Questions and Answers

Being the aunt of three nieces and two nephews, I’d say I have a pretty good idea of the inquisitive nature of a child. As the kids grow and are exposed to new aspects of the world around them, the questions fly. They take on the traditional kids questions about the color of things. They ponder philosophy – Are my lost toys in Heaven? And ask questions that seem to have no answer (at least not to any of us) – How many licks DOES it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?

Of course, I was an inquisitive child as well. My question of choice was WHY. Why is the sky blue? Why don’t dogs meow and cats bark? Why is candy yummy but liver’s yucky? Why are boys so stinky? Why can’t school be every day? (Yep, really asked that one.)

I had no bias toward questions or who I asked. Anyone and everything was game. The grocery store clerk shed her opinion on why peas tasted gross. My teachers deflected why I wasn’t allowed to read instead of doing math. My family would all but duct tape my mouth shut so as to not have to ponder why I wasn’t a twin, didn’t have pierced ears or blue eyes.

While my family bore the brunt of me, Mom had it the worst. All day, every day, I questioned whatever popped into my tiny, annoying, little mind. In the car, in the bath, at the dinner table, in bed as she read me to sleep. I’m sure that Mom was so grateful when I started reading on my own and the questions stopped. Instead of asking multiple questions to whomever was at hand, I asked myself and went off in search of answers.

I had moved on.

My past actions came back to haunt me at 16. No, I didn’t come into close contact with younguns going through that inquisitive phase. No, I got my license.

Before you scratch your head and ponder exactly how that works, I’ll just explain. A few weeks after I received my license, Mom, Brandy and I set off to what Mom referred to as “Mindy’s Mecca”: Wal-Mart. I should have wondered why Mom volunteered to ride in the backseat. It was so out of character, but being the ditz that I am, I failed to realize it.

We drove nearly five miles as normal, chatting and listening to the radio. Then it began.

“Mindy, I think it’s time for a little payback.” My ears perked up. Oh God, what had I done?? I was driving great – my hands were at 10 and two, I kept checking my mirrors and was driving the speed limit.

“Mindy, why is the grass green? Why do girls have to sit down to pee? Why can’t I have a pet monkey? Why did Evil Kneivel’s parents name him that?” And on it went.

I wanted to crawl into a hole. Brandy’s skin glowed bright red as she shook with laughter. Mom just wouldn’t shut up.

Then it hit me.

“If you don’t stop that,” I roared, “I’m going to pull over and give you the whoopin’ of your life!”

Silence met me. Mom’s favorite threat from over 10 years earlier had come back to bite her in the butt.

In the future, when I have kids, I may just pull the same scam when they’re driving Mrs. Mindy.

Those Pearly Whites

She was giddy.

Honestly, I was happy for her, but goodness! Mom just had every piece of enamel ripped from the roof of her mouth, leaving her to resemble one of those toothless ancient crones found on humorous greeting cards. And for some reason, she was giddy.

Allen, frightened by Mom’s empty grin, took off in the opposite direction. Amused by this fear, she chased after him, literally looking like an escaped mental patient.

This entire escapade took place in October of 2001, as I tried to talk to Mom and decipher her newly formed lisp. Wouldn’t have been so bad if I hadn’t been calling long distance to speak to her for the first time in nearly a month.

In her own way, she told me about the entire procedure and how she received the “royal treatment” afterward from my older brother, Paul.

“I athked Paul to buy me thum pudthing packth when he ran to Wal-Mart for thigaretteth. I muth of pathed out before he got back. Then he lef again. I yelleth and yelleth, but he never anthwered. Tho I got up to get thum pudthing, and you know wha? Your thupid brotha bought the kind you have to make. Can you believe that?”

I simpered just what I knew she wanted to hear. She’s so cute.

The pearly whites came along two days later. Unfortunately for my chicken baby brother, the dentures were a tad too big (she had to wait for the swelling to go down before sizing the teeth).

As Mom would talk or laugh her new teeth would shoot out of her mouth. Allen wound up shrieking and covering his eyes then running into the next room.

Next, the begging would begin.

“Mom, stop! Oh God, put your teeth back in! Stop it! Please!”

Of course, I was on the phone, once again, trying to talk to Mom first, then Allen as she tormented him.

Mom’s teeth were fixed soon enough. I worried that I wouldn’t be able to actually witness Allen’s reaction to the dentures as they flew across the room for the nine hundred, eighty-sixth time. I feared I’d miss a toothless old fart chase her seventeen-year-old son around the house when I stopped in for the holidays.

My fears were put to rest when I visited over Thanksgiving.

At roughly one a.m. I finally said it. “Mom, take your teeth out.”

“Are you sure?” She grinned.

I looked at my baby brother sitting across from Mom on the couch, who shrank back as far as the arm would allow. He grudgingly consented and out they came.

My God! She aged 50 years in a matter of seconds, her cheek sinking in without the enamel to hold them out. So, of course, I laughed my butt off. She looked hilarious. I told her so…repeatedly.

“You look like an old country grandma who should be sitting on the side of the road selling ham.”

“Oh my God, you look like a backwoods hick granny. All you need is a banjo so you can play the theme from Deliverance.”

I was on fire shooting them out. Mom and Allen giggled like mad. Tears stained all of our cheeks. Of course, we laughed so hard that we woke up Jamie.

Words cannot describe how mad she can get, and she was livid. So, we called it a night.

During that trip I realized that my mom’s teeth entranced me. I could not stop staring at them. I wasn’t alone. My brother-in-law Jared stared too, driving Mom nuts.

I don’t know if it was because she never showed off her teeth or just because they were new. I don’t know. What I do know is that when I went home for Christmas, I wasn’t able to take my eyes off those dentures.