things i don’t need to know

January 3, 2008

“I saw your grandma kiss another man once.”  I had been painting my toenails, only half-listening, balancing the phone between my ear and shoulder.  I thought my mom was kidding and said so.   “No,” she said, “I’m not.  But never mind.  I shouldn’t even be telling you about this.”  I was listening now but stayed reticent, the way I usually was when my mom called me.  She called a lot.

“It was when she and Grandpa were having problems,” my mom said, “when I was around 16.”  This was typical.  Mom liked to bring something up, something she wanted to get off her chest, then say she should be talking to a counselor about it, not me.  But she always continued anyway.

“Grandpa was drunk and Grandma wasn’t home from work yet.  I guess back then she used to go out for drinks after work with everyone and stay out pretty late.  Anyway, Grandpa was yelling at me to go find her and bring her home, so I got in the car and drove.  I knew where she would be.”  I was still quiet.  I didn’t ask for this story.  In fact, I was kind of horrified by what might come next.  But I let her go on.

“I pulled up to this bar and there she was, in the parking lot, making out with this guy from her work.”  My mom paused.  “Her boss, actually.  I rolled down the window and said, ‘Mom, get your ass in the car!’  That’s what I said, ‘Get your ass in the car and come home!'”  I held my breath.

“Are you there?”

“Yeah, Mom,” I said.  I was crying.  I cry often.

“We never talked about it.  She never said another word to me about it and I never said another word to her.  In fact, I don’t even know if she remembers it.  She was really drunk.”  So many things I don’t need to know, I thought.

“I’m sorry for telling you this.  I shouldn’t have.  It just helps me to think that if Grandma and Grandpa got through their hard times, maybe I can make it through mine.”

“Yeah,” I said.  “You will.”


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