My mom sits in the wooden chairs outside Bodega, her long blond hair covering her face as she hunches over her iPhone. She’s wearing the red reading glasses she reluctantly bought at Kroger and squints while she texts using only her right pointer finger.
I approach her from behind, embracing her in a tight hug around her shoulders. It’s only been about a month since I last saw her, but she asked me earlier this week if she could drive the two hours from Indianapolis to get lunch. She’d told me that seeing me and my brother is her “vitamin P,” referring to Prozac.
I notice the name at the top of her iMessage conversation before she can hide her screen. Sam. She puts away her phone before turning her attention to me.
About a year ago, she and Sam were introduced by a mutual friend. They got engaged after two months of dating. Last month, she called me, crying, to say she was calling it off with him.
I knew I couldn’t get my hopes up, though. I’d gotten the same call twice before — there was no way she would actually go through with this.
“So, you’re still texting him,” I say as we sit down at our small booth inside Bodega.
I can’t stand Sam. She’d tried to hide his manipulative ways, verbal abuse and narcissistic personality throughout their relationship, but we all knew. Her best friends, kids, sisters-in-law —everyone told her to end it. But Sam could always trick her into coming back to him.
“I know, doll,” she says, sighing. “But I’ve been too dramatic with all this. I don’t think I can just cut off everything all at once.”
“Actually, you can,” I say with a sarcastic laugh. After three almost-break-ups with him, I don’t hold back.
She explains that he’s made more of an effort now that she’s expressed her concerns. Since she’d tried to end things a month ago, she can really see a change in him.
“OK, but this has happened before. You know he’s just doing it to get you back.” I ask if she’s kicked him out of the house yet.
“Well, yes,” she says. “He actually did something a little surprising yesterday.” She pauses and lowers her voice, as if he might hear us from Indianapolis.
“He put an offer on a house a block away from ours,” she nearly whispers.
I gasp, and my hand covers my mouth. “NO,” I say. She nods, looking surprised herself.
“He says if we can’t live together, he still wants to take care of me and be in my life,” she says.
“That’s stalker-ish!” I say. Her eyes scan the room and she gives me a warning look that I’ve seen countless times. She wants me to lower my voice, to not cause a scene. “That’s psychotic,” I say in a slightly quieter voice. “You need a restraining order.”
She laughs, agreeing that the whole situation is ridiculous. But she finds his purchase sweet, almost endearing.
I think it’s creepy.
“No,” I say. I’m not laughing. “We need to move immediately. You know who he reminds me of?”
“Oh gosh, doll … who?”
“Brett Kavanaugh. I couldn’t stop thinking of Sam when I watched the hearing last week.”
“Really, doll? Oh, Brett’s scummy,” she says.
My mom doesn’t pay much attention to the news, but I always try to keep her up to date, calling her often with the scoop on important things like this.
I tell her that she needs to watch it, that she’s going to freak out.
“Oh, you’ve got to show me,” she says. We head back to my house.
We lie side-by-side in the full-sized bed in my small bedroom. I put my computer on my lap and search “Brett Kavanaugh hearing highlights,” hoping that she’ll see it, too.
My mom gasps and shakes her head throughout the six-minute video. “No,” she whispers repeatedly as she watches Kavanaugh try to defend himself against sexual assault allegations before the Senate.
At one point, a senator asks Kavanaugh if his drinking has ever resulted in memory loss. “You’re asking me about blackout. I don’t know, have you?” he responds.
“Oh my god. That’s Sam,” my mom said out loud. “Look how angry he is — that’s so Sam.” She laughs, but she’s not kidding.
“Just wait until you see the SNL skit,” I tell her.
She can’t stop laughing during the cold open starring Matt Damon as Kavanaugh. Damon exaggerates Kavanaugh’s unappealing mannerisms, slamming his hands down on the table, sniffing over and over again and yelling at the cast that resembles the Senate.
My mom claps her hands together and folds over laughing. She swings her head back up and hits it against my headboard with a bang. But she still can’t stop laughing.
The video comes to an end. “Gosh, doll, that’s scary. He’s Sam. Oh, I’ve got to get out of this.”
She’s said this countless times before, but at least I’ve convinced her for the moment.