Wednesday, April 06, 2005

My mom in the sky with diamonds.

My mom told me that our family friend had managed to get a good picture of me dancing with my mother at the reception. She said she would e-mail it to me, and I thought, "Hey cool, I can put a photo of me and my mom on the blog!"

So she sent me this e-mail with, like, 50 photos in it, and I went through all of them looking for a photo of the two of us.

Eventually, I realized that she's talking about this one.

So I called her up and said, "Um, we're in the background of the shot on the right-hand side, and all you can see is the back of my head."

"What do you mean?" she asked me, incredulously. "You can see a whole side of your face."

"It's my ear," I said.

"I'm sorry you don't like the photo," she said. "I thought it was nice."

"I thought it was going to be a photo of us," I said. "It's a photo of two other people, and we're in the background. You made it sound like it was a photo of us."

Her voice shifted into a serious tone.

"I didn't even notice the other people in the photo," she said. "I only saw us."

When she said that, I remembered how my mother can sometimes be. She was always able to look right at something and see only what she wanted to.

I remember once we were discussing what her favorite music was when she was a kid.

"I liked the Beatles," she said.

"What about the Rolling Stones?" I asked her.

"Oh, they were nothing but a bunch of drug addicts," she said.

"Um, so were the Beatles," I said.

"They WERE NOT," she said angrily, as though I'd just spit upon Jesus.

"Um, lots of their songs were about drugs, Mom."

"Name one," she said.


"That's not about drugs," she said.

"Yes it is," I argued.

"No, it's NOT."

"Look at the lyrics," I told her. "'Picture yourself on a boat on a river with tangerine trees and marmalade skies,' Even the title spells out LSD. Mom, what did you THINK it was about?"

"I just thought it was a nonsense song," she said innocently.

And she was serious. When she found out from me that the Beatles had used drugs, it was as though I'd destroyed her entire childhood.

Denial is, in some ways, her guiding force.

She was shocked - SHOCKED! - over finding out I was gay while I was in college, even though she purchased me She-Ra dolls when I was a child, sang along as I memorized the songs of "West Side Story" in middle school ... and heard me gush over the two-disc set of "Barbra: The Concert" when I was in high school.

At one point, she actually swore our family wasn't the least bit dysfunctional, even though she was there while my stepfather called me names, while I went into therapy, while my brother Dan stopped speaking to any of us for years and while we all grew to despise one another.

Because of her denial and in spite of it, I love my mom. She's sweet.

How telling is it that, in her eyes, the above photo is a picture of us?

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