Two weeks ago, I was doing some really serious thinking. It went something like this:
“What should I waste my money on that I don’t really need at all, but might use someday, but probably won’t ever have a need for in my life? Other than a 1980s prom dress?”
And of course the answer was a very obvious “gas mask.”
So I logged on to ebay and had the extraordinary luck of being the highest (and only) bidder on a glorious gas mask that was made in Canada. (The description mentioned this at least seven times, so I figured this must be very important. Plus, my friend Francesco is Canadian and he’s cool, so that made me feel secure in my choice of all the various gas masks trying to tempt me with their apocalyptic swagger).
After I paid for it, I received a receipt saying that, hooray, it had been shipped to my mother’s house. My current ebay account is listed under her stupid address because my old account is on the black list since I owe $7 in fees and have tried to pay it but I guess my money isn’t good enough for them and they expect me to send along a vial of my blood and some teeth too. Usually, I remember to change the shipping address upon winning all the shiny pieces of junk I choose to add to my garbage dump. I texted my mom: a gas mask will be arriving at ur house sometime next week. dont be alarmed – its mine.
She called me last Monday and said that it had arrived, and that she would bring it over the next day. Because I’ve known my mother for twenty-nine years now, I knew that meant, “I will bring it over when nothing good is happening on BlogTV. So maybe sometime next week. Or you should probably just come get it yourself. Unless you have something at your house that I might be interested in, then I’ll come over. No, something other than Chooch.”
And then something happened: we had our billionth fight, via text, about the fucking election. I half-expected a clown to arrive at my front door, with a cookie bouquet and balloons in primary colors, to commemorate the ocassion. But instead, I only walked away with the knowledge that my mother is a racist and has no respect for me as a person. The latter I already knew, so I was a little let down by my souvenirs.
My reply to her all-capital text of GET EDUCATED AND STOP BEING IGNORANT U VOTED 4 A TERRORIST, was a succinct, “Plz leave my package on ur front porch.”
Last night, Janna swung by my mother’s house and her way home from going out to dinner with us (she lives a few minutes from my mom’s house). She texted me immediately and said it wasn’t there. Naturally, I fumed up the house with my anger. Exactly the reaction she was anticipating, I’m sure. She lives to boil my blood. I flailed around the couch, spewing out swear words soaked in spit, and babbled about revenge and justice.
Considering my options, I asked my brother to please tell her to put it on the porch. Then, for added motivation, I tried to get Henry to call her from his phone, but he tried to lie and say he doesn’t have her number, when I know he does, because he didn’t want to get involved. But when he found out Christina had been nominated to call, he suddenly found my mom’s number in his phone. (I deleted her after the horrible things she said to me last week, and I never knew her current number by heart anyway.Nothing makes me feel warmer than a good old fashioned contact deletion.)
So Christina reluctantly called and left this wishy-washy voice mail saying that we were on our way to get it and she’s sorry to bother her, but could my mother please put the box on her porch? I was so disgusted at how polite and suck-uppy Christina was in her message, but she sputtered, “I don’t want to get involved! I’m certainly not going to make any demands!”
Christina suggested I wait until today, calm down some. But I was peeling out of the driveway at 10:30. The fifteen minute drive was accented with the smooth sounds of soft rock and me punching the steering wheel and yelling FUCK without warning.
When we pulled up the drive, it went like this: Christina gets out and paces the length of the porch several times, using the glow from her cell phone as a gas mask beacon. I quickly see where this is going and throw my car in park. I barge right in through the side door, stomp through the laundry room, push her yapping dogs out of the way, and find her stewing in front of the computer, MySpace reflecting off her face.
“Who is it?” she called out nicely. Then she saw it was me and curtly continued, “Oh. What do you want?”
“I want my package,” I huffed cooly.
“Oh, it’s in the garage. The door’s open, you can get it from the outside,” she answered in clipped tones.
FUCK YOU. I’m so fucking tired of her lame ass psychological games. In the garage? Really? You couldn’t have just put it on the front porch, you psycho head case? I slammed the door on my way out, walked over to the garage, pulled out the box from the small opening she left for me, and chipped a motherfucking nail in the process.
Christina met me back at the car and said, “Oh thank God, you got it. I was knocking on the front door and ringing the doorbell but she wouldn’t answer. I was afraid she was going to call the cops on me.”
And that would be textbook Val, to do so. I mean, she once called the police on her OWN DAUGHTER.
And gas mask? That is the story of how you and I came to be together. I admit, you aren’t really a national treasure, or even an object that I kind of, slightly, a little bit covet. However, gas mask, you had inadvertently become a pawn in my mother’s sickly stubborn world and the longer she held you hostage, the longer she kept me tied to her crappy life.
But gas mask, now you are safe in my home. You belong to me, and may we have many picnics together underneath a sky filled with ash.