Sunday, October 01, 2006

Kodak Moments.

First, a public service announcement: If you do not already put on your seatbelt for every stupid little car trip, even to Target, please do so.

I went to my mother's today, and this requires a drive West through Bumfuck, Egypt. A series of small towns with actual cattle ranches and orange trees. I was making excellent time, and actually had the nerve to think I might make the drive in an hour and fifteen instead of the standard close to two hours. So of course, I "caused" the wreck, merely by thinking that I might make good time.

I wasn't in it, and it wasn't serious - Car A and Car B got too friendly while Car A slowed to make a turn, or something. Nobody was hurt, though the local constabulary called out TWO ambulances, one fire truck, and local cops and the county sheriff. They stood around for a while blocking traffic, then we all moved along. Nobody was hurt, people were standing around on the side of the road surveying the damage and the ambulance drivers were shooting the breeze with their colleagues. But thanks to this minor accident, the drive took the traditional two hours.

On the return trip the wreck was more dramatic, and there was a very mauled Mazda in the road, in an area of many shopping centers. It was seriously crunched. All of the participants in the wreck were surveying the damage, calling cops, etc., and nobody had a scratch on them.

Oh, and before the police arrived on the scene the traffic organized itself into a neat, polite line and passed the wreck on the shoulder of the road. So let's see - cops from two jurisdictions on the site of a minor fender bender, helpfully directing traffic = 25 minutes without moving a foot. Seriously smashed car crosswise in the road, front end mangled to the point of immobility = about a 5 minute delay. Confirming my long-held theory that the local cops aren't really any better at directing traffic than the average slob and should devote their time to tending to the reports and such. When they direct, it always gets ugly.

But that wasn't the Kodak moment.

My mother had pictures sent by Cousin C, from her visit to our home state, Maryland, and our ancestral land, Noo Joisey. (I left there as a wee tot and don't remember it, I grew up in Bowie, MD.) The pictures were great, the old neighborhood in NJ, my uncle's house that I haven't seen in 40 years, my great aunt who is 93 and still hasn't gone completely gray, other old people, and the cousins in MD.

Some of the pictures were of Cousin S's gorgeous townhouse in MD, and the amazing flowers grown there by his partner J. One of the pictures was of S, J, and Cousin L. My mother said that Great Aunt had asked who J was.

I didn't say anything. I didn't have to. If I'd actually said out loud that S was gay and J is his absolutely adorable life partner, then my 80 year old mother would feel honor-bound to try to explain this to HER 93 year old aunt. The silence was good enough - my mother moved along instantly, saying, "They have a lovely place - look at that beautiful patio, and that barbeque! What a nice house! I'm glad he's doing so well." She got it, and no words were said. But because no words were actually SAID, she is off the hook about explaining gay great-grand-nephews to 93 year old aunts. She can honestly say that S is happy and has a lovely home. (The 93 year old knows S never married and produced kids, so she probably has an inkling, because she is sharp as a tack.) And this is how people of that generation accept these things - my mother knows, but she doesn't know, and therefore doesn't have to lie to her aunt.

It's how S handles it with the old folks, so I honored it. But my mother's priceless - she totally got it and is on board - we'll be discreet with the really old folks. The 80 year old gets it and is okay with it, but the 93 year old might not. She's old, you know.



dragon knitter said...

oh yeah. amazing how they do "get it." my brother is a shit, and my mother knows it. in fact, she knows it enough that there are times when she refuses to answer the phone when he calls (caller ID is wonderful!). she's 78. and while i never ask for gas money, or any help when i take her to the store/doctor/whatever (even in these insane prices, i feel it's my obligation to take care of her, she put up with my grumpy teen ass for a number of years). she visited my other brother & his wife in GA, and told my SIL that i may not know it, but she REALLY appreciates all the running i do for her. i know it. i just don't say anything, except "i love you" everytime i leave her/hang up the phone. it may be the last time.

Bess said...

Gotta love the generations. They help us see ourselves in perspective.

Prescious story.