September 15, 2007

For everything, there is a season

Several years ago, Alice decided to stop spending Christmas with her mother because Mom drank too much. One Christmas eve in particular, Alice and Mom went out for dinner, where the wine was poured very freely, and the service (at a Posh Hotel that used Frette linen) was abominable. By the time we got to dessert, Mom had taken it upon herself to chase down the waiter in the kitchen, to score our sweets and coffee.

When the check arrived, Mom decided to retabulate the sums, so she took the ballpoint pen and wrote down all the figures from the check on the tablecloth. To complete her work, she wrote "FUCK," with a flourish, on the once virgin-white linen.

There was no where for Alice to hide, and no way for Alice to stop her. That was the last holiday meal Alice had with her. Alice has subsequently made other out-of-town plans to save what she can of holiday joy.

However... Mom recently had one of her long-time Closest Friends stay with her for 10 days, and Close Friend drove Mom nuts because CF wanted to start drinking at 4 pm, and was ready for dinner by 6 pm, and in bed, probably passed out, a couple of hours later.

Mom prefers to wait until 7 to drink -- CF loses it somewhere near the end of martini # 3 and the beginning of martini #4 -- and Mom, well, Alice can never be certain when she has left the building, but she weighs 92 pounds, so she's only good for two drinks (Dewars on the rocks, with water, promptly.)

Alice had dinner with Mom and CF one night, and it appeared that CF was going to pass out in the soup, and her conversation wasn't making much sense. Still, when Mom bitched to Alice about it, Alice couldn't help telling her that she got like that, sometimes. Until that exchange, the Christmas-from-hell incident had completely escaped Mom, who never has a clue when she has blacked out. Evidently, however, there is a season for all things. This was Alice's for Truth to Mother about Christmas past.

Alice would prefer it if Mom passed out; then the line of demarcation would be clean. Blackouts, on the other hand, come and go. You can never tell what is real, and what will be a lost memory by morning. Is is any wonder Alice lives in Wonderland? It is the minefield in which she grew up, one which those in less alcoholic families find quite disturbing, but which pass as S.O.P. chez Alice.

For Alice, Truth to Mom was simply one of of the most recent entries into Mom's blackout hit parade, one that began when Alice was 20, in Paris, and Mom inquired one morning, "who poured me into a cab last night?" (The night before, Mom had turned all the do-not-disturb signs on the hotel floor to the please-make-up room side, then stood in her underwear in a picture window in front of the Rue de Rivoli.) That was the dawning of a new age for Alice, the one in which under the influence coincided with leaving the building.

Since CF presented such a golden opportunity for Alice to illuminate Mom's own behavior in a mirror she could see, it was, indeed, Alice's moment.

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4 Comments:

Anonymous Teresa said...

Brave girl. With what sort of reaction was honesty met?

12:31 PM  
Blogger alice, uptown said...

With some surprise, as if she couldn't imagine behaving in such a way. As it happens, my childhood memories and my mom's are mutually exclusive.

I didn't go into the top 10, which includes the time she decided to nap on her mink coat in the ladies' room after my cousin's wedding, and the time my brother and I found she'd hidden her good jewelry in my closet, and she hadn't even noticed it had gone missing.

I inherited reality-impairment from her.

5:47 PM  
Anonymous Teresa said...

What's my mother's excuse? The only alcohol that passes her lips is the trace tequila in the kind of cheap, sweet-and-sour-mix-laden margaritas one can order by the pitcher in chain Mexican restaurants.

If said individual weren't your mother, a lot of what she does might be really funny! (The flipping of hotel door cards made me laugh out loud.)

7:53 PM  
Blogger the only daughter said...

When mom drank we rarely went out to eat. She hasn't for years now, yet every time I find myself in a restaurant with her--I wish I'd remembered what happened the previous time. Can't say never, because I might. But I do wish I wouldn't.

4:25 PM  

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