If I sounded tense yesterday it was because I was taking my mother to Artpark.
For our out-of-towners: Artpark is an outdoor performance venue in Lewiston, N.Y., roughly 1,500 miles from Buffalo. OK, seriously, it is only about 40 miles or something. I don't know. But it feels like forever.
Taking your mother anywhere is not easy. My mother is great and especially compared with what I was used to in California with Leonard Pennario, she is the picture of health. But everything is a challenge. We were packing a picnic and I have to find foods she likes because she is a picky eater, especially when it comes to vegetables. I am omniverous. Clearly I did not inherit her genes.
Then we get there and it is raining. Well, it was raining when we left, this rain that, I might add, was never predicted by our unethical weather forecasters. (That is a word Pennario loves, unethical -- always used to describe someone or something that torques you off.) There is this shelter with tables but they all look filled. I was asking myself what ailed myself. I had just had this confidence the rain would stop. Now I am stuck and my mom is saying, "Oh, dear."
She is also fussing because she forgot her lipstick and I didn't have any, and also I brought just one umbrella. "Mom, you take it," I said. "I don't care what happens to me." It reminded me of this situation last winter in California when it began raining hard, this cold rain, and I took off my jacket and threw it over Leonard. Even though all I had on underneath was this little nothing. You get to the point that you don't care.
Lastnight I got so mad at the rain that when I ran to the box office, I said a prayer. Well, it wasn't a very good prayer. The actual wording, I am afraid, was "God, thanks a heap." Isn't that awful? But God was so merciful to me. The rain cleared up plus we found a table underneath the shelter just in case it started again.
Gratefully I gulped a glass and a half of red wine.
But meanwhile another problem presented itself: I was supposed to review the concert for the paper and the Artpark people were supposed to let me do this backstage at this computer they have. I have emails to prove this. But no one seemed to know anything about that. Well, no biggie, I thought. I can go back home after the concert, I thought. It'll end early enough. I can make it. I have done that before and I can do it again.
However, I did not anticipate what happened, which was the perfect storm. At intermission I spotted my brother Tony. I said, "Look, Mom, there's Tony. Let's catch up with him, and he can give you a ride home and then I can run directly home and write my review."
And lo, it was done. And Tony says OK. But Mom waits until we're in our seats afterward to tell me she doesn't want Tony to drive her home. His car is all junked up and there is nowhere for her to put her feet and besides she is afraid he will detour to Smokin' Joe's to buy gas. Mom said Tony once detoured to Smokin' Joe's even though it was five miles out of their way.
So I say, "OK, Mom, I will bring you home."
But then I can't leave the concert early! I have created the perfect storm! We have to find Tony otherwise he would wait for my mom forever under the sign saying Aisle 3, because that is where she told him to meet her before deciding she did not want to ride with him. I was stuck. I was so stuck. Then after this encore ended it took us forever to find Tony because as usual he took his time, he was off talking to someone.
Then Tony trails us to our car and he started singing this thing by Bernstein really loudly and I was so stressed that I told him to shut up. This was an awful night. First I tell God thanks a heap and then I yell at my brother who has no idea what he did to me. Just a couple of months ago this Jesuit priest and I had it out in the confessional at St. Michael's about exactly this kind of thing. I was supposed to work on this. I was supposed to get better. And now listen to me.
Back to my trip home. I was victimized by endless, unethical Artpark traffic, couldn't get out of the park, couldn't even call the office (I tried but for some reason my unethical cell phone just went "beep, beep, beep"). All the way home it rained -- dark rain, wipers on high. Driving home from Artpark is awful. You think you are making good time and then you realize you have not even crossed Grand Island. I finally got home at exactly my deadline. I phoned the office, begged them to give me 15 more minutes. Then I wrote it up and got it in. I have done this before in extreme situations. I pride myself on being a pro.
But what a night! Please, God, next time I bring my mom anywhere, let things go better.
I promise not to say thanks a heap.