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Sons

     After months of waiting to see them, my sons are finally here! Max (on the left) made the mistake of telling me that the moon looked really cool over the mountains, so I made him and Sam get up on the roof with me while I took their picture. They’re used to this, I’ve been sticking a camera in their faces forever.

     They flew in from Providence Thursday night and Buck and I feel like we’ve just been laughing ever since. They’ve been cracking us up, and helping us move furniture. Actually, they’ve done all the furniture moving. This is the first time we’ve had our furniture in the house and it’s excellent … I forgot how nice it is to have a couch to sit on. And they didn’t even complain while I carefully considered each move of the couch or chairs and then said, “No, let’s try it over here instead …” 

I did that four or five or five times.

My daughter Cody is staying in Boston for the holiday. It was a tough decision for her, I know she wanted to be with us but she also wanted to be with her boyfriend.  I stayed out of it by supporting her decision whatever she chose. It’s hard enough to make decisions without your mother putting in her two-cents. I know this because my own mother had an opinion about everything and didn’t need any prompting to verbalize it, and wouldn’t stop verbalizing even when you asked her to. My mother’s constant “advice” made life miserable, actually. I never want to inflict that on my kids. We miss Cody, but that’s all part of this growing up stuff I guess. (My growing up, but her as well.) She sent a surprise duffel bag of Christmas packages on the plane with the boys, “To make me and Sam look bad, as usual,” Max said. But I said, “Yay! Thank god for daughters! Now give me that wonderful-wonderful duffel bag …”

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Max: Somebody hacked off Roger Williams’ fingers. 

Me: Jesus Christ. WHY WOULD THEY DO THAT?! The world is so freaking sick, Max, I’m sorry, I feel like I have to apologize for it. The world is becoming ruined 

Max: Ma . . . wait . . . I’m talking about the statue of Roger Williams, the guy who founded Rhode Island. They cut off the statue’s fingers.

Me: Oh. I thought you meant your friend outside the restaurant who was talking to you about his bird. I never looked at his fingers, so for all I know he didn’t have any.

Max: THAT GUY IS NOT MY FRIEND. He was just some nut on the street saying that talking birds suck. And he was like 35-years old! Goddammit, why would you think that weirdo was my —

Me: [laughing] You agreed with him —

Max: Wouldn’t you? He was a nut. [laughing] I would have agreed with whatever he was saying just to make him go away. But actually, I do agree with him. I don’t really like parrots, or any talking birds for that matter. Some are cool I suppose, but mostly they just smell. And you never know what they’re thinking.

Me: I know, that is true. I don’t like them either, really. They’re nothing like dogs. Let’s go look at the real Roger Williams without his fingers.

Max: As opposed to the fake one who hangs out on street corners.

Me: Are we near there?

Max: Yeah. It’s in Prospect Terrace Park.

Me:  I have no idea where we are. But at least everyone in Providence is nice, which is why I want me and Dad to move here. When I got lost in the McDonald’s parking lot, everyone was waving at me. In a good way.

Max: I’m sure they were.

Me: That restaurant we went to was a hip little place, I really liked it. My Jedi Omelet was good.

Max: Yeah. I know you don’t like bars, but that’s not really a bar-bar.

Me: It’s not that I don’t like bars, it’s just that at my age I don’t think I belong in one. I never want to be mistaken for someone who’s been rode hard and put away wet.

Max: Did you get that expression from me? Oh wait . . . did I get that expression from you? I’ve been using it so long I have no idea how it became part of my vocabulary.

Me:  It’s my dad’s expression. It refers to horses, but it easily applies to people, too. Women, mostly. Which is how Papa used it. It’s derogatory, but when it does apply it’s the perfect summation for how some people look. I’ve spent my life trying to avoid that look. 

Max: What the hell are you doing?

Me: It so hot, I have to take off these boots, and I’m trying not to put my bare foot down on all this jagged glass from the goddamned glass of Diet Coke I broke.

Max: I’ll pull over so we can toss it in a trash can.

Me: No, it’s fine, it’s in a neat pile now. So what it is it with you and Roger Williams? I feel like you’re always talking about . . . motherfu–

Max: WHAT DID YOU DO?

Me: I just cut my fucking foot on all that jagged glass.

Max: Jesus, is that blood?

Me: No, no, no, it’s a little bit but I’m fine. Don’t worry about me. I’ve got Band-Aids in your glove box. I snuck them in there for you just in case you wanted one, for an oven burn or whatever. But the problem is, now I’ll have to use them all. I’m sorry, I’ll buy you some more. I’ll get you a case of them at Costco.

Max: Don’t do that. I don’t want any Band-Aids in my glove compartment. You already stuffed it with your Chinese take-out menus. Is your foot okay?

