ENTRY: March 23, 1992
Damn David, what was he thinking? I should be over at Shirley’s playing mah jongh, but no. Ma, you need some adventure in your life. Like I need hemorrhoids, I need this. Schvitzing like a fountain, I’m the queen of Mardi Gras. Who is he kidding? I’m a Jewish dishrag in a swamp, Fat Tuesday. For this I raised him, fed him, and bought him a fine education at the best goyishe schools money could buy. And he sends me to a swamp. Was I such a bad mother, I deserve this? Tea at Sibley’s, that’s where I should be, but No, “Ma, you’ll have fun.” If this is fun, God, bring on some suffering. Where did I go wrong to deserve such tsuris. Okay, so maybe there were days I didn’t change the diaper soon enough. He resents me so much he sends me here? Not a Jew in sight, and these fakokteh masks, I’m schvitzing my mascara off. And what kind of hotel has fans and no air. Local experience my tuchus. At least in the mountains the air moves. Here, bupkis. So maybe it was her idea, that princess he married. This is her way of getting even, for what, I don’t know. She sits around the “Club” all day while he breaks his back making a life. He would have been better off with that shiksah he dated in college, God should cut out my tongue. Shirley save me from this madness. Ethel, where the hell are you when I need you. And Saul, may it be really warm in the place you are going, you putz, for giving me a son like this.
ENTRY: August 18, 2005
So he calls this morning, out of nowhere, my David. He who’s allergic to the phone, how often he calls. David, whose diapers I changed, it seems like forever, the sheets till he was ten. His pediatrician had some long name for it, but I knew he was just too lazy to go to the bathroom during the night. It’s not like he had to wash the pishy sheets after all. And Lizzie hated handling the smelly things, but that’s what maids do I, had to keep telling her. So he calls this morning, this son of mine, this child who, God willing, will say to me before I’m deaf as a stone like that composer, before they plant me in some discount plot with no view, Ma, thanks for all you did for me. Like he even remembers! From him I get mishegas in heaps, and tsuris in unhealthy doses. And he calls in the morning? Who died, I say. And he goes silent. The last time he was silent he was under general anesthesia, with a tube down his throat. But now, he calls me for the first time in forever and then goes silent when I open my mouth. I want to say thanks for the bupkis, but I bite my tongue, mothers shouldn’t be sarcastic. Who died, I repeat. “Dad is dead,” he whispers. I say, “like I don’t know my father is dead, he died years ago, when you were still pishing your crib.” “Not grandpa,” he says, “dad. You know, MY FATHER.” Oh, I said, thanks for telling this to me. “The memorial service is Thursday in the Interfaith Chapel over at the U.” This I truly needed to know, I’m not at all sure why. To me, I buried Saul, the schmuck, years ago, nice and deep in my memory, didn’t want his head popping up. I buried the putz and now he’s got to go and die again, he couldn’t leave well enough alone. So now I’m supposed to stand there in black, which makes me look twenty pounds heavier than I am, and pretend to cry, like I’d risk getting tears on good Italian silk. Better they shouldn’t give me the shovel, I’ll dig him deeper still. And with the black lace for the head, like a bit of drek landed on my hair. So maybe that’s why he died, so I should stand around in black and everyone should stand around and whisper, just so I can hear, “look at Yetta, she looks so old, and has she put on the pounds.” God, why do you punish me so? Okay, so I made a mistake, I married the putz. You blessed me with a child, so what if he can’t remember my birthday and thinks Mother’s Day is sometime in October, when he recalls it at all. So now God, you think I haven’t suffered enough. Like my tsuris meter is reading empty and I need a refill? With a sense of humor like that God, it’s no wonder we had to invent the Borscht Belt. Okay, so we had a couple of decent years, and the Caddy was a nice touch, but why would he think I’d want red? You go figure. And a memorial service at the Interfaith Chapel, what’s with that, unless it’s cheaper than the Chapel at the Schul. So he thinks maybe he’ll pick up a shiksah in the next life, fat chance. He didn’t want his non-Jewish friends to be uncomfortable, David said. Like either of those goys could be uncomfortable in a room where there’s wine. Discomfort? They should have shared a bed with Saul, they want to know discomfort. You want sorrow? Feel some for the Levy’s, next plot over, Saul, now they have to put up with your snoring for all eternity. And me, all I got is this silent house with the toilet in the guest room that never flushes right.
First appeared here April 5, 2016