1991: Back Together Again

The glorious summer doesn’t last long. Dad is bored again.

We hop in the old red and white Malibu to pick my mother up from the airport. She’s beaming. I note every detail of her outfit: a white sleeveless button down shirt and navy blue and white polka dot skirt with black pumps.

Dad asks, “Deborah, how was your flight?”

“Oh it was great. I love to fly anyways, always did.”

Jesus, are we really going to put her in this old jalopy? Al Bundy’s Dodge isn’t this bad.

 As we ride down the Northway, mom rolls her window down and sticks her head out into the stiff breeze.

Annoyed, dad says, “Deborah, what’s a matter? Are you sick?”

“No Tommy. I’m fine, I can just smell your exhaust and I don’t want to get a headache.”

Shit. She is too good for us! I give this two weeks tops.

 When we arrive at the apartment, mom surveys the place. This takes roughly a minute.

“Tommy, there’s only one bedroom! And why are all of Jenny Penny’s toys in there?”

Because! That’s my bedroom! My first bedroom in my life!

 “Well, Deborah, I gave the bedroom to Jenny. She’s our daughter and I thought she should have it. I just sleep out here on the couch.”

Yeah, and we’re happy this way too!

 “Well, Tommy, we can’t sleep on the couch. We’re adults, we need the bedroom. Jenny will have to sleep on the couch for now.”

Dad shoots me a glance to say, I’m sorry. My hands are tied.

I immediately retrieve my bubblegum pink Barbie corvette from the bedroom. Malibu Barbie is driving and Ken is in the passenger seat. Ken is so dorky looking. Why do I even let him sit near Barbie?

I sit on the couch. My mother hasn’t stopped talking since she got here, but not one word to me.

Who gives a shit if they steal my bedroom. I’ll just watch HBO all night on the couch, and eat potato chips.

The next day, my mother tilts her head out the car window like a permanent fixture. I can see that Dad is fuming.

“Debbie, is the smell really that bad? I can’t even smell anything. I’m afraid you’ll get hurt with your head out the window like that.”

Her heads pops back in long enough to pronounce, “Tommy, we need a new car. This is ridiculous. I can’t stand these fumes!”

“Well, I don’t know about my credit.”

“What about someone in your family? Could someone cosign for us? What about your brother, George?”

“George?! Ha! My bastard brother is so greedy, he’d sell one of his own children for five dollars.”

“I’m serious, Tommy. Let’s go ask him.”

Uncle George is no pushover. He makes my mother give him a grand for this favor.

As we back out of Uncle George’s country house, Mom proclaims, “I can’t believe your brother, Thomas. Taking my money like that. What kind of family is he? And his wife! She couldn’t give us a cup of coffee. I mean, come on! That’s fucking ridiculous. I was ready to go and buy my own coffee and say ‘here, brew this for me.’”

“That’s my no-good brother for you!”

Later that day, we pick up the keys to our new silver 1989 Oldsmobile. It’s the first car we ever bought from a dealer. Usually we walk everywhere until Dad finds someone that will give us a car they were about to scrap for $100.

The new Olds has plush grey interior and burled wood details. There are silver buttons that make the windows go up and down automatically, and cold air vents for summertime.

Even in the back seat, I’m a princess in this car.