Monday, July 12, 2010

The personal assistant

For many years, I have suspected that my mother views me as her personal assistant. This would explain the fuzzy/non-existent boundaries. Actually now that I think about it, I do seem to recall her telling someone that I was her assistant.

It started off rather innocently. At age nine or so, I was frequently confronted with the words, "This doesn't smell right. Taste it." Taste some bad milk once and you learn some skills. I would take the offending carton and stand by the sink. Then I would pour the milk over a finger and taste a drop from said finger. Believe me when I say that if the milk has gone bad, then all you need is one drop to ascertain such.

By high school, I had additional duties. First was that upon hearing the garage door open, I was to go to the kitchen to prepare a White Russian. This was to be done by sight because I was underage and therefore should not be drinking. The cocktail was to be ready by the time my mother reached the kitchen.

And a few times a week we would stop by the nearby gas station in the mornings. I would get out and run into the store to request packs of Benson & Hedges Deluxe Ultralights. Sometimes the clerk would pull out the wrong box but I knew what it was supposed to look like and would correct them. I did not want to hear it if I returned with the wrong cigarettes.

But the true duty was that my mother basically stopped answering the phone. It was my job to answer and screen calls. If it was someone to whom my mother did not wish to speak, I would deftly lie, stating some reason for her unavailability.

Flash forward to this weekend. As I have stated earlier, there are certain types of roads that my mother will not drive. This would be why I had not seen large parts of Marin and Sonoma Counties until adulthood. But sometimes she just has to go somewhere. And I must drive her. That's how I found myself spending seven hours with my mother on Saturday. I'm still trying to figure out if she ever took a breath in all those hours to stop talking.

Our trip was to Sonoma County to see a friend of hers. This friend was in a really bad car accident earlier this year. While she was starting her recovery from the accident, she had a series of strokes. Finally after months in a rehab center, she has returned home.

The photo above is the patio area of their home. I think it's beautiful. My mom? "Why the hell would anyone want to live way out here in the middle of nowhere?" It could have been better if I had been allowed to accept the glass of wine that was proffered upon our arrival -- because of course these people are winemakers -- but wine is never allowed. At least not for me.

And I kept my fingers crossed that all would go well at our dinner at the Hotel Mac. I had made a reservation there after receiving an email announcing their special for the weekend.

Fried calamari appetizer

Entree of braised short ribs with cheddar mashed potatoes

The only dessert I ever have there -- bread pudding

Thankfully all went well with the meal. And you know what made it even better? That meal pictured? $25. So now we have gone to the Hotel Mac on three different occasions in the last year or so and all has gone well. I am afraid to try anywhere else at this point. Because my boss can be rather demanding and I'm afraid that one day she'll throw a cellphone at my head.