Never Write About Your Mother

Cal sat at the kitchen table of his mother’s home and had a coffee with her.

“What do you want to talk about today?” Cal said happily.

“Writing is stupid,” Betty said. “Writers are weirdos, perverts, Bohemians, and queers and I don’t like what you write.”

“Mom,” Cal said. “You read all the time and you like to read. There are some writers you don’t ever miss reading.”

“Yeah,” Betty said. “But you ain’t like them.”

“How so,” Betty said.

“You ain’t never had a brain in your head,” Betty said. “And I know some of your so-called characters are based on me and my family. You make us all look like a bunch of weirdos, perverts, Bohemians, and queers.”

“Mom I write about people,” Cal said. “There are people I used to work with who swear I’m writing about them, but I don‘t. I create characters. It‘s coincidence they have the same traits as people I know. All of us have common traits that show up as characters in novels. My friends know that now.”

“You can’t leave anybody alone,” Betty said. “It’s no wonder you don’t have any friends.”

“I got plenty of friends,” Cal said.

“Yeah,” Betty said. “But they’re all weirdos, perverts, Bohemians, and queers.”

“None of them are what you say they are,” Cal said.

“I just wished you never wrote about me,” Betty said.

“Mom,” Cal said. “Whatever I wrote about you has always been flattering.”

“And it’s been a bunch of horse hockey,” Betty said. “It’s either not true or all made up.”

“Remember the story I wrote about the little boy who was comforted by his mother’s attention to him while he was ill; how she sacrificed, how she cried, how she prayed, and walked through a blizzard to make it to the drugstore to get medicine? That was about you!”

“Yeah,’ Betty said. “But I hated every minute of it.”

“But, it’s how I felt, Mom,” Cal said.

“Who gives a crap about how you felt?” Betty said. “Does it always have to be about you?”

“I don’t get it, Mom,” Cal said. “If I have you in mind when I write, it’s always positive, kind, loving, generous, caring, and compassionate.”

“That’s it,” Betty said. “I ain’t none of those things, never have been and never will be.”

“To me you are,” Cal said.

“I don’t like anything you write,” Betty said. “It’s all stupid. I’d rather read Stephen King, James Joyce, or E. L. James, at least they make sense.”

“Well, they’re good writers,” Cal said. “Well, two of them are.”

“I hate it when I think you write about me,” Betty said. “I can’t live up to your writing.”

“Maybe I can’t live up to your reading,” Cal said.

“Finally some truth,” Betty said. “You just can’t write.”

“Mom, honestly,” Cal said. “Have I ever been able to do anything that lived up to your approval?”

“No!” Betty said. “You could have been a doctor or lawyer.”

“But if I became a doctor,” Cal said. “It would have been the wrong kind.”

“I guess we’ll never know, will we?” Betty said sarcastically.

“If I was a lawyer,” Cal said. “You would not have been happy with that.”

“You would have defended weirdos, perverts, Bohemians, and queers.”

“I’m sorry you feel that way, Mom,” Cal said.

“I’m not,” Betty said defiantly. “You’ve been a disappointment every step of the way. I keep holding out hope for you. You can leave now. I got some reading to catch up on – by real writers.”

“By the way, Mom,” Cal said as he opened the backdoor, “I don’t know any weirdos, perverts, or Bohemians, but the queer I write about is definitely your brother, Uncle Steve.”

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