For those of you who don’t know me yet, I’m a middle-aged guy – well preserved to be from the beginning of Generation X - but still I’m advancing in years. Actually, calling myself middle age is a bit hopeful since, if I’m presently at the mid-point in my life, then I will live to be 108. You do the math.
Anyway, you’d think that a guy in his 50s would be able to stand up to his mother on certain issues. Nope. I’m still a 9-year-old kid when it comes to my mom. Sure, she no longer plucks a hickory switch off the tree and wears me out with it when I misbehave but the fear is still there for some reason even though she is well into her 80s and I’m reasonably sure I can outrun her on her walker.
This fear/respect was never more evident than a trip a bunch of us took to Daytona Beach about three years ago. It was actually a buddy trip but I asked mom to go since she hadn’t been to Florida since Ponce de Leon was looking for the Fountain of Youth. I mean, come on, I’m a good son.
So, we all get to the Sunshine State and I, my two sons and my mom are in the same condo room while my friends have a neighboring room. As is my custom, since it is the beach, I pick myself up a six-pack of Land Shark beer. I’m not a big drinker and actually the purchase was more out of tradition than anything. I then placed the beer in a carry cooler and pushed it to the back of the fridge, concealing it behind our groceries for the week. Yes. I was a 50-year-old man at the time and I was hiding beer from my mom like I was a high schooler.
I had all but forgotten about my beer stash as me and the guys were walking along the beach later that day. That’s when I got the call. I answer and it’s my 17-year-old son Jack who is laughing hysterically on the other end of the line.
“You’re in trooouble,” he proudly proclaims as I can hear one of his buddies also laughing in the background.
“Huh?” I pause my walk.
“GRANNY FOUND YOUR BEER!” he cackles.
Okay, the macho man in me wanted to respond “I don’t care” but the son in me was thinking “oh sugar” but in my head I didn’t say the word “sugar.”
Almost out of reflex I responded. “I don’t suppose you took the blame, did you?” I asked.
I didn’t wait for a response as the laughter in my ear just crescendoed. “Thanks … son,” I said dryly as I hung up.
“What’s wrong?” one of my friends asked, noticing the color go out of my face.
“I think I’m going to be grounded,” I responded as I turned around and walked back toward the condo like a scolded puppy.
For those of you who have gotten in trouble at school and knew you were going to get it when you got home, this is how I felt all the way up the beach. My mama don’t drink no beer and she don’t want anyone else drinking it either.
I cringed a bit as I opened the door to the condo, expecting what was to come. However, instead of hearing my mom’s voice screeching about the evils of demon rum as the door shut behind me I heard something even worse – complete silence. “This can’t be good,” I muttered to myself as I stepped into the dimly lit room.
Then I saw her. She was sitting in the corner of the room, dimly lit by a bit of sunlight that was straying through the open blinds. The whole scene was reminiscent of a scene out of “The Godfather.”
“How long have you been an alcoholic?” she assumptively asked as I stood before her like a defendant before the judge.
“I’m not a …” I tried to explain.
“You have no idea how embarrassed I am for you,” she interrupted. “All these years I’ve tried to bring you up right and now you do this.”
“But mom, it’s just …” I stammered.
“First it’s a beer, then its two beers,” she ignored my protest. “Before you know it you’re smoking pot and sniffing glue.”
I involuntarily snickered at the “sniffing glue” comment. Wrong thing to do.
“You think this is funny?” she leaned forward in her chair.
“No ma’am,” I replied. “I didn’t mean to …”
“I can’t believe my son brought beer into this house,” she continued. “You ought to be ashamed. Your son saw that beer, you know.”
Although I was thinking I was happy he didn’t take the beer himself, being a teenager with friends in tow, I feared for my safety so I didn’t give her any back talk.
“I want you to get rid of it, right now,” she scolded.
“But, it’s just …” I began.
“NOW!” she insisted.
For a hot moment I almost stood my ground. That moment quickly passed. “Yes ma’am,” I dropped my head. “I’ll throw it down the chute.”
I never lie to mom, as far as she knows, so I did throw it down the chute but not the garbage chute. I polished off a six pack of Land Shark on the beach that night to the light of a full moon over Daytona Beach.
So, what lesson did I learn from all this? Don’t drink? Um, no. I learned never take your mom to Florida with you.