If Mom were a superhero, she would be The Piddler.

When she needs to wash her hands, she’ll look through coupons first. If she needs to pick up the dry cleaning, she’ll stop at the antique store on the way. And when she needs to go to work, she’ll watch a rerun of Ab Fab, then show up half an hour late claiming, “Traffic was just awful today,” which, turns out, is every day.

I’d like to say that old age is responsible for this poking trait, but Mom’s always been a world class stoner without the weed.

When I was a Sid-and-Marty-Kroft kid, we’d always roll into church during the second hymn. I can still recall Birdie Cullen’s glass eye popping over to sneer at us as we inched down the red carpet to an open pew in the front (always in the front!) while the congregation sang “Holy, Holy, Holy” completely off key.

[Church was where I first realized that God hated me, but we’ll get to that later.]

My sister, clever mother of five beautiful children whom she manages with aplomb via color coated folders and spreadsheets, often gives my mom the incorrect time for family functions so that mom is sure to arrive on time.

“I gave her an extra hour,” my sister huffs as she opens the door for Mom who is now thirty minutes late for the event (an hour and a half if you go by the time she was told to be there.)

My brother, a staunch Libertarian who spends most of his Saturdays cooking tenderloin on his Smith and Hawken grill while wearing his sherpa-lined Crocs, bellows to his Belarusian wife, “Expecting her to be on time is like expecting Bill Maher not to cuss. Ain’t gonna fucking happen. Have a radish, monkey?”

“Thank you, Puffin,” she coos before turning to adjust a place setting, most likely from Williams-Sonoma.

They make me sick with their love.

But I’m happy for him.

Really.

One time, The Piddler made us late for a funeral.

Somebody’s uncle had died, and we never missed a funeral. They served bar-b-q beenie weenies afterwards, usually with cellophane toothpicks.

On this occasion, we made our way down the red carpet to a pew near the front (of course), right behind the weeping mistress who outed herself that day.

She was the widow’s best friend.

There was a slapping fight in the lobby afterwards. The wife lost her wig. The mistress lost her dignity. I permanently lost my appetite for beanie weenies.

[Why do friends fuck each other’s husbands?]

[Why do Protestant churches all seem to have red carpet? Isn’t red the color of Satan? And whores? And fire? I contend there is evil envy in the church, but we’ll get to that later, too.]

(So many questions, so few acid trips.)

Once again we had to pass Birdie Cullen, always a fixture at any church function, which included funerals, weddings, baptisms and bingo.

Birdie’s face never moved whenever we passed her. She would be transfixed on the pulpit, seemingly entrenched in the pastor’s words, but then that glass eye would whip around to find us, like the Weirding Way fighter training module in David Lynch’s Dune; and boy, could that eye shoot daggers faster than a pissed off carnie.

It was just a matter of time before Birdie’s eye started killing. Of this I was sure.

“Don’t stare,” The Piddler reprimanded, then waved to the church organist, Randy Butterman, the first closeted gay man I ever met.

(Mom and Dad were professional dancers, so I only knew the braggart kind.)

Incidentally, we were late for the funeral because The Piddler wanted to deadhead her geraniums.

Another time, The Piddler made me late for a concert I was supposed to play in high school. I was fourteen, an especially sensitive age.

We arrived at the auditorium fifteen minutes late (in retrospect, not too bad for The Piddler) because Mom wanted to make a quick stop at the drug store to get a new pair of pantyhose since the ones she had on had a run. Unfortunately, it was Sunday and The Blue Law forbade her from buying pantyhose on Sunday.

[You were also forbidden from buying washing machines or frying pans, which I found ironic since most religions like to keep their women cooking and cleaning, preferably barefoot where I’m from. The Blue Law seemed counterproductive. But life is full of these wonderful paradoxes.]

Though Mom was a practicing Presbyterian, she didn’t conform to a lot of religious hoopla, especially if it meant she had to go anywhere with a run in her stockings. After a meaningless but heated conversation with the pimple-faced clerk, she left without a new pair of nylons but did manage to procure a new romance novel, which she read at all the stoplights on the way to the concert, much to the chagrin of neighboring drivers.

When we finally arrived at the concert hall, the orchestra was already deep into the Summermovement of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, and I had to creep through the violas during the simulated thunderstorm.

To add fuel to the fire, The Piddler kept snapping my picture as Sammy Black, my super duper badass crush, watched me stumble with my cello through a maze of moving elbows. Flash after flare, The Piddler seemed to capture every nanosecond of this bright red moment. At least the flash was in time with the music, and it did add to the stormy atmosphere of the movement.

When I finally arrived at my chair, my nemesis, Sandy Ween, grumbled, “Figures.”

I jabbed her in the head with my bow.

The Piddler snapped a picture.

Later that evening, I asked The Piddler, “When will you develop the film?” I wanted to relive my magnum opus with Sandy Ween over again.

“You know what’s funny?”

“What?” I replied.

“I completely forgot to put film in the camera.”

Figures.

