Girls are supposed to learn certain stuff from their mothers. However, my mother had no girlfriends, really, and she didn’t do a lot of typical girl stuff. She was pretty controlling and demanding, sort of what you normally expect from the stereotypical American father.
There are a lot of blank spaces in my training manual.
Once, she did tell me that if she died I would have to do her make-up before the funeral, that no one else would know how she liked it. I was about nine at the time. I sometimes watched the paint sessions, while she sat at her vanity putting on various products. This is one of the few memories I have of her and I resembling a normal mother/daughter. And it’s not very normal.
She always wore lots of eyeliner and mascara, which would end up down on her cheeks after a night of drinking and carousing. She never washed her face before going to bed.
I never really learned to wear make-up. When I would put on powder or eye shadow, Mom would scream something about sluts. I’m not sure why it was okay for her, but not for me? In all honesty, I was definitely one of the slutty girls in high school.
When I was 16 going out with 23 year old Larry I would shoplift an outfit before every single date. He told me I didn’t look mature enough, our first night out. What a dick. Mom really liked him and thought he was cute. She let me leave my grandfather’s funeral early for one of those dates. So accommodating! That was the kind of thing Mom was helpful with: a lock on my bedroom door and a bag of homegrown pot in her underwear drawer.
I wanted to go to beauty school instead of attending college. She told me I couldn’t because I didn’t have the personality for dealing with people. Today I am pretty sure she said that because she wanted me to go to college and it was just something to say. But I believed her at the time, really thought it was true. My sister was the one with lots of friends and I usually had only a single girlfriend.
Mom told me that I was a really good potato-peeler and great at washing the kitchen floor. Those were my jobs. She gave out so few compliments that I actually believed her and reveled in potato peeling and floor washing.
But I never really learned to cook. She made the same 7 or 8 meals over and over again, and some of those came out of boxes.
I never learned to do hair. There is nothing worse for a woman than being hair-challenged.
When I had a car accident Mom was the first person I wanted at the scene. When I wrecked my bike and got gravel in my face, she took me to the emergency room and stood by as they scraped it out with a steel-wool pad.
When I was living with a heroin addict in San Francisco and we were living day to day in a rooming house, she came to CA and gave me $500 as down-payment for an apartment. My boyfriend stole $100 of her money from me.
She sends great boxes of gifts at Christmas, loads of stuff. Although a few years ago she included some used underpants she’d outgrown and a sweatshirt with a stain on it. Our local newspaper printed that under a story about “Tacky Gifts.”
You take what you can get.
We’re all doing our best, supposedly. It’s my husband’s theory that you must assume that’s true, then add the caveat that most people are retarded.
Happiness is a choice, even when all the other chicks have great looking hair and flawless make-up. Fuck it!