The Jennifer Chronicles - Volume X
May 17, 2010Everyone says it's a small world and I applaud them for their sociological acumen. Let me explain. As I pulled into the parking lot at the office, I was cursing under my breath. Why? Because my cell phone had been going off every five minutes since I'd gotten on the road. Who the hell is calling me at eight o'clock in the morning? I don't appreciate my morning traffic snarl with annoying techno chimes. Memo to me: Change to Enya ringtone asap.
I ripped the phone out of my purse to find text messages, not voice mails. Lots of text messages... from Silvergirl. Silvergirl? I scanned the texts. They came with web links. I know they say never to click on a link if you don't know the sender. It was Monday. I was tired. I hadn't had my cup of hi-test yet. I clicked on the links to find social happenings in my adopted state: What's on Seattle, Singles in Seattle, Singles Connection in Seattle. Social happenings with romance potential. They weren't from Carrie. So, I thought, who the hell is Silvergirl? And then it hit me...Mom.
My mother is surfing the web? Since when does my mother own a computer? I'm away from New York for six months and everything goes postal. I punched in her number.
"Good morning Webmaster," I said when she answered. "Let me guess. Randall is the Silverfox?"
"Why didn't you text me back?" she asked without missing a beat. "Randall bought me a new phone with a qwerty keyboard."
My mouth dropped open. "Where is Helen Benjamin and what have you done with her?"
She laughed. "Joanie, Carrie and I have been talking and she's right. You need to meet a man."
I got a visual of Carrie lounging in my mother's kitchen, sitting in my chair, at the table, with my mother, discussing me. Joanie doesn't like this. Joanie isn't happy. Joanie is turning green. Not a good color for me.
"I'm sure I do and I will. How was the play? Did you and Carrie have a good time?" I forced myself to unclench my jaw. I wasn't very fond of Carrie right now.
"We had a lovely time. We walked to the theatre and took the subway back to Penn."
"The subway? You took the subway? You hate the subway."
"Carrie thought it would be fun. It was. I don't hate the subway. When did I say I hate the subway?"
Fun? Did my mother just say wandering the gritty streets of New York and standing around on a platform in an airless hole in the ground was fun?
"Every time we came home from the city you said you needed a shower... to boil away the grime, you said."
"I don't remember that."
I bit my lip. My mother was talking gibberish to me and she had a lilt in her voice. She never had a lilt. I could never identify a lilt before, but now I can. My mother was having more fun with Carrie than she did with me. Maybe she would rather have Carrie for a daughter instead of me. Stop thinking Joanie, I thought. It's not good for you.
My mother was going on about the play. "And that Nathan Lane. He's hilarious. When you come back for your next visit we'll all go together. You'll love it!"
"Great idea. I'm glad you had a good time, Mom."
"Joanie, what's the matter? Why are you talking funny? Are you eating something?"
Unclench, Joanie, I thought. Unclench. "Breakfast sandwich," I mumbled.
"Joanie, you should eat better-"
"Mom, for the record, Carrie and I also discussed my finding some friends to talk to - girlfriends." Carrie must have forgotten to repeat every syllable of our private conversation. It's official. I was in a foul mood. My mother didn't notice.
"Girlfriends? Don't worry about that. You'll meet his friends and they'll have girlfriends."
I clamped my eyes shut and counted to five.
"Okay, Mom. I have to go now," I rushed. I didn't want to hear what I knew was coming.
"I don't want you to be lonely Joanie."
Bingo. Immediately the words conjured a vision of genteel poverty and solitude, sitting alone on a park bench watching families frolic and play around me. Then there was the coup de gras: dying alone and no one finding me until little kids tell their parents about the awful smell coming from the crazy lady's apartment. Shit.
"I know Mommy, but I have to go to work now. I'll find a husband after work. Okay?"
"That's not cool Joanie."
EXCUSE ME? That was so Carrie. My mother was channeling Carrie. Was there a pod in the basement?
"Mom, how often does Carrie come to visit?"
"Once in a while, just to check on me," she said. "I get such a kick out of her. Last week-"
"I have to go Mom. I'll call you later," I said.
"Oh, all right. Remember to look at those links, and text me."
"Will do," I said, and hung up.
I sat in my car for a few minutes, fighting several unpleasant feelings, like I was being pushed to attend the school dance and I didn't want to go and my best friend was taking my place and making changes to my maternal unit. My mother. I had to fight the urge to call Carrie and yell irrationally to keep her mitts off my mother.
I can't deal with this now, I thought. I won't deal with this now. I took several deep breaths and got out of the car. I am a responsible adult reporting to work. I will concentrate on work and investigate the links when I get home.
And text my mother.
As I slammed the car door closed, a symphony of synthetic techno beeps came from inside my purse. Mom was sending another link.
There was no getting away from it. The gauntlet had been thrown down. The links would not stop coming. And there would be no peace until I made some selections. Things were changing at home and there was nothing I could do about it. I had to change too.
My phone began beeping again.
I would check out the links and text her during lunch.
As I settled at my desk, my last thought before getting down to work was Carrie was a true friend, looking after my mother. But that didn't make it any easier. And then I got a visual of Randall and my mother, the Silverfox and the Silvergirl, sitting in front of the computer, cruising the information superhighway. I wonder who controls the mouse.
Be sure to check back next week for another chapter of The Jennifer Chronicles!