"All the football games are in Spanish!" she said. "No, I don't want the tikka masala! I want someone to come out here and fix this fenuncle thing. It makes no sense... Hello? Hello?"
Mom looked at me.
"They put me on hold again. Can you believe this? Look!" Mom pointed her remote. All her football games were in Burrito. And then she switched to HBO--everything was spicy there, too. Mathew McConaughey kept saying, "Bueno bueno bueno."
"Did you look into your settings, Mom?"
"They already told me that! I have no idea what... Oh! What did I do? My fingers are too fat. I meant to press mute and I wound up hitting the POWER ALL."
Everything went existentially dark. I took the opportunity to use the turlet and then wander into the guest bedroom. I coughed, overwhelmed by the thick odeur of kitty litter. The carpet was crunchy underfoot. Stuffed between the sewing machine, circa 1969, and the computer desk, circa 1969 BC, was the painting I had done of Mom. I pulled it out. Her sad face was already covered in a film of gray, kitty, sadness dust.
"Mom?" I said, bringing the painting into the living room. "Did you not like the painting I did of you?"
Mom was still holding the phone in one hand, pointing her remote with the other. "Isn't that the weirdest thing! Now the channels are back in English! Hello? Oh, never mind. Hello! Can you hear me? No, I don't need a technician. NO, DO NOT SENT SOMEONE! I figured it out. Everything is back in English... Hello? Oh! I have another call." Mom squinted at her phone. "Hello? (It's your brother, Chris.) Hello, yes, dear. What? Toots made a steak?"
Mom looked over at me, bewildered.
"Why would he call to tell me his daughter is making a steak?"
"Flank or ribeye?"
"Hello? Chris, hello? Did she... Oh! She made state. I see! In gymnastics? Oh, how very good! Yes..."
I sighed. "I guess we're off to the Sizzler again tonight."
"Greg is holding that awful painting of me... Yes. No. Uh-huh. All right. Okay. Yes. Bye. Uh-huh. Bye now."
Mom hung up. "Will you put that away, please? You made me look too sad. I'm not that sad looking. And old. Why couldn't you paint me when I was younger?"
"Because the time machine shakes too much when I try to paint."
"Everything has to be a joke with you, doesn't it?"
"How did you know my secret identity?!"
Make us laugh, jester boy!! GAMBOL. NOW!!!
Mom put the remote on her stack of Bible study guides. She sighed.
"I'm thinking of quitting my class."
"Everyone... I don't want this to sound bad... But everyone has their opinions about the Bible, and... I don't want to hear it. I think we should just listen to the word of God. Too many smart people with their opinions. I don't like it."
"I think your problem, Mom, is that you don't like people."
Mom slumped. "Yeah," she said. "That's probably true."
I held up my thumb.
I held up my thumb.