Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Switching sides

From Mitch Albom's One More Day:

My father once told me, “You can be a mama’s boy or a daddy’s boy. But you can’t be both.”

So I was a daddy’s boy. I mimicked his walk. I mimicked his deep, smoky laugh. I carried a baseball glove because he loved baseball, and I took every hardball he threw, even the ones that stung my hands so badly I thought I would scream.

...I was a daddy’s boy, and I remained a daddy’s boy right up to a hot, cloudless Saturday morning in the spring of my fifth grade year. We had a doubleheader scheduled that day against the Cardinals, who wore red wool uniforms and were sponsored by Connor’s Plumbing Supply.

The sun was already warming the kitchen when I entered in my long socks, carrying my glove, and saw my mother at the table smoking a cigarette. My mother was a beautiful woman, but she didn’t look beautiful that morning. She bit her lip and looked away from me. I remember the smell of burnt toast and I thought she was upset because she messed up breakfast.

“I’ll eat cereal,” I said.

I took a bowl from the cupboard.

She cleared her throat. “What time is your game, honey?”

“Do you have a cold?” I asked.

She shook her head and put a hand to her cheek. “What time is your game?”

“I dunno.” I shrugged. This was before I wore a watch.

I got the glass bottle of milk and the big box of corn puffs. I poured the corn puffs too fast and some bounced out of the bowl and onto the table. My mother picked them up, one at a time, and put them in her palm.

“I’ll take you,” she whispered. “Whenever it is.”

“Why can’t Daddy take me?” I asked.

“Daddy’s not here.”

“Where is he?”

She didn’t answer.

“When’s he coming back?”

She squeezed the corn puffs and they crumbled into floury dust.

I was a mama’s boy from that day on . . .

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