I’ve had a really bad attitude about Mountain Dew ever since I watched a PBS special about dental issues in Appalachia. So seeing my son walk into a funeral with a half-drunk MD in the back pocket of his jeans really put me around the bend. I hadn’t seen him in a couple of weeks – it was one of those periods where we kind of purposely stayed out of each other’s way.
Of course, he was late. And although he seemed to have showered, who comes to a funeral in jeans? He sat in a folding chair in front of me and put his Mountain Dew on the floor. I hissed at him. He turned around and gave me the look….the “what’s the problem, I’m innocent of everything ever, and why are you yelling at me” look. I sank back into my mortification. In my world, people still wore black to funerals, heck, in my ancient world, as a kid growing up in Michigan, I had three pairs of white gloves in my dresser drawer. Honest to God. And food at a funeral? I still feel guilty sneaking a Tic Tac in a church.
He started to reach for the MD on the floor. Damn, he’s not going to drink Mountain Dew at a funeral! I now hate this kid. I kicked his chair and decided that if he made another move, I’d clock him right in the back of the neck. Eighteen years of brush your teeth, tie your shoes, you can’t wear that to school, don’t eat with your hands, don’t talk in synagogue, don’t punch your sister back, and BE LIKE ME down the effing drain.
My friend leaned over, “Calm down, what does it matter? Nobody’s even going to know he’s related to you.” So true, I thought. Grateful. If we were the last two people in a room – me the whitest person ever and him a young Hispanic guy with wild black hair – no one would ever see any connection. And at the moment, I didn’t either. Let it be over and let’s get out of here. So I can roll my eyes and shake my head in private. And we can go back to our separate, rarely intersecting orbits where we can avoid the clashes that might make the cracks between us bigger.
Service over. Chairs rustling. Crowd toward the door. “Hey Ma!” Big hug, Mountain Dew in his hand. My son. No denying.