I was thrilled to learn from Sarah Palin that in the proposed national health care plan, old folks will be put to death. I immediately called my mother.
“If you continue to give me guff, old woman, I won’t let you hide in my basement when the health police come looking for you,” I said with pure delight.
“Oh, you don’t even have a basement,” she said.
“Yes, but I do have a crawl space, and you won’t be welcome there, either,” I proclaimed.
“Let’s talk about something important: your hair. It’s a mess. When are you going to get it cut?” she asked.
That’s the problem with trying to have a meaningful discussion with my mother: She changes the subject whenever she doesn’t like what I’m saying.
And, yes, it’s difficult to hear that President Obama wants you dead, but we all must face hard, cold facts occasionally.
The reason I bring this up is that I’ve come under attack recently (me under attack—can you imagine?) for neglecting to tell my parents that I’m, uhh…that I’m, err…[stage whisper] gay.
It has been brought to my attention that I’ve had 20 years to have this chat, and that I’m the biggest freaking coward in the world for not doing so.
But I’ve tried. Really, I have. Once, a few years ago, when my mother was in a coma for a few days, I did tell her. However, certain people have assured me that this does not count.
Every time I try to raise the issue, my mother changes the subject, usually to a topic designed to irritate the hell out of me, and, thus, engage me in a debate over something asinine—like why I refuse to wear cashmere.
“Because it scratches, mother.”
“Oh, it does not. You’re ridiculous. Put on this sweater. When I think of all the children in Africa who would be thrilled to get a cashmere sweater from their mother….”
“In Africa. Really, mother? Have you ever heard of equatorial heat?”
“Listen, big shot, if it’s too hot to wear cashmere in Africa, then why do they breed cashmere goats in India?”
See, what I mean? How do you stay on topic with that type of circular logic?
OK. OK. I’m a coward. Truth be told, I can’t see any benefit in having the talk. My parents know. How could they not?
I lived with a woman for almost a decade. And, yeah, we weren’t having sex for most of that decade (ahh, lesbians), but they didn’t know that.
Now, I have a new lady friend. I’ve brought her to family functions, and my parents ask about her whenever I phone. They give her hugs and kisses. They know.
So, why do I have to tell them? Because, my lady friend says, they want me to tell them. But I don’t think they do. We talk around things in my family, because it’s more fun that way. And it also allows us to avoid subjects that we think may cause each other pain.
Several years ago, my mother and I were driving somewhere, merrily insulting each other, and chatting about nonsense. Suddenly, apropos of nothing, my Mom said that a woman she knew had cut off her daughter when she discovered she was gay.
“Can you imagine?” she asked. “Who would do such a thing?”
We both were staring out the front window, deliberately avoiding eye contact for the first time since we began the drive. I felt a lump form in my throat, and didn’t comment.
But what I wanted to say was, “You, Mom. You’d never do such a thing.”