Ten minutes after dinner ended, Momma and I were alone cleaning up. I figured she’d arranged it. I also figured I was in for the infamous ‘what for’ – I just didn’t yet know ‘why’.
I washed, she dried. Silently we finished glasses and utensils. We loaded the dishes into the sink and started working, the only sound being the clink of porcelain on porcelain.
When she finally spoke, it surprised me so much that I almost dropped the saucer I was washing.
“What were you looking for?” Momma asked quietly.
“Not really sure. I know that sounds silly. The guys and I will have it all back together by Friday. We can paint the week after. What about eggshell for the front room?”
“No, we always use cream. Now, stop trying to change the subject, Jackie Boy, and give me a real answer.”
I’ve told my share of whoppers – what kid hasn’t? – but it had been a long time since I’d deliberately lied to Momma. Telling lies when you have eight brothers and sisters is like bailing with a sieve – it accomplishes nothing and the boat still sinks. There’s no such thing as a secret in a four bedroom apartment with eleven people – not counting random relatives and friends sleeping over. Someone will find out and tell someone else. Eventually, it gets back to your parents and one of them takes it out of your backside. First for what you did and then a second time for having lied, the result being the loss of the ability to sit down to supper and you end up doing or not doing whatever the lie was about in the first place. It’s just easier – and a lot less painful – to go ahead and tell the truth.
Usually. I wasn’t about to tell my Momma that her eldest had taken up vampire hunting as a hobby. If she believed me the heart attack would kill her; if not, she’d laugh herself into a come. I was not going to be responsible for either one.
So I did what any self respecting coward would do – I punted. “I really don’t know for sure, Momma. I felt like something should be there but we didn’t find anything.”
So far so good – all of that was true.
I was sunk. “I dunno.” The words were already out of my mouth. Great, I thought to myself, I just lied to Momma. Worse, I just told the most ridiculously stupid lie of all. Of course I know – I just can’t say it!
Momma stopped and turned to me. She stared at me for a moment then went back to drying the dish. “I’d always hoped you’d come to me – that you knew you could come to me – when the time came and you needed to.”
Given a choice, I’d have gone and gotten her a switch and let her tear me up twice; it wouldn’t have hurt half as bad as the disappointment in her voice.
“Momma, I… I don’t know what you want me to say….” In my head, I was yelling at the idiot controlling my tongue. “Great going, now you’ve just lied to her again! That’s really gonna help, you idiot!”
“We all get old, Son.” She commented. I thought for a second she was changing the subject but then she said, “Did I ever tell you how we came to buy this place?”
I stopped my idiot self from telling her she’d only told that story ten times this week. Sarcasm would definitely not help. “A few times.” I managed to admit.