Monday, April 19, 2010

Sometimes It Skips a Generation

Last Sunday Afternoon. Not yesterday. The one before that. Whatever.

"Shit. Hold on guys, I need to take this," I'm shaking as I leave the patio table in front of the bar and answer my phone, partly because it's cold outside, partly out of fear, and partly because I'm a little hungover. Or a lot hungover. Whatever.

This is a big fucking deal, because I don't do that. I also don't use call waiting, and I won't talk on the phone while I'm hanging out with someone else. It's fucking rude. Seriously, if I'm constantly texting someone when I'm around you it means I don't want to be around you.

Exceptions to these rules include but are not limited to (1) giving directions to a third member of our party who has yet to arrive, (2) receiving directions for a destination to which we have yet to travel, and (3) my mother, because she only calls when something is wrong. 

I do not idly chat with my mother. She is smart, exact, realistic, calm, retentive, genuinely polite and all business, which is why I answer her phone calls.  Also, I'd been waiting for her to call me all morning.

"Hey, Ma."

"Hi, hon. What's going on?"

"Well..." I don't want to tell her. I've called her twice today, and I don't want to tell her. "So...okay. So you know how I...shit."


"Sorry. Okay." Breathe. Breathe. "The bike got stolen. Atticus. Is gone."

"What? Oh no, honey, I'm so sorry."

"And I'm sorry, it's all my fault, I take full responsibility and I promise, I promise, I promise I will do my damnedest to find it."

"Well, bikes get stolen. How did they get through the lock?"

"See, it wasn't locked."

"Oh? Why not?"

"It was in the back hallway, and it's only accessible through one of the apartments. Unless someone left the back gate and the back door unbolted, which is unlikely. I think."

"Still, honey, you know you should always lock-"

"Yes. I know. Always lock your bike, always lock your car, always lock your door. I know this. I know." My mom doesn't understand things like this. Making little mistakes. There are rules, you see, and you follow them.

"Well honey, obviously you didn't know."

Gaaaaahhhhhhh. "Yes. You're right. I'm sorry. It was locked all winter, and I moved it last weekend and forgot to lock it up and some son of a bitch took the damn thing in that four day period of time and I'm sorry for screwing up. Again." I'd left my lock draped over the handlebar with every intention of putting it back on just after doing...something. Whoever stole the bike had coolly placed the u-lock on the window shelf. Tauntingly.

"It's not your fault," she assures me, with complete sincerity. "It's that other person's fault for breaking the law."

"Yes. I know." She says that now. But in four years I'm gonna do something stupid and she's going to be all, well, you need to be more careful. Remember when the bike got stolen?

"Did you file a police report?"

"No, not yet."

"Well honey--"

"That's why I called you. I need the serial number. I can't find my copy of it." Total lie. I never wrote it down because I never found it on the bike. Because I am a dumbass.

"Oh, I'm sure I have it filed." I am positive she has the original paperwork from 1970-whatever and everything. "I'm actually on the road right now, so I can't get it for you until a little bit later."

"Thanks. And you know, I think I found it on Craiglist. I'm sure I did. And I emailed them and they never got back to me, and then they totally just pulled the bike from the ad completely. Like it was never even there. They had to know it was me."

"How would they know that?" I wish she was being patronizing, because then I could blame her for giving me low-self-esteem or something while venting to my imaginary therapist. No, she is honestly inquisitive. Much more infuriating and harder to prove.

"Because I posted a note with my email address all around the complex and I used that same email address to contact those sonsabitches and I know that whoever stole my bike had to be friends with someone in the building. They had to be. Otherwise, I mean...yeah. They had to be allowed into that hallway by a person who lives there. So I'm thinking that the sonsabitches were warned that I was on to them."

"When did it become okay for you to swear?"

"I'm sorry." Shit.

She sighs. "I guess that's entirely possible."

"But okay, listen to this - so I set up a fake email address and I emailed them this morning and they got back to me within a minute. Seriously. I said I was Phil, and me and him are going over there tomorrow night and we're totally gonna steal it back. I'm talking stealthy, cloak-and-dagger shit. I mean business. Pretend I didn't swear. Sor."

"Please don't steal it. You should call the police."

"I know, you're right. I'm sorry, I just got excited and said 'steal.' I promise we will call the police."

"Don't say things you don't mean."

Fuck. "I apologize. I already talked to the cops and asked them if they would go with me. They said I had to verify it was my bike first, and that I should call 911 if I found it."


"And then I asked if finding my stolen bike on the property of another was worthy of an emergency phone call, and the policewoman said, 'Hell yeah, girl.' So I gots legal permission."

"Well okay, then."

"I'm sorry for interrupting you, before. I just want you to know that I'm taking care of it. I got this down. Seriously. Except for the locking-the-bike part."

"I'm glad. And now you know why we always remind you to do these things. One day, like this time, you might forget. I know you would never be intentionally careless. And you know, in the end - and you don't want to hear this - but you will learn from this."

I fucking wish that was some passive-aggressive shit, but I know it's not. It reads like some passive-aggressive shit. Believe what you will, but know this: you don't know my mom. You never have to ask her if she's mad. Ever. She tells you immediately. Granted, she hasn't been mad at me for years, not since I lived at home after college. Then it was constantly, you know, "I'm mad at you because you got drunk and skipped your cousin's wedding shower" (I WAS LOOKING FOR A MISSING SNOWMAN) or "I'm mad at you because of your secret tattoo" or "I'm mad at you because the dog ate your cigarettes and now there is tobacco in the carpet and when did you start smoking?" or "I'm mad at you because you quit grad school and didn't tell me and if you refuse to take any steps towards a substantive career you need to be out of this house by October."

