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.
"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."
"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 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?"
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.
"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."