Everything I learned about being verbally cruel to others I learned from my mother. On meeting certain friends or boyfriends she would smell blood in the water, the timidity of a weaker animal, and lo! the judging would begin. My mother does not swear as casually as I do but then she didn’t need to. She had the vocabulary and the tone of voice to stop men twice her size dead in their tracks. This is why I can only aspire to her levels of greatness. I have to use words like “Fuck” and “Shitting” and “Thundercunt” to get my message of loathing across. Mom needs no such corse crutches.
She’s gotten over most of the hatred of social interaction she had when I was little and every now and then resists the natural gut urge bred into the women of my family to evicerate. Now when confronted with the inoccently stupid for the most part she manages to bite her tounge. For example she related to me the other day an incident at the salon.
The death of Farah Fawcett had just been announced and my mother and her stylist were chatting about how sad it was that she had died too young.
“What did she die of again?” The stylist asked as she delicately shaped my moms chin length bob. “It was cancer, wasn’t it?”
“Yeah, anal cancer.” Mom said a little sadly.
“Anal cancer?” The stylist said, puzzled.
“Yes… of the anus?”
The stylist didn’t stop her work but was still clearly chewing this information over and frowned.
“What part of the body is that?”
And with that remark the blood was in the water. My mother shifted a little in her chair. A thousand quips rolled in the cavern of her mouth, agitating like a hive of african bees. How does a grown woman NOT know what the anus is? How can someone get to be approximatly the same age as my mother and not have been hepped to that kind of info? After all it’s not as secret and mysterious as say, the clitoris.
My mother decided that alienating the woman on whom the intergity of her hair depended was not the best move and swallowed her incredulous bile. Instead she just said:
“It’s um…It’s the butthole.”
I gagged on my coffee when she told me this.
“You said “Butthole”?? That was the EXACT term you used?”
“I couldn’t THINK of anything else!”
“Oh my god, mom.” I was still trying to breath. “I have NEVER in my LIFE heard you say anything like “Butthole”.”
Over the phone I could hear the crackle as she sipped her Lipton’s tea and said dryly, “Well, Leia, there comes a time in every woman’s life where you just do what you gotta do.”