Will never forget the day dad talked over mom at a dinner party. That night she drugged him and split his tongue with a straight razor while my sister and I watched. “You see that, kids? Your father is a lizard now! You live in a terrarium!” 

 

When you give your mom a card and you watch her read it and well up and then the mist turns melancholic and severe as she looks through the table and into the past and assesses the present and you have to make a joke to break the spell. 

 

Hope Philip Roth’s mom is waiting for him, legs spread, in Heaven. 

 

I suggested to my mom that we do a family ayahuasca session for Christmas to which she replied, “My shit is together, isn’t it?” I said, “You are the master of your own shit. You tell me?” And she said, “Yeah, well it moves forward.”

 

When you die you go back into your mother and she goes back into her mother and so on until the nesting doll of existence repacks itself through primates and primordial goo all the way back up to the Big Bang.

 

I was telling my mom and sister the story of Pagliacci the Clown and right before the punchline, my mom corrected my pronunciation and in textbook Italian said “PAG-leee-ah-CHO.” I walked away frustrated and they laughed and called me Pagliacci. 

 

My mom sprays windex on her hands to slide her rings off of her swollen summer fingers. 

 

Mom used to take me to McDonalds once a week after school and I’d eat a double quarter pounder meal and she’d fall asleep because the smell in there made her tired. After, we’d sit in a dusky parking lot listening to the classical station while waiting for my sister to finish ballet. 

 

Mom and I pogoed to a Ramones song at a strip mall sports bar on Long Island. Dad was playing drums. 

 

Mom and Natasha are talking about a new hybrid vegetable, a cross between celery, lettuce, and asparagus. I ask if it’s called aspalettery and they dismiss me with a derision befitting a proud gun owner whose toddler accidentally shot them in the back. 

 

My mom spent a couple of months in the late ‘90s saying “who killed Kenny” apropos of nothing and laughing. She also liked Dr. Evil’s “zip it” bit and would punctuate expressions of longing with “throw me a friggin’ bone here.” 

 

When moms post pictures of their kids with the caption “Please stop growing,” I can’t help but think they are inviting a curse to befall their houses. The curse of the perpetual baby. Be careful what you wish for. 

 

Mom is both very sensitive and bites like a barbed lash. She reads a lot. Mocks pathos. Makes you fight for her approval. She was a brilliant pianist who just stopped one day. Now she’s leisure sport competitive with herself. Tennis, anyone? 

 

My mom called me the Hamlet of Greenpoint and I told her I’m the Hamlet of poor lunch decisions, whatever that means. 

 

Last time I saw her, mom brought me and my friend a bucket of what she calls “ghetto chicken.” She still thinks it’s going to work out for me. Thinks maybe it’s working and I don’t know it yet.

 

 

Tom Laplaige is a writer from New York. He likes to sleep with the window open. @sighpilot

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