We spent the day down at the Salem Soapbox Derby racetrack today. Mark and the girls did the racing. I did the wandering around with Jack the smaller badly behaved dog.
I did a lot of wandering.
It was very boring.
Although there was this . . . from a middle-aged (by which I mean about my age) woman with her cellphone to her ear . . . wandering in small circles just in front of where Jack and I were sitting at a picnic table.
“Who the hell is this?”
“Yes, I know I don’t know you. Who is this?”
“Don’t tell me to hold on. I’m calling my own house and who are you?”
“Are you there? Hello?
She glared at the phone, “Oh, tell me that fool did not just hang up on me,” and then she dialed again.
“Hello? Mena? Who just answered the phone?”
“Don’t tell me nobody like I’m going crazy . . . I just called there and a boy answered.”
“No, I did not dial a wrong number. Mena? If I find out you’ve got a boy at the house, you are in some deep shit. You are supposed to be home by yourself.”
“Oh lord, let me just catch my breath before I explain to you again about how you are grounded. Grounded means you don’t leave the house and don’t nobody come over to visit you.”
“Mena, yes you do.”
“Yes, you do.”
“Mena, grounded means no one goes out and no one comes in. Don’t act the fool with me. Mena, I am so angry right now I can’t even see straight. You know what grounded means.”
“I’m not going to discuss the fairness of the grounding. You are 16 years old and you know what you did was wrong. We been there done that . . . you just tell me who that was on the phone when I called not two minutes ago.
“Yeah, that’s what I thought. OK, you tell Raymond to get his ass up out of my house.”
“Mena, you tell Raymond to get the hell out of my house. Turn and tell him right now. I know he’s there listening. Mena, you are so grounded.”
“No, this is like grounding at a whole new underground level.”
“Baby, I don’t even know what I mean myself, but you better be happy I am standing here instead of there or I’d be kicking your ass right this moment. Raymond’s ass too. In fact, put his ass back on the phone.”
“Yes, I want to talk to Raymond.”
“He better be scared of me. Put him on the phone.”
She stared incredulously at the phone and then dialed again, apparently getting voicemail, because she said, “This is your mother, Mena. You call me back right this damn minute or get fixed up pretty to be on the news talking about how your mother went insane and burned a big old bonfire in the front yard of your every possession in this world.”
Silence for a moment as she stared at her phone and lit a cigarette, and then she answered the phone, “Why, hello Mena.”
“Yes, please do explain how this is all Raymond’s fault. I would be quite interested to hear how this is all his fault.”
“Raymond does not control you, Mena. You are 16 years old and it’s about time you owned your actions.”
“Raymond can’t make you do anything.”
“OK, Mena? I am going to take a deep breath and wait for you to finish that sentence.”
“Don’t you dare tell me you ain’t got nothing to add.”
“Mena, say it again. Say it again and you better damn well add a where.”
“It’s not that complicated, Mena. Add a location so your mother can breathe again.”
“Yes. So say those words again, and tell me where.”
“Your mother is going to have a heart-attack right here in the park, Mena. You want those to be your last words to me? Nothing about Raymond making you go anywhere in particular, just Raymond makes me come . . . that’s what you said? Mena, I am going to kill you. I’m going to kill you and then I am going to kill Raymond and then I’m going to get fixed up pretty to be on the news.”
“Yes, I will go on the news and tell them I helped you come . . . to Jesus.”
“See how I added a location, Mena?”
“Yes, if I just went on the news talking about how I up and killed my daughter and her loser boyfriend so that they could come, I’d sound like some sort of crazy psycho sex-fiend murderer, but if I say I helped them come to Jesus, well . . . everybody knows I got my heart in the right place.”
“Yes, think about that for a minute, Mena.”
“So Raymond made you come . . . home . . . after he saw you were on your way to a party?”
“I always did like that boy.”
“We’re going to have to talk about some things when I get home.”
“Mena, you better be there when I get home.”
She stuffed her phone in her pocket and turned to me, “Don’t ever have daughters.”
I smiled and pointed up the hill to where my daughters were prepping their race cars, “Too late.”
Bringing her cigarette to her lips, she inhaled deeply, “Well, I guess if I had one piece of advice for you, it would be . . .” but she let the sentence trail off in a cloud of exhaled smoke, “Hell, I don’t know. I don’t know how to advise you.”
I hesitated but then ventured, “Well, I do think I will make plans to keep them away from this Raymond fellow.”
She let loose a burst of harsh smoky laughter, “Damn right.”