Just before Velvet left his father's apartment - or more accurately, his grandmother Vagina Dentata's apartment where his father has been living since he stomped down Central Park West nearly three years ago - Velvet called to wish me happy birthday. It was a strained conversation because we've been on the outs since I sent Velvet to his father Wednesday night.
He was contrite. I was still hurt and disappointed. There was palpable distance and longing. Then he got on the subway and barfed. I was gratified because I believe it shows my son is a sensitive soul. There might be more picturesque ways of showing his sensitivity than hurling, but there's something oddly masculine about a young man who is so sensitive he barfs. No doubt he was also a bit nervous about the prom that night which may have also made him hurl.
Once he cleaned himself up from the morning's excitement, he stood in his boxers in front of the full length mirror and proceeded to admire his "crazy ripped" abdomen. He raised one arm and twisted, asking me if he looked like one of those Greek statues. He does, of course, because one of his electives at school is working out with a personal trainer four times per week. Once he returned from getting his hair cut, his self admiration reached heights that can only be equaled in Broadway show tunes. The one that sprang immediately to mind was Peter Pan's song, I've Got to Crow:
Getting him ready for the prom that evening, I noticed that his vest needed to be tightened in the waist. I turned it inside out to discover that the vest cinched in the very same way as his little blue jeans when he was four years old - elastic lined with button holes so that you can secure the elastic at the correct length with a button.
It was all very charming. Buzz Kill even brought me flowers for my birthday.
At 2:38 this morning, everything fell to shit. The specific events are, in reality, typical teenage BS and, also in reality, probably no big deal. What they represent, however, is an ongoing trend in the superfluous nature of mothers at this time of life. A man needs a maid, of course. A cook too.
Recently, someone pointed out to me that women always think men are wrong no matter what - like that T-Shirt that reads:
This adage wouldn't be on a Tshirt if there weren't validity to the observation, but I have to wonder how many ways a man can negate a woman's thoughts and feelings so she is rendered irrelevant until some menial task needs to be performed - or of course, he needs an audience to applaud his singular excellence.
And I also have to wonder just how much of this behavior Velvet absorbed watching his father and me. The nature of our entire marriage is illustrated for me by the towel rack in our bathroom. For a couple of years, Buzz Kill got out of the shower every day and took up all the space on the towel bar so that his towel would dry completely. It made sense, of course, because no one likes a musty towel. The trouble is that he never noticed that there was no room for my towel in the bathroom anywhere. Sometimes I folded his in half so that mine could go next to it, also folded in half. Sometimes I hung mine on a door knob. Day in and day out, Buzz Kill never even noticed there was nowhere for my towel. He got out of the shower every morning and took up the entire rack as usual. After a year or so, I decided it was time to mention this oversight, but not before I had collapsed in sobs in the bathroom floor.
It was easy enough to install another towel bar. Some would say it was very silly of me. Entirely too sensitive. But when someone is your partner and is supposed to consider your needs, and that person takes up all the space for himself for years without even noticing - to me that says he's a butt head.
An item was introduced in the movie version of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy that was never in the books - but it was a good idea developed by Deep Thought for an intergalactic consortium of Angry Housewives, The Point of View Gun. Here's Trillian about to shoot Zaphod.
One hit and the other person suddenly understands your point of view. As I was facing a testosterone driven 18 year old Aries who thought he deserved a medal for taking his dirty dishes to the kitchen, I wished I had a Point of View gun because there is no breaking through that level of adolescent conviction.
I had been pissed off that he called me, drunk, at 2:38 to say he'd be staying with some kids in a hotel room in midtown. I would have let that go, though, since it was prom night and Cupcake likes him and all that. What got me was his righteous indignation that I was irrational enough to suggest that if he were old enough to get drunk and spend the night in a hotel room with a date, he was certainly old enough to earn his own spending money. I would, naturally, continue to give him lunch money - and I would pay him to do any work around the apartment I would hire someone else to do, such as paint the bathroom. I'd even pay him union scale - but there would be work involved. According to Velvet, there is no justification for such a reaction. My son is a man, and I am a crazy female all on my 50th birthday.
When my mother hears the edited version of this tale, I predict she responds with one of her favorite explanations of why life is the way it is: Eve ate the apple, honey.
Years ago, a friend sent me this poem.
BUTT PRINTS IN THE SAND
One night I had a wondrous dream,
One set of footprints there was seen,
The footprints of my precious Lord,
But mine were not along the shore.
But then some stranger prints appeared,
And I asked the Lord, "What have we here?"
Those prints are large and round and neat,
"But Lord, they are too big for feet."
"My child," He said in somber tones,
"For miles I carried you alone.
I challenged you to walk in faith,
But you refused and made me wait.
You disobeyed, you would not grow,
The walk of faith, you would not know,
So I got tired, I got fed up,
And there I dropped you on your butt.
Because in life, there comes a time,
When one must fight, and one must climb,
When one must rise and take a stand,
Or leave their butt prints in the sand."
I am taking a stand. I'm still not exactly sure what form this stand is taking - but I'm taking it all the same. I feel so confused and alone that I'm ready to chuck it all and move home to Texas on the 4th of July - except that's impulsive, foolhardy and probably an ultimately destructive course of action.
Meanwhile, I've been calming myself by doing arm curls with my great granddaddy's 1912 Remington. Buzz Kill had the nerve to say I better put that gun in my closet because he's not convinced it's totally busted with no ammunition anyway and that people in my family are crazy.