 

 

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When she isn't making movies or music, DUCKY WILSON serves as a spy for the Bokonon Underground Army, living by the foma that makes her brave and kind and healthy and happy. Her poetry has been published in several literary magazines, none of which you've ever read, and her nonfiction work can be read exclusively on The Nervous Breakdown. Currently, she is in development on her next film, an offbeat musical about misfits looking to belong.

3 responses to “Once, We Were So Late For School Pictures, It Was The Following Year”

  1. ducky says:

    Comment by jmblaine
    2009-06-22 17:08:24
    Smells like Lenore.

    Reply to this comment

    Comment by Zara
    2009-06-22 17:30:54
    I second that.
    One other thing… Is PIDDLER a word that can be lost in translation? What does it mean in the US? In New Zealand, a PIDDLER is someone who wets their pants. Which makes this post even more funny in a deeply weird way.

    Reply to this comment

    Comment by Ducky
    2009-06-23 11:17:30
    Ha! Thanks for the head’s up. Hadn’t thought of that translation. Unfortunately, my mom falls into both categories. But a “piddler” down south is someone who pokes along at things. They move bionically slow. If you blink, you’ll swear they’re standing still.
    (I must go re-read with the new translation.)

    (Comments wont nest below this level)

    Comment by Zara
    2009-06-23 12:13:56
    Oh No!! I’m sure your mother will be happy about you sharing that! Welcome Ducky, love your name!

    Comment by Zara
    2009-06-23 12:13:56
    Oh No!! I’m sure your mother will be happy about you sharing that! Welcome Ducky, love your name!

    Comment by Ducky
    2009-06-23 12:54:24
    Mom’s a writer, too, so she understands. Everything is fair game.

    Reply here

    Comment by jmblaine
    2009-06-22 17:46:55
    Oops.
    Perhaps not.
    I love church hymns and Ab Fab though.
    And I love bizarre.
    Welcome Ducky!?!

    Reply to this comment

    Comment by Ducky
    2009-06-23 11:18:03
    Thanks! Good to be here.

    Reply to this comment

    Comment by Kimberly M. Wetherell
    2009-06-22 18:45:05
    Indeed. Welcome Ducky!!!

    How much do I love that your brother and sister-in-law refer to each other as “Monkey” and “Puffin”?

    Probably as much as I love that you popped Sandy Ween (what a perfectly appropriate name) in the head with your violin bow. Served the little bitch right.

    My grandmother used to “piddle around.” Must be a ‘Southeren’ thing.

    Reply to this comment

    Comment by Ducky
    2009-06-23 11:23:43
    Yes, my brother and sis-in-law are sickening. If I didn’t love them so, I might have to slip them some Oleander in their tenderloin. But alas, they are super cool people who keep me on my toes about politics and world issues. Must keep those kind around.

    (Piddle.) Yes. Must be a southern thing. Never met a New Yorker who piddled. Native or Transplant. I think us non-piddlers (aka Type A, obsessive-compulsive, hurry-up-and-wait kinda folks) relocate to NY simply to get away from all the piddling.

    Reply to this comment

    Comment by josie
    2009-06-22 21:50:08
    Oh gee, another pseudonym. If that ain’t just ducky…

    We were never late for church.

    I can still hear the church pews creaking from the sounds of all those bodies turning to eye the late comers as they walked through the gossipy doors.

    ‘Course, now that I think about it, it wouldn’ta mattered much. Our pastor was from Texas and he never started on time.

    Boy, it’s been so long I can’t actually remember the color of our carpet. Had rugburns on my knees back then so you’d think I’d remember but I guess I had my eyes closed most of the time.

    Thanks for the tale, Ducky.

    Reply to this comment

    Comment by Ducky
    2009-06-23 11:26:48
    Ha! Have my fair share of rug burns, too. (Actually, bark burns. In the church garden.)
    Yes, another pseudonym. I’m a pussy.

    Reply to this comment

    Comment by sheree
    2009-06-23 08:52:49
    Brilliant post.

    Reply to this comment

    Comment by Irene with no last name
    2009-06-23 11:17:05
    Ducky,

    We used to “piddle around” too. And we were from Brooklyn!

    Reply to this comment

    Comment by Ducky
    2009-06-23 11:27:31
    Thanks. Appreciate the accolade.

    Reply to this comment

    Comment by Ducky
    2009-06-23 11:24:31
    What?! A piddling Brooklynite? I’ll never believe it.

    Reply to this comment

    Comment by Oksana Marafioti
    2009-06-23 18:21:51
    Love it. This is just the kind of stuff I like to read and write, anything that will embarrass the folks:)

    Reply to this comment

    Comment by Aaron Dietz
    2009-06-24 18:10:32
    Hey at least she’s trying to take pictures! I’m always bringing the camera and finding it in the bottom of the backpack after climbing some mountain or other.

    Reply to this comment

    Comment by Ducky
    2009-06-26 13:24:33
    An invisible kindred spirit.

  2. Ben Loory says:

    hi ducky. i just wanted to say i love the title of this piece so much. i’ve been saying it over and over in my head for a couple days now. so good work, you broke my brain. not that it was the most functional object beforehand or anything.

  3. Ducky says:

    Oops. Sorry bout that. I’ve been told I have a knack for breaking brains and balls.

    Thanks for reading, and so glad you like the title.

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