My mom is an adventurer at heart. As long as that adventure doesn’t involve driving at night, or anywhere she’s never been at least six times before (spoiler: she’ll still get lost on the 7th time). Her adventures are more likely to involve the taking up of a hobby or sport well outside her actual range of capabilities. She has a rich fantasy life, that lady. Reality has no place in it, and common sense likes to go out of town for the weekends.
The year I went to college, for example, she bought a unicycle. I can’t think of one good reason to own a unicycle if you don’t run a circus. It’s like having a giant lizard for a pet and then taking it for walks in the park. Yeah, you’re weird, we get it, you don’t gotta advertise the eccentricity all the time.
But this story is not about a unicycle. We all tried it. It was impossible. We moved on.
Then mom took up roller blading. Mom was awesome at rollerblading (according to mom). She regailed me with tails of her super fun and healthy new hobby whenever I called home. She rollerbladed around the park every day after work with her friend, Kumar. She was thinking about taking up rollerhockey. I tend to forget the simple fact that my mother is a pathological liar.
So when I was home from school for the summer, we figured it’d be a lark to dust off my old rollerblades and skate out to the Pulgas Water Temple. Mom drove us out there. We packed a little picnic and some water and strapped on our rollerblades without an ounce of shame.
The start of the paved “trail” to the temple is a nice, gradual downhill slope. I got out in front, cruised about twenty yards, then turned around to see my mom looking way less stable than advertised. I recognized that familiar expression of rising panic on her face as she picked up speed and I knew we wouldn’t be seeing that temple today.
And then she exploded. Her skates hit a painted white line on the pavement like it was a land mine and the next second she was flipping through the air, arms flailing. When she landed, even the birds flinched.
I rolled grimly back to her side. It’s not easy to be grim on roller blades.
“I’m fine,” she insisted, panting and clutching her wrist. “Go on without me, and…I’ll catch up in a minute.” Tears glinted in her eyes, her lower lip quivered.
Go on without me. Seriously. We were headed for a picnic, not the Hunger Games. Plus, I haven’t been that stupid for many, many years. I am not a guy.
She tried to get up. She failed. She sat there for a minute, contemplating her options. Reality is a harsh mistress.
“Yeah, I don’t think I’m gonna make it,” she said. “And I don’t think I can take off my skates. And, also, I think I may need to go to the hospital.”
I helped her off with her skates and on with her sneakers. I doted and tended and all that. I hardly mocked her at all (though I was saving up some serious mockery for later). I was a model daughter.
We get to the ER, and what does she list as her cause of injury? “My daughter pushed me down.”
Seriously. To anyone who would listen. The nicest version: “Yeah, I don’t think she meant to push me down. She hasn’t been on skates is years! And, you know, accidents happen.” What a saint.
“I was twenty yards ahead of you!” I cried. “You tripped on a PAINTED LINE!”
She didn’t care. “That’s not much of a story.”
The doc came in and gave her a shot of Demerol in her broken wrist. She let her suddenly painless hand flop back and forth. The doctor shook his head. “Most adults don’t do that. I’ve seen a few thirteen year old boys do that.”
“Did they tell you my daughter pushed me down?” she said.