As I prepare to celebrate 20 years of wedded bliss(to the same man, mind you-lol) I am reminded of the old advice, when you get married, you also marry the family. Hubby Todd not being a conventional man, took that a step further.
My new apartment came with many of the usual things— couch, dresser, kitchenette. It also came with a few unusual things too— Dot and Shorty, my elderly, eccentric landlords in touch with the “other side,” and a King-sized bed with a horse-hair mattress– as in Mr. Ed.
“We’ve had it fifty years,” Shorty boasted, describing it as, “The best sleep they’d ever had.”
I beg to differ. Being a human pincushion and dodging horse hairs all night wasn’t my idea of bedtime bliss.
“Brought it with us all the way from White Plains,” Dot bragged.
Yeah, on a buckboard and this was hair was from the horse that pulled it.
One Friday night while they were hosting their regular, “Psychic Friends” soirée, Dot invited me over.
“Come and join us. Maybe we can find you a man.”
“I don’t know if I’m ready to find one that could’ve been a cactus in a former life. Besides, I have a man,” I replied, scanning her driveway wondering what kind of car Dionne Warwick drove.
“Not that Todd! He reminds me of the most awful guard in the Bastille when I was a prisoner. In a former life, mind you,” she grumbled, as if this was a normal conversation.
Hmm. That explained her treatment of him and her fascination with Bastille Day.
A week later Mama came down to see my new place and meet “That Todd.” Like most things in my life—it too would prove eventful.
“I’m nervous,” he said. “Suppose she doesn’t like me?”
“You never locked her up in the Bastille, did you?” I teased. “It’ll be fine. Show her Miami. She can soak up some local color.”
In hindsight, you could say Mama “soused” rather than soaked up that local color.
She blew into town and we were off to Miami Beach. I’d never spent much time there, but apparently Todd had. He took us to his favorite spots, all of which served lots of his favorite drink… alcohol. They drank Goombay Smashes at one place, Rum-Runners at another, and Pina Coladas at yet another.
“You’re Mama is s-o-o-o-o-o cool,” he slurred.
And tipsy, too,” I added.
They walked arms locked, as if they’d known each other forever, never even noticing the car-load of Japanese tourists who ran over my feet in the cross walk. Thankfully I had the foresight to curl my toes under.
“Oh, you’re fine,” Mama giggled, her motherly pat on my head a little too hard and sloppy while an oblivious Todd danced around on the sidewalk.
It was when Todd did his infamous lizard impression upon all fours on the floor of the busy restaurant I decided the sightseeing was over.
On the count of three,” I said, as Mama and I deposited a deadweight Todd atop Mr. Ed back at my apartment an hour later.
“Let him sleep awhile,” I said. “Then we’ll send him home.”
At nine we tried to wake him. And again at midnight.
“But he’s got to wake up!” I squealed. “He can’t stay here! You’re staying here! Where’s he going to sleep? Where are we going to sleep?”
“Get up!” I yelled, loudly enough to wake any of Dot and Shorty’s party guests, dead or alive as he snored happily in the center of the bed while another hour passed.
“We can either roll him onto the floor or roll him over. I think we should just let him stay there,” Mama finally said. “I don’t figure he is going to be capable of being romantic tonight, do you?” she asked, matter of fact.
I could only look at her horrified. She sure picked a fine time to become logical.
“Well, he’s not going sleep in the middle!” I declared, nearly rupturing my spleen while heaving him to one side.
As we readied for bed, it was beyond awkward dressing in silence and anticipating the inevitable. My faithful bedside bible, Cosmo, never prepared me for anything like this! It was all I could do to manage a hip, “what the hell” attitude as I slid under the covers between them trying to convince myself this was all normal.
Todd certainly slept well for a man in bed with both his girlfriend and her mother. Too well. What if this wasn’t his “first time?” And what about my sainted, school teacher Mama, sleeping peacefully to my left with her beehive perfectly in place? Only I was unnerved by this scenario and spent the night counting ceiling tiles and horse-hairs.
The light from the kitchen woke me around four. The mile-high, beehive silhouette on the pillow told me who was in the kitchen. Oh, this should be choice. I could hardly wait to see his face as I tip-toed in. It proved far better than I could have hoped. Shell-shocked.
“What happened?” he asked, rubbing his head at the table.
I wasn’t about to let him off that easily.
“Do you always sleep with your girlfriends’ mothers when you first meet them?” I demanded, sarcastically.
It was evident he had no recollection of what had happened.
“Once we realized that you weren’t in a coma, and I was praying you were, we decided to let you sleep it off here. Actually it was Mama’s idea. I was ready to roll you onto the floor. Anyway, I’m tired. Let’s go back to bed,” I said, yawning.
“I can’t go back to bed! Your mother’s in that bed!” he whispered, adamantly.
“Oh, please. Like that matters now. What are a few more hours?” I asked, perturbed at his new- found modesty.
His long 6’2” body was draped over the tiny love seat the next morning. Mama got up, took one look at him and teased him unmercifully.
“Wait till her Daddy hears about this. You’ll have to marry her and make an honest woman out of one of us,” she laughed, putting on her robe as Todd’s face turned purple.
“Yeah, one of those old-fashioned family shotgun weddings,” I snickered.
“Better not tell Daddy just yet,” she warned. “He might shoot poor ol’ Todd.”
Todd must have been afraid word might leak out because two months later I had an engagement ring on my finger.
“Now, it can be our little family secret,” he assured Mama on the phone.
Six years later we decided we’d been married long enough to let to let Daddy in on it. In our family it’s all about the timing. Ours was off.
“This is your fault!” he screamed as if had just occurred. “She certainly wasn’t like this when I married her. It’s a horrible thing when a daughter corrupts her own mother.”
I’m happy to say that Daddy finally moved past our family indiscretion, though we don’t mention it much. As for me I consider it one of those sacred things between mother and daughter. My first prom, my wedding day, the birth of my child, and the first time we slept together with my boyfriend—on a horse-hair mattress.