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in his driveway and nearly fainted from excitement when I showed
him the pontiff lounging in my backseat.
 Are you sure your mom doesn t want this? Like seriously?
 Trust me. It s all yours.
 This is the coolest thing ever. Really. I love it all hard. He
grinned and carried it into his house.
J.D. wanted to put the Pope in his bathroom but couldn t find
enough wall space. His girlfriend refused to let the John Paul II
into the bedroom. His housemates weren t excited about having
a Pope in the living room. Or in the kitchen. They cursed me for
passing on the picture, as if I had passed on gonorrhea. J.D. wan-
dered around his house surveying the walls.
 Don t sweat it, J.D. I mean, if you can t find a place for it, you
can throw it away.
 Throw it away? No, no, even if I wanted to, I couldn t throw
it away.
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Hol y Cr ap
J.D. wrapped the Pope in an old, filthy blanket and shoved it in
the dark corner of his garage, between boxes of dusty magazines
and outdated computer parts. To the best my knowledge, it s still
there today.
When my parents finally settled into their new home, there were
noticeably fewer figurines gracing the tables. My mother managed
to exercise some self-control. She bought a cabinet where she dis-
played many of her Catholic treasures alongside her china. There
were, however, countless boxes of religious decorations tidily
stacked in the garage, and I regretted not throwing out more boxes
when I had the opportunity.
Still, each time I visit my parents house, I notice more and more
crosses and pictures and candles and statuettes. Slowly, my mother
has been adding to her collection: tissue box covers embroidered
with crosses, a wine decanter etched with prayers, a clock depict-
ing Jesus last days on the cross (something J.D. would kill for). I
hope that they ll move again, and I wonder if praying for a minor
earthquake makes me a horrible person.
107
The Best Diet
Despite all the pressure to get into Harvard and achieve my par-
ents American dream, I ended up at the University of California at
Berkeley, which may not be the best school in the country, but it is
the best public school, at least according to Newsweek. At first my
parents grumbled maybe I should ve taken advanced placement
physics or maybe I should ve done more volunteer work or cured
diseases in Africa. Eventually they awoke from their crimson haze
and learned to love the Golden Bear.
happy birthday or whatever
My first week of college, I got a phone call from my mother
every half hour. Mornings were a particularly rough time she s
one of those criminally insane morning people who believe that if
they are up at dawn, the rest of the world is, too. On my first day
of school, my mother called at 6:00 and asked why I wasn t getting
ready for school, and I groggily explained I had class at noon. At
6:30, she wondered why I still wasn t up yet. At 7:00, she asked
what I was going to eat for breakfast and I replied,  sleep. At
7:30, she announced she was going to go for a quick walk, so she
might not be home if I called her. At 8:00 she told me how nice
her walk was and that I should walk every morning, too. At 8:30,
she called in a panic, that if I didn t wake up NOW, I d miss my
noon class. I growled that I didn t need three and a half hours to
get ready for class, but I did need three and a half hours of more
sleep. At 9:30, she inquired about my plans for lunch. When the
phone rang at 10:00, my exhausted roommate blurted out,  Please,
please tell her to stop! I explained to my mother that she didn t
have to wake my roommate and me up every morning because we
had a special machine called an alarm clock that served the same
purpose. But the phone calls still didn t stop. She called to tell me
she dropped off her dry cleaning. An hour later, she told me she
bought a new brand of hair gel. When she called to tell me to save
all my mismatched socks because she had found a few loners in her
laundry room, I threatened to cut her off forever.
I understood that she was lonely, now that her children were
out of the house, and I understood that she worried about me,
especially as the baby in the family. But the calls were out of con-
trol, beyond what was reasonable and healthy. I assured my mother
that I was responsible I was going to all my classes on time and
even found a job and that I didn t want or need to know that
her grocery store reorganized the fruit section. Finally, my mother
110
The Be s t Di e t
agreed to talk once a week, and my roommate and I got an answer-
ing machine and a phone with a ringer we could turn off.
My first semester went smoothly; I enjoyed independence and
life without my mother. I realized how much she held me back
from irresponsible boozing, bouncing from party to party, and
smoking an acre of weed, all on a school night. I can t say that
I missed her too much, but I did like talking to her once a week.
One March afternoon, I called to chat with my mother, and I was
surprised when my father picked up the phone. I normally called
him at his lab, where he spent his fourteen-hour days analyzing
metals and compounds and watching the Lakers or Dodgers on a
tiny black-and-white TV.
 Hey, Dad, why you home? Shouldn t you be at work?
 I m taking the day off.
 Cool, what for?
 To take care of you mommy.
 Oh did she sprain her ankle again? Or throw her back out?
She s always doing that kind of stuff.
Once on a ski trip my mother swerved to miss a tree and col-
lided into my father instead. He was fine, but she sprained her knee
and had to be taken down the mountain by the Snow Patrol. She
was really embarrassed because she fancied herself a good skier.
Whenever we waited in line for a chair lift, she adjusted the zip-
pers on her puffy orange snowsuit, tightened her enormous amber
goggles, and practiced going into a low-tuck position. She hopped
from left to right and pretended to race down moguls, making a shh
shh sound through her teeth.
 No, no, Annie, not this time.
 She got a cold or something? Just tell her to take some NyQuil
and she ll get over it. You should take some too; she s probably
contagious.
111
happy birthday or whatever
 No, not a cold.
 Then what? What s left? You give her a rash or something? I
laughed at my own joke.
 Mommy has cancer.
I lost control. I felt as if my body had lost its shape, as if my
muscles and bones had melted away. My hand loosened around the
receiver and I dropped it. I slowly slid off my chair and slumped to
the floor, my head gently resting on the carpet. She has what? For
some reason, all I could think about was my dorm room carpet. It
reeked like feet and beer and I wondered when the last time it had
been shampooed, certainly not in my lifetime. This carpet prob-
ably had lice. Maybe scabies can scabies live in carpet? My feeble
brain was unable to process Mommy and cancer in the same sen-
tence, so it moved on to something it could deal with filthy carpet
infested with mites. Somehow, I summoned the strength to pick
myself up and climb back into my chair. I took the receiver and [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]




 

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