Thursday, March 31, 2005

12:30 am call from the parents

Bob invited me over last night for homemade pot roast (which was fabulous), Shark Tale (which was too cute for its own good) and a look at my pictures from Europe (which I hope weren’t too boring). After we sat around for the rest of the evening solving all the world’s problems on our full tummies, I thanked him for dinner, headed out at the exact moment I needed to catch the last express bus north (because I have a wide array of superpowers), putzed around on my computer for a while with a Kleenex in my hand when I got home, and climbed into bed.

And just as I was in that happy place between snuggly under the sheets and worthless lump of sleeping man-flesh, my phone rang. And I just knew it was my mom (remember: superpowers). And I sat bolt-upright with my heart flailing around like a drag queen in a marabou boa.

At 36 (and 50 weeks!), I still get the occasional drunk-dials in the middle of the night, but the superpowers help me identify those calls by sound and I can just stick my head under a pillow and fall back asleep rather quickly.

But late-night or early-morning phone calls from the family have historically meant only one of two things: bad news (the dog died) or worse news (the cancer, the plane crash). Otherwise, we just don’t call each other when normal folks are in bed. Seriously. Our hearts can’t take it.

Worse yet, the number on my Caller ID last night was Mom’s cell phone—which, of course, meant that either someone was trapped in a car overturned in a rain-swollen ditch or there’s been an international kidnapping. (I’m good at interpreting the signs. It must be from watching all those episodes of CSI. Or maybe it’s the superpowers.)

Trembling (literally), I answered the phone. And Mom’s first words to me were: “Bonjour from the Eiffel Tower!” Which is exactly what I’d said when I’d called my folks from the actual Eiffel Tower a couple weeks earlier. So Mom was clearly calling in the middle of a life-flashing-before-her-eyes thing and it was too late for me to save her. Because Mom couldn’t actually be in the Eiffel Tower—she was in Iowa.

And then it hit me: She wasn’t in Iowa. She was in Las Vegas visiting her cousin. And (as she explained over the phone) they were eating at a restaurant in that fake Eiffel Tower above Paris Las Vegas. Or the Elvisio. Or whatever the hotel is that has the fake Eiffel Tower. (Don’t look at me; I’ve never been to Vegas.)

She had time-zone issues. She was excited about her trip. She didn’t realize how late it was. She just wanted to call and kill me say hello.

And after my heart found its way back down into my chest, I crawled back into bed and slept like the dead. And I mean that in the just-an-expression kind of way.

10 comments:

Jeff said...

You know, if they can't strike fear in what's left of our hearts, then our parents haven't done their job right.

Scott-O-Rama said...

My family is the exact same way. Any calls before 8:00am or after 10:00pm means someone's dead.

Dan said...

Jake, you're too cool for words. ;) I'm don't find much interest in reading blogs, but I keep coming back to yours. It's been months and I'm surprised to be drawn back so very often. Great writing, very engaging. <3

mugster said...

I too fear calls in the night or in the early morning, especially since I've got a very old grandma.. oh touch wood..

David said...

Your mom sounds so nice!

Alina said...

In my case, it depends on the parent: if my mom calls late, something bad has happened. If my dad calls late, he’s probably in the middle of a party. Yet when it comes to me they are worried sick if I don’t call to say I’m ok after an hour and a half trip from my home town to Bucharest. So, if they didn’t give me a heart attack, at least they’ll complain they almost had one because of me…

Cincy Diva said...

My poor folks don't stand a chance. They live in Arizona which doesn't celebrate Daylight Savings. So for a couple months in Spring and Fall, Mom's calls are at screwy times as she tries to adjust to the 2/3 hour difference.

Ben said...

You are hilarious!! I love your blog.

Michael Guy said...

I have the 'phone call' warning system in place. My sis calls me at 9pm--when her kids are in bed--to advise that Mom is going to call me later to vent about such and such. Translation: my sister lost an hour of her evening listening to Mom go on about Mary's new curtains and how she can afford them when that no-good husband of hers cheats with the cashier up at Kroger's. Duly warned, my 'ringer' is switched to "off".

Jonathan said...

Kleenex? I usually have a Brawny paper towel in my hand when I 'putz around on the computer.'