Addition to “Peaches On Beaches” scene:
Late one Friday night in mid-May, 2009, Thea and Renee are sitting at the kitchen table; Renee’s had a couple drinks, and the two are discussing the “new-wave-punk” band that Thea’s father played in, back in the eighties, and Renee says:
You want to know your father’s deep dark secrets? You want to bribe him for a new MacBook, here you go, she said, getting up and then returning a minute later with her PC.
Wait, I said. Before you open the dirty closet door?
Can I have a drink, Mom?
Oh, what the hell. In fact, make it two, she said, pushing her glass toward me, and opening her computer. I got up and made us two drinks, and then returned to the table, careful not to spill.
Cheers, she said, raising her glass.
Cheers, I said, and we touched glasses.
You know they used to do this cover of “Sex Dwarf,” she said, staring at the lit screen, and I just looked at her. The song, “Sex Dwarf”? Soft Cell?
Ohmygod, no, please, Mom, I said, not knowing what she was talking about, only that it was bad. Really bad.
Thea. You’ve never heard “Sex Dwarf”?
No . . . no, I’m not kidding . . . please . . . I said, hiding my face in my hands, thinking, Ohmygod, it’s going to be worse than I even imagined.
It was your dad’s idea, she said, and then I just fell on the table, screeching in horror. It was his little way of getting back at his mother. One of many ways, but one of the more creative, I have to say, she said, finishing her drink. Mom drinks Salty Dogs: vodka and grapefruit on ice with rock salt on the rim.
But you know Grandma has that thing about dwarfs, little people, I said, using the proper term.
Yes, I know: she can’t be in the same room with them.
But I don’t think she’s ever been in the same room with a little person, I said.
No, she can’t . . . same room? She can’t even watch one on TV without having to leave the room, Mom said, falling to her side, in the chair.
I know! It’s so weird. Like she’s terrified of little people.
Strange, she said. Damn strange, if you ask me.
But you want to hear something really strange?
Stranger than fearing little people? Let’s hear it, she said, taking a sip, even though it was only ice.
Well, the really strange part is that she always called vaginas little miss or little missy.
That’s right, that’s right, Mom said, remembering, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand. I forgot about that, she said.
Like, I’ll never forget this one time, that summer I spent two weeks with her, remember? And Grandma told me, Always remember to keep your Little Miss nice and clean, and be sure to dress her in fresh undies every day, just in case—.
There’s an accident, and you’re hit by a car, and the paramedics have to cut your clothes off—.
Not bad advice, really, despite the deranged logic, she said, letting out this heavy sigh.
Ohmygod, I never realized quite how strange that all was, I said.
I did. I was married to her son for thirteen years. Trust me, you don’t want to know the advice she gave me on my wedding night—I still have bad dreams about that heart-to-heart.
Ohmygod . . . I said, I so wish I’d told Cam that, about Little Missy, I said, suddenly wishing—.
Yes, well, she said, sitting up and leaning forward. I imagine you told him enough, she said, smiling, calling me out.
That was good . . . I said. And I admitted it: she had her moments.
Thea, you forget I’ve still got a few cards up my sleeve.
Yeah, well. I’ll tell Cam that joke, instead, when he comes back, I said, and then she just looked at me, suddenly quiet. He’s still alive, Mom. I know he is, I said, and then she leaned across the table, and grabbed both hand, smiling.
Drink up, she said, letting go, sitting back and cocking her chin at my drink: I’m ordering another round.
Oh, so now you’re encouraging me to drink?
Yes, she said, holding up her glass for me. It was her fourth, but I wasn’t counting. Not then, I wasn’t, finishing my drink and joining my own mother for another round.
Shall we toast? she said, smiling as I delivered her drink.
A new MacBook, of course, she said, raising her glass.
Make it two, I said, and we toasted. Who knew it could be so much fun getting plastered with your mom?
Note: I have the utmost respect for little people and Werner Herzog.