

Mother: You need to be self-sufficient, but at what price? There’s no honor in being 60 and single. And in your case, you’ve never married. You need to be married. You need to get your life in order.

LK: For one thing, marriage will not get my life in order. You should know. You’re divorced.

Mother: We’re not talking about me.

LK: This is exasperating, Mother! You are exasperating! My life is fine. My life is—–(I don’t complete the sentence. I’m getting very angry, something that happens a lot when I talk to my mother. But I try a different tack this time. I take a deep breath and sigh. In doing so, I allow myself to regain composure) OK, if you want me to be self-sufficient and you think my trying to be a writer at this stage of my life is silly then you could eliminate that pesky working part and just give me my inheritance now.

Mother: (silence)

(Sound of “Call Waiting” clicking on my line)

LK: Well, Mother, someone is calling in..

Mother: And I’m still mulling over that orphan crack. You really need to think long and hard about what you said. You should apologize with some flowers. You know I’m getting up there and won’t be around much longer.

LK: Can I get that on paper?

Mother. That can be arranged.

LK: I have to go, Mother.

Mother: Have you talked to you sisters lately? What was that story you were writing for that magazine?

(She won’t hang up. What to do? What to do? “Call Waiting” clicks again)

LK: Mother I have to go (I think fast) It’s uh…it’s…it’s Daddy calling.

Mother: Good lord, what does he want!!! Then I definitely want off the line. Besides, I need to go to my lawyer’s officer.

LK: For what.

Mother: After this conversation, I’m amending my will.

LK: You do that, Mom. And later on, I’ll be calling Information to get a phone number.

Mother: Whose?

LK: Dr. Kervorkian’s

Mother: Oh, I have his number it if you want it. Your incredibly turbulent Senior year in High School forced me to keep it handy at all times.

LK: Now that’s funny.

Mother: Give that worthless son of a bitch I call your father, my deepest indifference.

LK: Already done. Goodbye mother.

Mother: Think about what I said, Laurie. I mean it. Listen to me. Remember, I’m your mother.

As if I could ever forget THAT detail.

I hang up and once the line is clear, the phone rings immediately. It’s not my father. We haven’t spoken in years. I don’t recognize the number calling in, but it doesn’t matter. It mercifully got me off the phone with my mother.

LK: Hello?

Phone Solicitor: Hello, Miss Kendrick? I’m assuming it’s Miss Kendrick based on the fact that I have no information indicating you are married or…..

I say nothing and just hang up on the guy in mid-sentence. That was the last thing I needed to hear.

I sit there for a few minutes; a million thoughts swirl in my head.

I then pick up the phone and start dialing a number I know so very, very well.

First ring….

Second ring…

LK: Hi, Dr. Brandson? Laurie Kendrick here. Could you possibly squeeze me in for an emergency session this afternoon? Yeah, I’m really feeling the need to talk.

Why?

My mother called me.

17 comments

  1. Looks like you have great material for Broadway. Write it up. If that hag Kathy Griffin can get her own show…

  2. “Youโ€™ve never known me”

    Not being known is one of the most defeating feelings in life.

  3. Why is it that perfectly functioning adults with a half century of experience simply can not deal with their parents? And why is it that parents simply can not deal with grown children who have managed to prove themselves capable of remaining out of jail or institutions?

    I had a long talk with my sister last month, who confessed that she was able to get along with Mom and Dad only by moving 1,000 miles away.

    My own folks wonder why I dont’ call or visit more often, but I see them pulling the same stuff on their grandchildren as they did on me. Nicer, more mellowed, but still…

  4. LK: You had me at “strangled by Lithuanian terrorists at a Latvian tampon factory.”

    ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. The truth is so funny, but, so sad at times. I’m mother and I try real hard to let go of my sons and I don’t try to tell them anything anymore. But, if you’ll will just pick up the phone and just give us parents a little bit to brag on, I think, you will be surprise at what will happen. We will stop bugging you. I’m I not right? You can even make up a grand story about how well life is treating you? Well, just a thought….

  6. I agree with Texas. This would make a GREAT one act play, with Ms. Waggs as the director!

    I can see you on stage right now.

    Now to answer his question, NO parents never stop being parents. Some parents just know when to keep their comments to themselves, I hope to learn to do that someday.

  7. :banghead: this totally sounds like a conversation I’d be having with my mother…lol

  8. I may be nuts, but I have a better relationship with my kids than my parents had/have with me largely because I don’t talk down to them, or give them the illusion that my life was mistake-free.

    My favorite line from Dances with Wolves: “No man can tell another man what to do.” It was the Lakota chief, talking to his braves; a position where, in fact, he could have told them what do.

    The main problem with parent/child relationships is the parent doesn’t respect the child, and the child wants the parent’s respect. As soon as the parent gives respect, or the child stops caring, the problem evaporates — and perhaps the relatinship, too, but better no relationship than a bad one.

  9. I have two grown up daughters and the eldest is forty six years young this year. All I can say is that although we have our arguments and they can be very fiery I am very proud of their enormous achievments [ one is a graphic designer, the other a freelance photographer] They have always done their own thing but still care about my opinions and input. Of course a mother will always be concerned about their children and when you come from another era it’s hard sometimes to keep your mouth shut. I suppose the secret is to speak up when you feel that it is really important.
    Anyway, I must have done something right because they always ask me along when they go clubbing. I don’t accept every time but still like to strut my stuff on occasion, if my feet are up to it

  10. I would love for you to get a job at McDonalds, if only to read all of the funny shit that would occur because of it.

  11. OMG, I also need a session after reading that, call it TWO parents who have no idea what I’m all about…and dude:

    “As it is, you stand a better chance of being strangled by red-headed Lithuanian terrorists at a Latvian tampon factory than finding a suitable mate to marry.

    LK: That sounds oddly specific”

    Hahahaha…. ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Yes, everyone, Laurie has a specific writing talent and yes all that she implied is true.

    Our upbringing was all appearances (ones that would draw envy and approval to the world) but actually really, we lived a very dysfunctional existence and it was complete devoid of any true maternal love. Now, I’m not saying that we don’t care about ou mother…we do, but she has always made it very hard to “love and honor” her.

    Kathy and I have had 8 children between us and will admit to our parental mistakes. We’ve made it our life’s goal to be the type of parent that our kids could and would love unconditionally, just as we love and respect them.

    It’s hard, especially when your kids are grown, to keep your mouth shut and to be there when they fall, but that’s what we should do. You raise your children so that they can one day live without you. In other words, like a good mother in law should do, wear beige, keep quiet and act like everything is wonderful!!!!!

  13. Made me chuckle. Proof positive that if you want them near you, you have to let the people you love make their own “mistakes”*.

    Cheers

    BC
    * I use this word advisedly!

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