“Did you get your haircut?” Mom immediately asked upon greeting us at her front door.
She didn’t say a word. No, “It’s cute.” Or, “It looks awful.” The three of us just stood there. So I left the blank, silent stillness that lingered and walked inside. She followed me.
“Just these two?” I asked referring to the suitcases next to the couch.
Instead of answering she reached out and pinched several strands of my hair together, pulling them forward, toward the ends of my eyebrows. They didn’t quite reach so she tugged on them as if this would make them longer.
“It’s shorter.” She said.
She then wetted her fingers in her mouth and with great effort slicked the strands down as far as they would go. She was trying to paste my hair to my face. Not wanting to be papier-mâchéd or rearranged in any way I backed away from Mom and grabbed one of the suitcases.
“It’s always shorter after getting it cut…that’s the point of a hair cut.” I said as I walked toward the door with her suitcase.
“Well, it’s too short.” She announced.
I turned and looked at her.
“The fascinating thing is…hair grows back…and so we continue with this ongoing process…of hair getting longer and then shorter…it occurs over a lifetime.”
Shelley grabbed the second suitcase and beat me out the door.
“Well, she cut it too short this time…and there’s no need for you to be snotty about a harmless little comment regarding your very short hair.”
How am I going to be seated on a plane next to this woman for six hours without consuming one Bloody Mary after another? Already, I needed a cigarette.
“We better get going, Mom.” I said following Shelley’s lead. “As they say…we’ve got a plane to catch.”
Mom grabbed her carry-on and purse.
“We’re going to have so much FUN!!!” She chortled.
I smiled at her.
She then all of a sudden looked concerned.
I waited as she searched her purse…and waited…and waited…
“I can’t find them!” She said.
Her words melted my impatience into hope.
Wouldn’t that be something? If we missed our plane!? And then the boat!?
…I had Mom’s elderly mind to be thankful for.
“What on earth have I done with them?” She snapped at herself.
“Don’t worry, Mom. We’ll find them.” I said, hoping we wouldn’t.
She dumped the contents from her purse onto the counter and went through her stash with utter determination.
She reminded me when I was kid…dumping my bag of Halloween candy on the living room floor. Looking for the one thing I wanted most… the edible Puka Shell Necklace.
“They’re not here!” She said.
She looked both surprised and discouraged…mostly because she realized her age had misplaced the keys, not her.
“Just take your time, Mom…I’ll go look in the bedroom.”
That’s where my edible Puka Shells would end up when missing…hiding in my brother’s bedroom. He found great pleasure in hiding anything I considered special.
Mom looked agitated.
“I wouldn’t have put them there!” She said, annoyed. “I never take my keys to the bedroom.”
The ship wouldn’t wait for us, would it? I mean, they wouldn’t heli-vac late arrivals aboard a sailing cruise ship, right? I think I have a real chance here!
Shelley walked in and looked at us.
“We better get going?” She said, grabbing the remaining suitcase.
I secretly gave her the thumbs up sign.
“Mom can’t find her keys.” I said, excitedly.
Shelley didn’t share my glee. She began helping Mom so I darted to the living room.
“Maybe they’re in here somewhere…” I said while looking under the couch and seat cushions.
If I find them first I could make sure we miss our flight. I could hide them in the freezer or the fireplace… no one would ever think to look there.
I felt as if I were five years old again on an Easter egg hunt. I’ve got to find those keys before Mom or Shelley do…
“Here they are!” Mom yelled a moment later while rattling the keys in the air.
She had a silly smile on her face.
“They were in my hand the whole time,” she confessed.
Figures. I never did have much success at Easter egg hunts. If my brother didn’t get to the eggs first, he made sure to steal mine or crush them. And I was convinced the Easter Bunny wasn’t an ordinary guy in a rabbit costume, but some kind of monster-sized rodent from Alice in Wonderland that wanted nothing more than to behead small children with its enormous buck teeth.
I smiled at Mom.
The three of us got in the car and headed for the airport. Soon, I’d be trapped on a plane and then on a boat with my mother… 200 hours of togetherness.
I prayed for a flat.