Patron Saint of Letting Her Down Easy
Mom’s got a saint for everything: Anthony when she can’t find the milk frother, Francis when the dog shits on the carpet, Augustine when Dad goes in for his sixth tallboy. And she’s got a new one recently: St. Jude. His thing is lost causes. She talks to him about me.
Jude says he’s tired of being our middleman, but really I think he’s just tired of hearing me sing “Hey Jude” whenever his image arrives in a coffee stain. “Just tell her you lost weight,” he says over my shoulder in the bathroom mirror. “Tell her about the new gig. Tell her you vacuumed; you hung a new painting; you’ve kept the spider plant alive for six whole months; your credit score is above average. For God’s sake throw her a bone.”
But either Jude here’s got a funny way of working through his hopeless cases or he’s finally met his match, because I’m sure he’s aware that none of those things would help our situation. No, Mom wants something else for me. What she wants is the girl who wrote her number on my coffee cup last week, or the girl I brought to Thanksgiving dinner in high school, or even the one who ended things because I had my eyes open when we kissed. But what Mom doesn’t know is that she’s asking for rain—a downpour—when what she’s got is a cactus. All that water would kill the poor thing, which doesn’t actually matter because she doesn’t even want the cactus, not really. Mom wants a wedding dress, grandchildren who have her eyes, a daughter-in-law to get mani-pedis with, or even just a sign those things are coming, that I’m shaping up to deliver. But all I can offer are the his-and-his tuxedos in my closet, the man in my bed, and his ring on my finger.
So I sit Jude down and hand him my own prayer. It’s a wedding invite. A picture of me and my guy front and center. It’s for Mom. I tell Jude to break it to her gently, to let her down easy. Not likely it’ll happen that way, but we’ve all got our lost causes.
The mouse and I have reached an impasse: the little bastard’s nested in the guts of my oven and the only thing I’ve left to eat is a frozen margherita pizza. If I were my mother, I’d crank that sucker up to broil and let the rodent roast. I’m not my mother, though. I’m not my mother in so many ways it makes me queasy, but then again I’m exactly like her in so many ways it makes me want to stick my head in the oven the way she did when she was my age because she’d heard Sylvia Plath did that. I’m so much like my mother that I’m not talking to my mother, the way she wasn’t talking with hers until the funeral. I’m so unlike my mother that I’m on my hands and knees with a flashlight trying to root out my newest roommate so I can eat without blood on my hands, goddamn it. I’m so like my mother that I’d unhome a thing simply for being inconvenient. But then at least I can acknowledge that, right? That’s the difference between us, right? I think this as I hold the mouse in my hands and it claws against the cage of my fingers, and I wonder what my mother would do. She sure as hell wouldn’t be wondering that, though, so I just take the mouse outside, tell it to never come back, then go reeling up to my apartment, sick with how exactly like my mother I am.