Me: Geez I really miss you, remember when I was teaching you to drive and we would drive around like this while I did our homework? 

Max: What I remember, is being sent to the office because of swear words appearing in my essay you wrote on Lord of the Rings.

Me: That’s true. I called Frodo a fucktard.

Max: Yes. 

Me: And you were so cute, you took it like a man. You did all those Saturday detentions and wouldn’t even consider dropping a dime on your mother. But the weirdest part for me, was I didn’t even realize I’d said that about that dreadful little character till  I referred back to my original draft and saw that I did indeed write the thing in a kind of experimental stream of consciousness rant. But I was very busy, I had three kids and was a full time reporter at that point, Dad was busy, we had four dogs who wouldn’t stop barking, and on top of all that, I hated The Lord of the Rings. And I still do.

Max: Oh my God, we can park right here.

Me: Oh yeah, there he is. Let’s go take photos of his hand.  What’s Roger Williams’ deal again?

Max: His deal is that his whole life people thought he was crazy. Even when he was a little kid he used to fight with his parents about religion and authority.

Me: Excellent.

Max: He had his own views, and his parents thought he was a crazy little bastard. He kinda got kicked out of England, so he went to Massachusetts. The he got kicked out of places all over Massachusetts, from Plymouth to Salem and I think Boston.

Me: Wow. This sounds like our family

Max: Yeah. He got to the point where they were gonna exile him back to England. So what he did was run to Seekonk. But then he found out that was still part of Massachusetts.

Me: Seekonk does have some hideous parts to it, but those are the parts I like.

Max: Me too. But he crossed the river and started his own gig. He founded Providence. He became friends with the Narragansetts and started speaking their language. He liked them, but I’m pretty sure he had some weird thing going on with them. Or that he was doing to them.

Me: Well that’s fascinating. And disgusting.

Max: But that’s why I believe that if you’re a true Rhode Islander, you’re there because you got kicked out of Massachusetts.

Me: Now I get it.

Max: Exactly. If you wanna be real Rhode Island, you gotta start in Massachusetts.

Me: So who cut off the fingers?

Max: They don’t know. Vandals, I guess.

Me: Okay, well I’m all set with this. Let’s go get a  Phoenix. There’s a story about Buddy Cianci that I gotta read. If he runs again, will you vote for him?

Max: Yes.

 

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Outside Providence

Me: Here’s my itinerary. I’m going over to Providence right now to pick up Max. He’s staying with me till tomorrow afternoon. Then I’m giving him a ride back to Providence. My God, I’ve said Providence like 200 times this morning. I’m sick of saying it.

Buck: [some sort of sigh] I remember when giving him a ride meant carrying him around on my shoulders.

Me: Well, I have his car. So I guess, technically speaking, I’m not giving him a ride, per se, on my shoulders or otherwise. I’m continuing to deny him the use of his car. But of course he’s very sweet about it. He pretends he doesn’t need it at all and that giving me his car is the very thing in life he’s always wanted to do.

Buck: Whatever. Whatever you’re talking about sounds great, even though I have no idea what it is. I’m really busy this morning.

Me: Speaking of talking. I was thinking this morning how it’s a great relief to me that everyone here sounds like us. I can relax and just speak normally, not like when I’m in El Paso and I have to hide my accent. Here,  I don’t have to think out of every single word before I say it, figure out how it will sound to strangers, and then enunciate like a newscaster.

Buck: You never hide your accent. I’m not saying you don’t try, it’s just that physically you’re incapable of it.

Me: That’s incorrect. When I’m in El Paso I sound like Diane Sawyer.

Buck: [laughing] You’re dreaming. You have the most wicked Boston accent that ever assaulted anyone’s ears, and it’s there in your mouth 24/7. You can’t hide it. Why do you think I have to translate for you all the time? It’s really outrageous, no one here can understand a word you say. I don’t think you could pronounce an R if someone held a gun to your head —

Me: [laughing] [laughing] [laughing] OH MY GOD, you should have heard yourself just then! You said, you couldn’t pronounce an AH if someone had a gun to yah head! [laughing]

Buck: [laughing] Mine’s bad, I never said it wasn’t. But yours is worse. Mine’s a little better.

Me: [laughing] [laughing] You just said, mine’s beddah!

Buck: Is this why you called? I’m still on deadline, I wanna get this issue over with.

Me: [laughing] You just said, I wanna get this OVAH with! 

Buck: Listen, instead of going to Providence, why don’t you just drive into Fenway and find some hot dog vender so the two of you can have a good conversation where no one can understand you. Then you two can have good laugh over my accent.

Me: [laughing] You said hot dog VENDAH! You said VENDAH! [laughing] [laughing]

Dial Tone

Me: [laughing] [laughing] [laughing]

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