On this blog I’ve mentioned my mom’s pesky habit of dumping her unwanted crap on me. She has done this through a combination of smooth talking and brute force.
This is why I own a worthless statue of Don Quixote, a pair of worthless West German beer steins, and a terrible watercolor painting of a ten-speed bike.
And then there is the charcoal chimp. I made this drawing when I was 10. Upon completion, I named him Bonzo.
I’m not sure why I decided to draw a chimp. Maybe I liked the pensive expression on his face. Maybe he seemed easy to draw. I’m not sure.
What I am sure of is that I hate chimps. Unlike other primates—like orangutans or silverback gorillas—chimps are mean. They’ll rip your face off just as soon as look at you. Curious George was a chimp, I believe, and he was an agent of chaos wherever he went. If I had any influence in the Curious George universe, I would’ve euthanized the chimp and sentenced The Man in the Yellow Hat to 30 years of hard labor.
But I digress. The point is, I drew Bonzo even though I hate chimps and gave Bonzo to Mom even though she doesn’t like chimps either. But Mom’s opinion on chimps doesn’t matter; according to an ironclad unwritten law, all moms are supposed to hang onto every piece of art crap their children make like it’s a little treasure. And they are supposed to continue doing this for the rest of their lives.
These are the rules, people. I don’t make them, I just follow them.
But Mom flipped the script on me last fall. I invited her to my house and she brought Bonzo with her. Then she said something along the lines of, “If you don’t want it, get rid of it, but it’s not going back home with me.”
It was the ultimate Mom betrayal.
A few months later Christmas arrived. Mom gave my son, Alex, tickets to a Devils game. And it was through her generosity, I decided to give a Christmas gift to myself.
Long story short, as Mom and Alex were shouting themselves hoarse at a hockey game, I let myself into Mom’s condo, artfully hung Bonzo in the guest bedroom, and took my leave.
Mom doesn’t spend much time in the guest bedroom, so she didn’t notice Bonzo for a while.
About a week later I got the call.
Mom dispensed with the pleasantries. There was no “Hello.” No “What’s new?” No “Do you have a minute to talk?”
Instead, the first words out of her mouth was a hard edged, “Oh, so that’s how it’s gonna be, huh?”
And I laughed for the next three days.
But my laughter was masking my fear. I know my mother. I know her tone. I had fired an opening salvo in the Crap Wars, and I would pay for my audacity.
The retaliation has not happened yet, but I know it’s coming. Germans are a cold people, and everyone knows that that is the best way to dispense revenge.
I need to set up defenses. Trenches. Maginot lines.
But I know it won’t matter.
A Blitzkrieg of crap will soon arrive on my doorstep. I see no way to prevent it.
Mom, come hell or high water, will make a monkey out of me.