In Boozo Veritas #41 by Teege Braune
How To Get My Mom To Gossip And Other Family Secrets
for Merla Belle
Mothers and sons have, at times, a tenuous relationship. I’m told that for mothers and daughters this is even truer. How many writers have said I can’t publish a word until my mother passes away? I think there are two reasons for this:
- Your mother is capable of punishing you long into adulthood. She may not spank your butt, force you to sit in the corner, or send you to bed without any supper, but then again, none of those things would mean much post adolescence. As long as a mother still has the ability to narrow her eyes and offer a disapproving comment she is capable of punishing her children.
- No family is without its demons, and no good story leaves out the parts that are embarrassing, difficult, or tragic.
Therein lies every writer’s two-headed dilemma: they don’t want to shame themselves in front of their moms and they don’t want to shame their moms in front of the rest of the world. In regards to the first conundrum, only one time did I ask my mom not to read something I wrote that was entering the public sphere. I refer specifically to In Boozo Veritas #3 Through the Looking Glass Darkly.
“If you don’t want me to read it, I sure won’t,” she said sweetly, for she is always sweet.
“You don’t think your curiosity will get the better of you?” I asked.
“No way. I have no interest in reading something that you don’t think I would like,” she answered.
If she later changed her mind, it never came up again, but I doubt she was so tempted. Since then I’ve written other essays that elude to my propensity for strong drink and occasional dabbling in other controlled substances. Once or twice I’ve thought, I should tell mom not to read this, but have refrained from doing so. How many times can I censor my own mother’s reading material before she simply begins to worry why I’m writing so many illicit essays? Do I really want to hide that much of myself from my mom anyway? I can’t help thinking of James Joyce’s bit of familial wisdom: “Whatever else is unsure in this stinking dunghill of a world a mother’s love is not,” and knowing that this certainly applies to my own mom. After all, while certainly not a lush, she has never been a teetotaler either. On my twenty-first birthday she bought me my first legal drink at The Old Spaghetti Factory in Louisville, and what’s more, the couple times I’ve seen her a little tipsy she was quite adorable. The first time occurred once when I was home on break from college. I had been sitting up watching TV in the living room when she stumbled in a few hours late.
“Where have you been?” I shouted. “I was worried about you.”
“What?! What time is it?” she asked giggling.
I noticed that her cheeks were flushed.
“Are you drunk?!” I asked.
“Well, you know me. I only have one glass of wine with dinner, but tonight Ty just insisted that I have two, and I figured, what the heck; I don’t have school tomorrow.”
Okay, so she’s a light weight, but this can be useful when dealing with someone who is loath to ever say a bad thing about anyone. One time while visiting Jenn and I in Orlando, my mom was hesitant to go into the details of an acquaintance’s relationship problems. She hinted at trouble, but refused to gossip, even to me, her own son who swore secrecy and cattily pleaded for the dirt. After much debate, I promised to drop the matter and offered to take her to dinner where I procured for us a nice bottle of pinot noir. Afterwards, I begged her to come with Jenn and me to Eola Wine Co.
“It’s getting late, and I should be getting home,” she insisted, but I told her how cute the bar was and promised that she would love it, so she relented. Exploiting her low tolerance for alcohol, I bought her another glass of wine at which point, the sordid affair was exposed.
So she gossips when she’s tipsy. Who doesn’t? That’s probably not the worst thing you could say about her, but if you did so in front of me, there’d be trouble, which brings us to the second part of the writer’s dilemma. My family, like any other, has had its low points, but here on this beautiful Mothers Day while my mom is a thousand miles away from me in Indiana, and I’m down here in Florida missing her terribly, I’ll shirk the drama and tragedy and settle for a little light embarrassment. My mom is one of the most wonderful people I know. If I am a halfway decent person, I’m sure I have her to blame for it. I love you, Mom.
Teege Braune (episode 72, episode 75, episode 77, episode 90) is a writer of literary fiction, horror, essays, and poetry. Recently he has discovered the joys of drinking responsibly. He may or may not be a werewolf.