“WEEEEEEEEEE! You’ll be just like that little pig on the commercial!”
As effective – and persistent — a saleswoman as my mother is, I’m an even more recalcitrant buyer. For weeks she’s pulled out all the stops in her attempt to convince me to go zip-lining in Jamaica with her. Lord knows the thought of flying across the island on a string high in the sky next to my 75 year-old mother is a virus I’ve tried very hard to block from my inbox. Her constant nudging continually frustrates my mental delete key’s efforts.
“Come on – pull that stick out from up your butt and give it a shot! Weeeee! Weeeee! Weeeeeeeeee! What’s the worst thing that could happen?”
“Gee, Mom, I don’t know. I could maybe – die!” Just eight years ago, I conquered my fear of flying so my daughters could take me to Paris to celebrate my birthday. Of course, I accomplished this only after my therapist pointed out that — whether I was seated at my desk or 40,000 feet above it – I would only die if it was my turn to go. My younger daughter insured my unconscious cooperation with a Mimosa, two Bloody Marys and who-the-hell-knows-how-many vodka tonics before and during the flight. One minute I was boarding a jet at LAX; the next, I was being poured onto the tarmac at De Gaulle. And now my mother wanted me to fly – unsedated — without an airliner, a trained pilot and several hundred screaming passengers plunging to their deaths with me? Uh … no, thank you.
“You know what your problem is? You’re so busy focusing on what could go wrong that there’s no room for what could go right. Yes, you could die. But what do you care? You’ll be dead as soon as you hit the ground – you won’t even know you hit it. But people do this every single day and nothing happens — except that they have a good time. Why not just focus on how much fun you could have? Weeeee! Weeeee! Weeeeeeeeee!”
Suddenly, the smile disappeared and her eyes narrowed. Oh God, it was on its way – another Mother Moment. I steeled myself and prepared as the skies darkened, a lightning bolt raced across the sky and James Earl Jones’ voice thundered from deep within my mother’s chest.
“You know, that’s why your ass is still single. A man asks you to dinner and instead of just going out, having a good time and seeing what – if anything – comes of it, you pick him apart. You put him under a microscope like a little bug, analyze everything that could possibly go wrong, then you squish him. Not all men are like that good-for-nothing jackass you divorced. There are some good ones out there. Give them a chance. “
Ouch! That stung a little, but it was mercifully short. She paused; an only slightly exasperated sigh escaped. Is she really? Could she actually be – finished?
No such luck. Darth Vader launched round two.
“Look at Jack. ‘No, I don’t want to get too serious. His wife left him for a reason and men don’t change. I don’t want him to do the same thing to me.’ Shit! You don’t know what happened between that man and that woman. And you don’t know that whatever it was will happen with you. Instead of worrying and wringing your hands over it, just give him a chance. If you’re not happy, fine – end it. You tried. But until you open Door #3, you don’t know what’s behind it. You could be very happy with that man. ‘Next thing you know he could have your nose open, toes curling and eyes rolling back in your head. Weeeeeeeeee!”
Mr Jones Mom had a good point. It’s not likely you’ll enjoy dancing in the rain if you fear you’ll get soaked, catch pneumonia and die. It’s not likely you’ll enjoy the view from the top of the mountain if you’re convinced you’ll stumble over the edge and be crushed on the rocks below. It’s not likely you’ll enjoy the beauty of the forest if you fear ax murderers — eager to butcher you — behind every tree. Yes, she was right, but I’d be damned if I’d ever admit it to her.
“Girl, you need to loosen up. Maybe while we’re on the island — dancing, drinking and doing whatever else we decide to do — you should grab you some of those dreadlocks with a nice butt under ’em and get you some. You know, get your groove back – so you can remember what you’ve been missing.”
“Don’t forget to pack some nice underwear.”