Mom: Oh, I packed up a bunch of your pants.
Me: (aware it’s Mother’s Day) What kind of pants?
Mom: Oh, nice, nice pants. Silky dress pants.
Me: Mom, no. I appreciate it but nobody wears those out here. Not even for professional jobs. It’s all twill, denim, knits.
Mom: You’re gonna make me open that box? Think of all the money I wasted on tape.
Me: Think of all the shipping money of yours I’ll waste when I drop them off at Goodwill. Besides, you said you wanted to ship this out for my birthday. I only want things I can and will wear.
Mom: Oh…you can’t wear them?
Me: No one wears those anymore.
Mom: Well, you can. Why can’t you?
Me: (thinking tactfully & quickly) You get rain on them and they just look horrible. You get a splash of mud on them then spot cleaning them makes them look worse.
Mom: OK. I guess but, why can’t you wear them?
Me: Think of all the money you’ll have wasted on shipping when I just drop them off at Goodwill! Wouldn’t you rather send me things I’ll actually use?
Mom: Well, if that’s what you want.
Fifteen minutes later it was revealed I had an astonishing nine pairs of Kenneth Cole black & charcoal “dress pants” from when I was obediently serving corporate America. Among the ruins of Kenneth Cole were found to be several favorite tee shirts. A patrol-style military cap in camo of which I was once fond. When I rode a bike, of course. We continued going through my things. She patiently read the labels off to me. Oh, there were an additional two pairs of chinos, two pairs of twill, and two pairs of jeans. Things I will wear.
Mom: I forgot how many clothes you had. Why, why’d you have so many clothes?
Me: The vintage shop, remember? You worked there too…
Mom: You put me to work, yes. But I had fun.
Me: Is there a beige sweatshirt, with brown horizontal stripes?
Mom: What — what’s a sweatshirt?
Me: It’s way handier in Portland than silky dress pants.
Mom: Ha. No, what do you mean by sweatshirt?
Me: (thinking) Oh, you know those ugly green things people wear? The ugly green shirts with the Eagles logo on them.
Mom: Ewww! (and with real disgust) I hate those, hate those. You don’t have anything like that. You’d never.
Me: No, of course not. This one in particular is hardly an Eagles sweatshirt. It’s from the 1970s and the label is in French.
Mom: Yeah, that’s more like you. So, you sure you don’t want any of those silky dress pants? They’re made so nice!
I once again objected to the silky dress pants. I requested one particularly ancient sweater in a hideous knit of blues. Amazingly, a bathing suit and a few pairs of underwear were found.
Mom: One pair looks broken.
Mom: The back is open…just straps. Andrew Christian is the name on them.
Me: Oh, yes send those.
Mom: They’re broken.
Me: They were very expensive. Just send them.
Mom: No dress pants but expensive broken underwear?
Me: (sipping coffee and almost choking) It’s a jockstrap mother.
Mom: Oh. (pausing) OK. (changing subjects) There’s bathing suits.
Me: A bathing suit? Wow. I thought I packed them all up to Florida. If it says Ocean City, NJ on it please…please toss.
Mom: Well, there’s a gold and black one. I think it has the price tag on it. The tag looks old. Like, faded.
Me: Oh, that might be vintage. Yes, please send that.
Mom: You want someone’s old bathing suit?
Me: I don’t think it’s ever been worn.
Mom: How do you know that?
Me: The price tag looks faded you said. So, I doubt they were ever worn.
Mom: Oh, right right. OK. Ah, here. There is a pair which says Ocean City, NJ on it.
Me: Yeah, don’t send that. That was an emergency buy one random August. Heather and I went down to see her mom at the shore.
Mom: They’re cute.
Me: Well, you know…maybe do send those. Maybe they’re ironic enough for the West Coast.
Mom: Ironic, how?
Me: New Jersey. Everything about New Jersey is ironic.
That was our Mother’s Day. She has a surprise on the way to her. I was just unable to send it prior to the actual holiday. We spoke for an hour. Going through my clothes. Talking about Mother’s Days when she came to New York, or I made her day special at home in Philly. It was nicer, I think, than sending a bunch of balloons.
Mom: (many years ago) And never send me balloons. They’re ugly. (emphatically again) They’re ugly. Never send me balloons.