I'm about to board a plane. I bet a lot of people who write for this blog write entries from airport gates. I'm going to Boston where I will kick off my book and reading tour. Tonight I'm going to stay at my parents' house, the house I lived in from birth until when I went to college. This visit ought to be something else. My parents are great people. I love them to death, but they're a little bit nuts. I know, they all are. Actually, since I now have a kid, I should say, "We all are." (Today is my son's birthday and my wedding anniversary. And I'm going out on the road. Good timing, huh? Happy Birthday, Sonny Boy. Happy Anniversary, Darling.)
Anyway, back to my parents being a little crazy. I called them today so my mother could bless me in absentia. She carries a small bottle of holy water with her all the time. She has six kids and numerous grandkids and she blesses all of us. When the small bottle of holy water gets low, she fills it from the two liter soda bottle of holy water she has in her room. I'm not making this up. I'm not really knocking it too hard since I do, without fail, call her to be blessed prior to boarding all flights. If she blesses me in person, she adds a (nice) touch of holy oil — the Sign of the Cross on my forehead. I hate to fly. I'll take any and all blessings.
Today when I called my folks I had to track them down on their cell phone. (They're retired. They do things.) When I got hold of them my mother she said they were at the New England Patriots.
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"I mean we're at the Patriots. We're at the Patriots training camp."
"You're joking," I said.
"No, I'm not. Susan got us tickets from Jim's uncle's partner's ear, nose, and throat guy. You met him at the cookout. They called him Frenchie?"
"I wasn't at that cookout, Ma."
"Yes, you were," she insists. I can hear someone blow a whistle. My folks must be close to the action. "What, are you right down on the field?" I asked.
"Great, huh? They're just finishing up, and then there's a VIP lunch." My mother loves being a VIP at anything. If a local muffler shop is running a VIP special, she'll go. She hasn't been behind the wheel of a car in 25 years. I don't really like football. It's not that I actively do not like it. The sport itself just doesn't speak to me. Not like baseball or bike racing of all kinds. My parents love football.
"Wow," I said. "A VIP lunch. Is Brady going to be there?" He's one of the only Patriot names I know.
"Is the coach? What's-his-face?"
"No. None of the players or coaches."
"Well, if none of the players or coaches are going to be there, who are the VIPs?"
"What are you, some kind of ninny?" my mother asks. "Your father and I and all of the other retired people. We're the VIPs, numb nut." She speaks away from the phone, to my father. "Bob, where did we ever get this son?"
I can hear my father saying, "What did you say?" He's deaf as a corpse in one ear.
"Never mind," my mother says to him.
"What?" he asks, agitated.
"Nothing. Nothing," she says. "Just watch the practice."
"Look, Ma," I say, "I have to split and catch a plane."
"What's 'split' mean?"
"It means I have to go. I have to go."
"Wait, before you do." She blesses me over the phone. "Okay now, if your father and I are not there when you get home—"
"What do you mean, not home? Where are you going?" I ask incredulously.
"Foxwoods." Foxwoods is a casino where my mother sometimes plays the slots while my father sits and reads the newspaper. They eat at the buffet. They like it.
"Jesus, Ma, don't lose my inheritance at the casino."
"You already got that. You know I like to give with a warm hand," she says. She continues, "If we're not there when you get home, the key is hidden in the usual place."
"Ma, where is the usual place?"
"You know where it is." I know she doesn't want to mention the hiding place using a cell phone for fear of someone will intercept the message, go to their house, find the key and break in.
"Ma, I don't know the usual place." I really don't. "Will you please just tell me?"
"Not on a cell phone," she says.
I hear my father say emphatically, "Not on a cell phone."
"Ma, I don't remember where you hide the key. I'm going to be locked out."
"Well then use that time to remember the hiding place," she says.
"What if I have to go to pee?" That one usually gets her.
"Go in the yard," she says.
"Not in the yard," my father yells.
"Quiet, Bob," she says to my father. Then to me, "Your father says you don't go in the yard."