Tea and Sympathy
Abbey’s school tactfully ignored any religious or denominational holiday, but relished in celebrating every other event, whether it be Arbor Day, Children’s Dental Month, Love Your Pet Day, or in today’s case, Mother’s Day.
The all-purpose room had vomited pink and purple everywhere, from napkins and cups to crepe paper streamers and paper hearts hand-made by the kids. Each place setting consisted of a white doily mat with our specific daughters’ or sons’ hands blotted on them in pink or purple, respectively. The teachers supervised coffee and tea service, and the children were in charge of bringing each mom tiny teacakes and cookies.
It was all very sweet, literally and figuratively.
Glancing around the room, one could observe all the species of Lauder Lake women in their natural, or unnatural, habitat. There was the Commuter Mom, dressed to the nines in corporate casual chic, who no doubt would jump on the 1:15 back to the office after the tea was through. Then there were the several breeds of Stay-at-Home Moms, some in their designer sweat suits and too much jewelry to realistically sweat in.
Others were like mall-refugees, armored in Gap cotton and going through withdrawals for their daily food court visit. Many were crunchy granola types who just lived for this type of bonding experience and couldn’t drive their Priuses and Subarus fast enough to get here. Marissa and I were in no hurry to classify ourselves or identify with any of them.
The first thing Marissa did upon entering the room was to switch a few doilies around so that we could sit next to one another. I stuck with the less controversial task of fetching us coffee. My best friend was probably every teacher’s nightmare, upsetting their orderly little universe. But it was either that or get stuck talking to the mom of the McGreavy twins (Gucci jogging ensemble), who seemed to think that every pre-school milestone was a competition in which her daughters had to place first. Once, when someone commented on how long and lush Abbey’s eyelashes were, this woman actually proceeded to argue that her Monica’s lashes were at least a good centimeter longer, and her Veronica’s had to be twice as thick. I would’ve told her to kiss my lilywhite ass at the time, if Marissa hadn’t already done so.
“Tire fixed?” she asked, copping a seat in a kid-size chair next to me.
“Yeah. I should send Grant the bill.”
The kids were descending with sugary goodies for us, so we stopped talking about it. Abbey gave me a big hug and told me she had picked out the ‘most bestest cookie’ for me, which made my day. “Speaking of…look who else is at our table.” Aaron’s smudgy little hand-print was on the doily at the empty seat next to mine, indicating that Grant’s ‘baby mama’ would soon be joining us.
“Should I switch it?” Marissa offered.
“Nah, don’t bother. What the heck is her name again?”
“Beats me.” We nibbled on our cookies and sipped coffee as the kids chattered and drank milk from purple plastic cups. Aaron’s mom finally slipped in, right before the kids were about to assemble up in front of the room for a Mother’s Day song.
“Shoot, did I miss it all?” she asked in a quiet, breathy and genuine Southern accent. “Traffic was the dickens, I declare.”
“Oh, Marone.” Marissa had zero tolerance for anyone south of the Mason-Dixon line, and the blonde hair and bouncy boobs on this woman probably didn’t help matters any.
“No,” I supplied, “You can probably still help yourself to coffee and stuff. The kids are getting ready to sing.”
No sense in being standoffish with her. After all, I couldn’t fault her for falling into Grant’s sex trap. She probably hadn’t been much older than I had been when I was duped into believing he was all that and a bag of chips. I almost admired her for sticking around and raising his child amid the speculation and talk of a small town.
Then again, she may have suffered a worse fate had she gone back to whatever little town down South she had called home.
She brought back a cup of tea to the table and blew on it as we awkwardly sat there, waiting for our kids to distract us. “You’re Katrina, right? Grant’s Katrina?”
I wondered how many times in my life I was going to have to explain the nature and duration of my relationship in the past with this man who was of no consequence to my present or future. I had had to discuss it twice in two days and was pretty goddamn sick of it.
Marissa came to my rescue. “We all went to school together. A long time ago. Long.” She stressed. “So long ago. Ancient history.”
“My major was Ancient History,” she blurted. “Well, it was. I didn’t finish school. Maybe someday, when Aaron’s older. It’s hard now, being single. You must know, since your little girl’s dad passed, right?” Her little Cupid mouth pursed in sympathy.
This really wasn’t what I wanted to be talking about. Not today, not with Abbey about to sing her heart out. Not with this woman who bore Satan’s spawn.
Holy crap. That was it.
Now that I had the connection in my brain between this girl and the horror movie that shared her name, I knew I would never forget it again.
I channeled my attention back to Abbey and the other kids, who were singing and miming as Miss Carly accompanied them on piano. Abbey was right up front, singing loud and proud. As I pulled out my phone to capture a picture of her, a text message caught my eye.
Wednesday…cannot wait. But I know I have to!
I almost forgot: Happy Mother’s Day.