Friday Morning tennis, the lob and the backhand.
So when the doorbell went at an unspeakably early hour this morning I did not automatically tremble, or hide. I rolled out of bed and answered the buzzer with a relatively cheery, 'mumphff?'
You know in films when the camera suddenly zooms in on the main character's face, revealing its stricken form in all its glory while the background remains murky and full of zigzagging lines and stuff? Kind of a like an acid flashback but without the coppery taste? You don't? Oh you do. Phew.
For it was she, giver of birth, giver of life, giver of headaches and ulcers. My mother, the fattest cat of 'em all.
Now things with my mother have been a bit off ever since the 'lift' episode, futher sullied no doubt by the 'phone call of forgiveness and blame', so naturally I was a bit surprised to learn she had descended from her stormy petrel and further perturbed by the fact that my torpid brain could find no reasonable way of avoiding opening the door.
'Oh hello there.' I shrieked. Nice, very casual.
'Can I come up?'
I buzz her in. So far so good. I resist running to the kitchen, best not have knives or sharp metal object to hand. Despite our current imbroglio I see no reason for murder just yet. I spy the bigger of the cats peeping araound the hall door. He is not a peeper so I can only surmise my mother's perfume is already in the wind. Either that or he can hear something in my voice that troubles him.
'Shoo.' I said, It's her.'
I hear the lift and open the door. I am greeted by a panoply of lilac. Her hair glistened in a bouffant of highlights and lowlights and headlights, no, strike the last one, that's just my deer caught thoughts.
' Hope I didn't wake you.' she lied.
'You didn't, I was just getting up.' I lied back. 'New?' I nod towards the chiffon wrap/tent/parachute thingie she has draped over her shoulders.
'Yes, do you like it?'
I freeze, she locks eyes with me. There is a rumble of thunder in the distance.
'It's very ...you.'
We offer each other twin smiles of triumph.
'So, what brings you here?'
'I thought you might like to have breakfast.'
I mentally scan my list of excuses, there are none fresh enough to ward off such an invite so I come up with the very lame... 'Oh, well okay, but I've got a mountain of work on.'
It was a feeble shot and it did not even the slightest dent in the miasma of Yves St Laurent that now filled my hall.
So okay, I dress while she terrifies the cats into huffling under the bed and presently we find ourselves down the street ordering toasted cheese and ham sambos and a large pot of tea for her, coffee for me. We make polite small talk over our food, but it is not long before the true nature of her visit leaks out.
'I hear congratulation are in order.'
'Conctatyuaioonnss?' I say, spraying crumbs like a blunderbuss.
'On your new house, Etheline tells me you might be moving.'
That preppy quisling, owner of shivering dogs and cream carpets. That silthery Morgan, Benedict Arnold, vile beast, most unclean...rat fink! My sister. I swallow.
'The paramour is buying a crumbling filthy rat infested house with a view to doing it up.' I say, affecting a weary air.
'It's up in ***********?'
'Fine houses up that way.'
So now I know, she has already been up that way, snooping about. It would not surprise me if she can recite the exact details of the house the Paramour has an offer on.
'Um.' I say.
'Surely it makes sense to move.' she sniffs, 'I mean it is what most people do when they plan to get married.'
'Do they?' I say. I begin to regret not bringing a knife after all, these cafe knifes would only ding her and make her madder.
Her eyes glitter. ' Yes, they do. I don't understand why anyone would turn their noses up at the offer of a house. I just don't understand it.'
'I haven't turned my nose up at anything.'
She sips her tea and regards me. 'You know, I"d like nothing more than to see all my children settled and happy before I die.'
'Well two of your children are married and two of them are engaged, how much settling do you require? Although,' I lean across the table and lower my voice, 'if you ask me it should be Etheline you have a word with.'
My mother looks startled. 'What?'
'Well, look, I shouldn't...no, never mind it doesn't matter.' I wave a disgusted hand and return to my coffee.
'What are you saying?" My mother demands.
'Nothing nothing...it's just,' I try to rearrange my features into a picture of pained dismay, as though my confiding in her was costing me a great deal, ' Well, have you ever wondered why Etheline has never actually...you know, set a date? Country Gay asked me about it the other day. It's weird, they've been engaged for ever, don't you think it's strange? She gets so mad if you bring it up.'
'No, I just assumed...'
'Look, I shouldn't have said anything, it's nothing, forget I brought it up.'
My mother is aghast. She has put a lot of stock in Etheline's marriage to that Kevin, a lot. I think she might even have an outfit picked out. I have killed the fattened calf, well not killed exactly, but I have sure as shit stunned the hell out if it.
Breakfast was over soon after and here I am back at my desk. There was no more talk of houses and judging by my mother's hasty retreat ( she did not even offer to come in) a certain Judas is going to find herself on the receiving end of some pertinent and tiresome questions.
Out of a little acorn the great oak grows.
I love Fridays.