Monday morning. 8AM. Home phone rings. Caller ID shows it is Number One son, Paco. Dread stabs heart. It must be state troopers calling to say they have just discovered his rolled-over Mitsubishi in a ditch. They are calling from the cell phone deceased son was clutching in his hand, desperate to reach 911 (or his beloved Mom) in his last moments.
Second possibility. Son is calling to find out where his weekly allowance is. Naw, it’s waaaay too early for that; he wouldn’t be up for another three hours at least. Mystified, my hand slowly and reluctantly reaches for the receiver.
“Hey, Mom, how’s your day going so far?” Oh crap, there is way too much cheer in that voice for the early hour.
Wary. “OK so far, but what’s up?” Both elbows braced on the kitchen countertop. The better to keep me from tumbling to the floor when I hear whatever he’s about to share.
“Now, you HAVE to promise that no matter what I say you will let me finish and that you absolutely WILL NOT GET MAD, kay?”
I slid my eyes toward the liquor cabinet and wonder where God stands on a tequila shooter (or three) before your morning coffee.
“Well, I’m just going to come out with it. Are you ready?”
Last night’s chicken enchiladas and jalapeños are showing a sudden interest in making the acquaintance of my lungs. DO NOT THROW UP. Listen, who’s the grown-up here, right? He’s just an eighteen-year-old kid. What? Did he start a new Cuban missile crisis, or kidnap one of Brangelina’s 47 children?
“Ready as I’ll ever be,” I lied through clenched teeth.
“Well, Mom, the truth is, you’re going to be a grandmother and pretty soon, too!” Suddenly I was channeling Peg Bundy and my hand raised up to pat my imaginary bouffant, while my cleavage soared to my collar bones, and my skin-tight fuchsia faux lizard pedal pushers threatened to burst at their tacky made-in-China seams. I inhabited my future in an instant. Babysitting seven days a week in an un-air conditioned trailer while the proud parents of the grimy, diaper-clad spawn held down five jobs between them. Daughter-in-law (no, scratch that). There wouldn’t be enough money to afford a marriage license. White Wonder bread sandwiches every night smeared with Miracle Whip bought at the Dollar General. Before long there would be five kids because even the über poor like Paco and Baby Mama had to amuse themselves somehow.
Paco’s voice saying, “Her name is Lola and I’m bringing her home tomorrow,” snapped me back to the reality of my beautiful dream kitchen. What kind of name was Lola; was she a transsexual? And if so, what would I feed her or buy her/him for Christmas? But maybe she/he is Jewish and then I’ll have to learn all that Hanukkah business. My head was spinning with scenarios and possibilities. My legs felt like I’d just gotten off a rust bucket tilt-a-whirl at a traveling carnival. Oy vey.
“The good news is I’ve made some decisions about my future. I will definitely be coming home to live this summer while I work two jobs. You’ll love Lola; she’s cute as a button and very well behaved. She’s even mostly potty trained.”
“Jeez Mom, cut her some slack; she’s only ten months old.”
“Paco, I’m very confused; I thought Lola was your girlfriend?”
“Girlfriend? Jeez, are you kidding? Remember my roommate Chloe? Well, she got a puppy, but it grew and she didn’t have time for it, so she was going to take it to the pound to be put to sleep. You know I couldn’t let that happen, right? I’ve had her two months but I think the student housing police found out and they want a $300 pet deposit in 48 hours or else it’s curtains for Lola. So, I’m bringing her home to stay with you until my final exams are over.”
The relief at not being an impending Baby GrandMama was so acute it took a couple of hours to realize that I’d been snookered by Paco the Pizza Boy once again. Now, in addition to working a part-time job eleven hours most days, and starting up a new business enterprise, I get to come home bone tired and take care of FOUR needy and demanding pets. All by myself, for the next three weeks, until Paco the prodigal son finishes his semester.
Suddenly, considering the Peg Bundy alternative, it didn’t seem like such a bad deal after all. As I enjoyed my first cup of arabica on the patio, I pondered what my new grand dogter might look like. Allegedly she is black and white spotted, mostly Jack Russell terrier (eee gads!) and part coon hound. I’m sure she’ll grow on me, even if she looks like a cast member from The Walking Dead.