Thursday, July 8, 2010

No Bragging Zone

I'm lost in a haze of indecision, the kind that descends upon me only when I'm at the mall, gift-shopping for others, when I hear the dreaded call from across the clothing rack:  "Billy Schneider's mother!"  This sort of shout-out is never good, people.  This is someone who doesn't know my name, and there's a 100 percent chance, I don't know hers.  This will be a long conversation, one that goes something like this: 

"Billy Schneider's mother!  How are you?"  Blank stare from me.  "Fine." "It's me!  Shirley Baum,  Larry's mom."  Here I reach into the dark recesses of my brain, and try to access the bar mitzvah list from nearly 10 years ago.  Was Larry Baum invited?  "Oh, hi," I say.  Shirley instructs her very old mother to sit down and relax.  This may take awhile.  "How is Larry?" I ask with plastered smile.  "Are you kidding?  He's fantastic.  Just graduated.  Got a Fullbright.  He's in Kleptakistan for the year."  "Kleptakistan?  Wow."  Wow is my go-to response.  I will utter it, with varying degrees of sincerity, at least fourteen times in the next few minutes.  "What's Billy up to?"  I draw a blank.  Do I make stuff up, or be honest?  Do I say, "I think he's up.  He likes to sleep in."  I compromise.  "He's good.  Just graduated.  He's up for an internship."  From Shirley's eye-roll, I detect she's unimpressed.  But even in my haze, I can handle Shirley.  I've been handling Shirleys throughout my tenure as a mom.  Shirleys start bragging when their kids are in utero.  Me?  Not so much.  I spent nine months throwing up, which may explain why, to this day, I remain a private kveller.  If I didn't brag about my kid's first steps, his first potty poop, his first God-only-knows-what, I'm not about to start now. 

Yet Shirley goes on and on about Larry and his accomplishments, while I think of ways to cut her off at the pass.  I know I'm in trouble when she starts bragging about other people's kids.  "Oh, and you heard about Mindy?"  Mindy.  Who's Mindy?  "She just got a job in D.C." "Wow."  "You heard what happened to Angela?"  Angela?  Kill. Me.  Now.  "Uh, no."  "Well, Angela's fine.  It's her mother.  She's not talking to her.  They haven't talked in four months."  "Wow."  "Turns out, Angela's mother has been having an affair with one of the golf pros at the club."  "Wow."  "I know, right?"  Shirley's mother starts to snore, lightly.  I see my opening, and I take it. "I'm trying to find a gift for my friend, so..."  Even Shirley the Bragger knows how hard it is to gift-shop for others.  She touches my arm, sympathetically.  "Good luck."  "Thanks."  "Say hi to Billy."  "Say hi to Adam."  "Larry."  "Larry!  Right.  Say hi to him, too."


  1. This is screamingly hilarious Carol! Very well done!