April 11th, 2012
It happened. Today on this very day as I sat hunched over in my little writing mole hole my cell phone rang. Huh. Weird area code. Chicago. Who do I know in Chicago? Frank Nitti? Al Capone? Johnny Torrio? All sleeping with the fishes. Nuthin’ ta worry about, boychick.
So I answer. ”Hello,” said a lovely girlish voice, “my name is – (I FORGET BECAUSE I BLACK OUT) – from Harpo Studios.”
“Harpo Studios?” I squeak. ”You mean …. (invoking the name of the Messiah) Oprah?”
“Yes, yes, that was me … I’m the one from the fucked up family! Tell me which river to sell it down.”
She wants to know all about my childhood and my relationship with my mother and why we went to therapy together (don’t worry mom, I didn’t tell ‘em about the ex-con) and then she asks me how I feel about my mom now.
My mom and I are as good as on Oprah’s next show. I can feel it like a coachman waiting to help me into the carriage to prestige and magnificence.
“I’m two people when it comes to my mom,” I say. ”First I’m Kathy’s daughter. The one who is angry my mom was distracted by the monkey on her back — which is to say, men — while I was growing up. The second person is just Shannon, a grown-up who sees Kathy as not her mother, but a fellow traveler through life. A friend. And Shannon admires Kathy because Kathy’s mom was married three times and was distracted by men. And Kathy’s dad was overly critical and shaming. And Kathy survived one particularly nasty marriage to later nurse the love of her life – her last husband – for six years after he’d had a massive stroke. I could never do what she did.”
The woman at Harpo is silent. Listening deeply.
“Some days I’m still the angry little girl, but more often than not I’m the second person who admires my mom.”
“Wow, that’s really great,” says the Harpo woman. ”I’m so inspired by you.”
“Thanks,” I say, Shannon the Munificent.
“We’re looking for women who still have real issues with their mothers … and you’re not one of them … but it was great to hear your story.”
The Harpo lady bids me farewell. I try to stall as she’s my last slender thread to Oprah; the bastion of goodness and beneficence. Alas, the Harpo lady hangs up.
When I hang up I’m not sure whether to cry from disappointment or to cry for joy.
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