"Thanks, Ma." Get mad at me. Why the fuck aren't you mad at me?

"Don't worry, honey, I'm not mad at you." Well you fucking should be. It's so much easier to give myself a hard time if I have a fucking reason to do so.

"Good. I was worried." Shit shit shit. Guilt.

"You can't blame yourself for this. I'll get you that serial number later, but I have to go now, okay?"


"Stop it. Do not blame yourself."

"I'm not."

"I don't want you feeling guilty about this. I know how you are. And don't do anything...silly."

"What, like stake out potential burglar addresses that I found on Craigslist? I'm doing that tomorrow night."

"Just don't. You know what? Nevermind."


"I gotta go. Later, okay?"

"Later, skater."

"Bye, honey."

I hang up the phone and head back over to the table, shivering. It's cold outside. My posse has moved to an adjacent patio table in the sun.

"The Mom?" Muffy asks as I sit down again.

"You know it."

"Did she have it?" MoLinder jumps in.

"Filed away."

"I told you. Accountants, man, they save everything," Sean laughs.

"You know, I love my mom because she's the most responsible woman ever in the world, but I fucking hate my mom because she's the most responsible woman ever. In the fucking world."



M. said...

this is the second time you remind me of my best friend catherine with her lawyer mom who is just...ridiculously awesome.

MoLinder said...

i just talked to AL and he told me how sorry he was that the bike disappeared from the back hallway. he's in a agreement with our assessment - that it was taken by someone in our bldg, or by a friend of someone in the bldg or by some hoodlum that managed to get through the back gate and back door (although he thinks this scenario is unlikely).
ALSO, he said that his friend is moving in on our side May 1st. and this friend is a cop. i'm not sure how i feel about that...

Rassles said...

Wouldn't it just be the shit if this new cop neighbor was hot, single, liberal, and aspiring to be sheriff? OMG dreamy.

Diary of Why said...

Ohmygod. The plot thickens. I'm picturing some crazy pink panther hijinks. But wait...if this was the Sunday before last then surely the issue has been resolved by now? You're holding out on us, I know it! How could you? (I'm not mad, just disappointed.)

MoLinder said...

well, Al did describe him as "big, burly guy" so draw your own conclusions.

renalfailure said...

If it is your bike can you do the David Caruso CSI: Miami sunglasses/pithy comment thing when the cops take the bike thieves away.

Looks like someone won't be making the Tour de France this year.


Anonymous said...

i want you to get your bike back. i want the perps punished. i would, in fact, like to punish the perps personally. fuck the po-lice.

and yes, your mother has that magical ability to inspire and infuriate.

sid said...

Dude you totally need to write a book already. Totally captivated by this story. It's such a simple story

Ellie said...

Where's the next installment! Want to know about the potential perps!

I love your mom. She seems like my mom except for being so responsible.

Del-V said...

I can't wait for the sting. If you need anyone to dress up in a random, everyday outfit (like a pizza delivery guy or a FedEx driver) then jump out and tackle the perp, let me know. I saw it on the A-Team once and I always wanted to be that guy. I love it when a plan comes together.

Kitty said...

I want to be like your mom when I grow up.

Thanatos said...

If you find the perp, I'll grow a beard, wear a turban and show up in fatigues. That shit always works for us brown people.

nursemyra said...

I thought your secret tattoo was a more recent acquisition?


My son says your mom sounds like me

Anonymous said...

This brings on a variety of seriously had the lock there and didn't even lock it? Also, who named the bike? Is it okay if you cuss when you're quoting somebody else?

I'm anxiously awaiting the outcome of this story.

Red said...

Ross, most cops aren't libs. But I hope for your sake he's hot and single. I've actually had better luck with non-libs. Politics should definitely stop at the bedroom door, if not well before.

Rassles said...

It's not so much "I love cops" or "I love liberals." Because I don't find someone instantly attractive if they possess one of those attributes. It's more like, "I love cops who are liberals." It's like finding a unicorn.

The Ambiguous Blob said...

I never know what to do with stuff like warranties and W2s or 4s or what the fuck ever they are. I need a manager, man. Someone like your mom to manage me.

Tell me no- I really shouldn't just buy plane tickets online and then totally forget what date I'm going where...

Is your mom retired yet? Can she take on a really awfully disorganized client really far away?

Sorry about your bike. That blows- I would be super upset if someone took off with my cruiser. It has a banana seat.

Meems said...


stop drinking two nights a week and hunker down.

Gwen said...

Your mom is amazing. My mom is the queen of passive aggressive. If I don't call her for a week she's all overly happy to hear from me, but I know it's just her way of making me feel guilty. She's all, "Oh my god. It is SO great to hear from you" which translates to "You haven't called me in a week and it hurt my feelings." I don't know why I am telling you this. Maybe to let you know something you already know - you have a great mom.

Good luck finding your bike.

formerly fun said...

Ugh, I am that mom. The rules are the rules are the rules are the rules. Did you go nab back Atticus? By the way, if you were my kids, I would have gotten mad at you, not for the bike but for the plot to go to the bike stealers house. Seriously, I know they are no good bike thieves and not Columbian drug lords(as far as we know) but dangerous much?? But since you're not my kid, I think it's kind of cool and I am dying to know what happened.

Anonymous said...

If it's not too late, I'd like a video version. Secure a flip video to your hat or head someway and capture the return of your bike. OR your total disappointment when you find it it wasn't your stolen bike. It would go so viral...

~Mountain Lover~ said...


A Free Man said...

Just bring a couple of big guys with motorcycle chains and beat the crap out of the bastards.

With my Mom it is passive aggressive. But I get the whole love/hate/responsibility thing.