Mommy's alright, Daddy's alright, they just seem a little weird.
They’re all alcoholics, that older generation. I went up to Santa Barbara for the weekend, traveling from one beach to the next. My mother, like me, relishes her mornings, and I expected her to be awake fairly early, perhaps in the kitchen or outside on the patio, reading or singing her heart out to those old rock n’ roll songs she adores. She was in the kitchen when I entered. I heard the clinking of glass and she appeared from behind the refrigerator door, a beer bottle stuck to her lips the way a baby drinks milk from his bottle.
“Don’t judge me,” she said.
“Have I ever?”
I took a seat at the kitchen table. She sat before me and drank her beer.
“I don’t know where that boy is. He doesn’t talk to me anymore. Don’t turn into your brother, Charlie.” She put her reading glasses on and she looked older than ever at that moment. On the table in front of her she began grading a stack of essays. She took a sip of her beer and looked up at me over her readers. “This is why I drink.”
I smirked. “No, you drink because you’re an alcoholic.”
“No, no, no,” she shook her head, flipping through the stack of papers. “One day, when you have kids, you’ll understand.”
“Hey, your grandpa told me the same thing when I was a kid.” She took a swig. “And now I know what he was talking about.”
“Are we children that horrible?”
“Yes, yes you are,” she said, sarcastically.
“Seriously?” I chuckled.
“Seriously, my son,” she said. “It’s us parents who are horrible. We don’t know what we’re doing half the time. A drink once in a while just calms the anxieties.”
I got up and headed to the refrigerator for some food. “Get me another one, please, my son,” she called out.
“So you have no idea where Ben is? I thought a mother knows everything about her children, isn’t that what they say.”
“No, it’s ‘a mother knows best,’ and I’m assuming he’s at Marie’s.”
“He is a twenty-two year old man. He can do what he wants.”
“Not when he’s living in my house.” I took her the beer. “Good thing Marie’s a good girl. He’s not getting into any trouble.”
“Yeah, at least he’s not out philandering around town.”
“Hooking up with random women, professor.”
“Ah ok. Thank you.”
I sat down with some food, leftover rice and beans from the night before.
“So what do you want to do today? Wanna go to the pier?”
“I can’t. I have homework. I’ve got to finish a book.”
“Really?” She watched me mix my rice into my beans. “You really like school, huh?”
“Isn’t that what you wanted from me? Be happy I’m the good child doing my homework at home.” She laughed. “Don’t you have work or papers to grade?”
“Yeah, but I’ll just get one of the assistants to do it on Monday. I hate grading papers.”
“Then why did you become a teacher?”
“Professor,” she insisted.
“Sorry,” I rolled my eyes. “Why did you become a professor?”
“Because those who can’t do, teach. And I’m too lazy to do any other job.” She finished her second bottle.
“You are so inspiring. I can’t believe I want to be like you,” I said mockingly and pulled out my homework.
“I’m sure you’ll be a great professor, better than me I hope.” She pushed her papers aside. “But you’re not a professor yet. You’re not obligated to do any work. So I suggest you get rid of that book for the day and accompany me to the pier.”
“I’ve got lots of work to do.”
“But you’re not gonna get any of it done anyway.”
“I’ll try to.”
“But you won’t because I’m gonna be bothering you all day.”
“Fine,” I gave in.
“Good,” she said and stood up and walked to her room. “Don’t forget a jacket. It’s windy at the pier.”
“Ok, but I’m driving!”