The days went by and they were much happier ones than all my days in the past. We met for coffee, dinner, lunch, movies, shopping, and any other reason I could come up with just to be with her. Before I knew it the summer had passed and Halloween was next. In our conversations we each shared the pressure coming from our parents to meet the other and for the families to meet. Some parents are subtle (not mine) and some are more direct (not hers). We tried to discuss the “event” but it always became a time of nervous laughing and exaggerations of the impact on everyone’s lives.
I am not sure why what happened on Halloween happened but I do know that Tess and I stood in the grips of a horrible monster and we were being held over a cliff to which we could not see the bottom. Honestly as I sit here trying to share with you the story I can feel the same emotions of that moment. We would learn later just how desperate and resolved our parents were.
A couple days before Halloween I received a call from my mother, you KNOW how THOSE calls are.
“Hello honey how are you doing?”
“Um, fine mom I saw you and dad yesterday; nothing’s changed.”
“I know, I was just wondering if you will be over to pass candy out to the kids this year on Halloween.” Before I could answer, “You know how much that means to your father, it is you fellas ritual. He has dug up his glow in the dark vampire teeth and black top hat.” Whack – daggers one & two reach their mark.
“Actually mom I was going over to Tess’ this year and we were going to hand out candy at her apartment.”
“Oh, your father will be so disappointed…”
“Mom will you tell him, it will be much easier coming from you. You know how I feel about Tess…”
“Why don’t you two come over and hand out candy over here? Oh, that would be wonderful and your father won’t be disappointed and we can finally meet Tess.”
“Mom you know who Tess is, you go to the grocery store…”
“That is not the same, we can never talk. Why don’t you want us to officially meet her? Are you ashamed…” (No my mom is not a Catholic or Jewish mom. I understand that they are masters of the craft of using guilt to accomplish their wishes.)
“Mom stop you know I am not ashamed of you and dad. Gads – we are just taking things really slow, that’s all.”
“Slow? You guys are together just about every day. It would mean so much to your dad and me, please ask Tess.”
I was completely exasperated and I know that you definitely KNOW the feeling. When did the shoes get put on the other feet? I remember using the tears and eyes and limited vocabulary as a kid to guilt my parents into getting me baseball cards, candy, baseball hat, going to movies without their attendance, money to go to the store with a couple fellow outsiders at school. When exactly did the parents become the bearers of the guilt tool? Come to think of it when did they become the children? Knowing what I know and how this story ended when did it occur that we “protect” our parents from the truth? Watch out for them, making sure they are well, taking them to the doctor, exactly when did the roles get reversed? But I digress…
“Mom I am not going to ask Tess because she has really been looking forward to us doing this together at her place. I don’t want to make things awkward for her.”
Fine son” (the three-letter word that advertises dagger #3 is on its way) “I will tell your father. Don’t worry about us we will handle Halloween alone.” Bullseye.
The pregnant pause but I did not waver. “Thanks mom but I need to go now. Love u and tell dad I love him too.”
“We love you too, son.” Click – no that was not just the phone hanging up, it was also the sound of fourth dagger nailing its mark.