Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Crazy lady.

Every few years during my childhood, my mother would lose her mind. And I'm not talking about just a little bit like most moms . . . I'm talking about going bat-sh** crazy in an epic way. I don't know what it is that triggers these . . . ummmm . . . episodes, but they are amazing.

And they're burned in my memory.

Like the time our paths crossed with the now infamous "Nacho Lady" - a woman who has earned a place in Palmore family legend. I was like 7 or 8 and we were driving on a highway in the Dallas area. We were all in the car together - my dad was driving, my mom was in the front passenger seat, and my sisters and I were in the back seat together. There was a lady in a nearby car who had a plastic container of nachos on her dashboard - like the kind of nachos you get at a ball game. She was an aggressive driver and was driving like a mad woman, weaving in and out of traffic and cutting us off. Then she'd drop back behind us, speed forward and cut us off again, all the while eating her nachos from her dashboard. It was crazy. My mom was yelling at her through her window (which was rolled up) and she appeared to be yelling back at my mom. Then she did the unthinkable - she flipped my mom off. Just straight up flipped . . . my . . . mom . . . off. Without a word, without giving us time to work up some righteous indignation on her behalf, indeed without so much as a pause to blink, my mom fired back with the unprecedented - and heretofore unheard of - double bird. And she didn't just flash her fingers quickly in some sort of half-hearted double bird. Oh no. She worked it. Her whole body got into it: her head was cocked to the side, her face had a look of sheer madness, her lips were pursed with restrained curse words, and her fingers were out there for all of the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex to see.

It was a quiet car ride home.

Then there was the time that I unwittingly invited a crazy person to my birthday slumber party in 5th grade. My friends and I were hanging out and having lots of fun but then this girl had a melt down for reasons unbenownst to the rest of us. She stormed away from us and headed toward the stairs, threatening to leave. The other girls and I, of course, followed after hoping to convince her to stay. When we got to the top of the stairs, she turned around, screamed, and then accused us all of trying to push her down the stairs. It was like 75%5th grade drama mixed with 25% Psyc ward drama. Aaaaaaaand then she insisted on calling her parents to come pick her up. I guess that's understandable, what with the attempted murder and all. Anyway, my mom called her dad who came to pick her up and was EXTREMELY irritated with his daughter for the drama. We got the distinct impression that this was not the first time this had happened. But later that night, her mom called to question my mom about the incident. My sisters and my friends and I were listening in on the conversation but could only hear my mom's side of it. We watched as her facial expressions gradually became more and more disgusted and then we heard her say "Oh, go suck an egg!" Aaaaaaand then she hung up violently on my friend's mom. I was sure I was in a bad dream. Surely my mom had not just told another parent to go suck an egg. Surely she knew better than to do that. Surely she knew that now I really did have to push ALL my friends down the stairs so that there would be no witnesses to what she'd done.

Another moment that lives in infamy for the Palmore family is the legendary Enchilada Showdown. My family was out to eat at a local Mexican restaurant and we had the WORST waiter. He was rude and lazy and HORRIBLE. He had had a terrible attitude with my mom the whole night for no reason at all and just chose to be a jerk at every turn. When he brought my mom's enchiladas out, they were really cold so my mom asked him to go heat them up. He refused and told my mom that they were fine. Can you believe that?? I couldn't. And that's when my butt clenched like it has never clenched before. It actually started cramping. I remember things got really quiet - like that initial silence after someone pops a lunch bag in a school cafeteria - and my ears were filled with a ringing sound. I think I actually HEARD something snap inside my mom. She pursed her lips and mashed her hand down onto her enchiladas. Then she raised her hand up and said "These are NOT hot. If they were hot, the cheese would be sticking to my hand." Then she kept slamming her hand back down onto the enchiladas and lifting it back up to reveal a lack of cheese, all the while saying things in a manic fashion like "See? No cheese. Do you see how the cheese is not sticking to my hand? Do you see how these are not hot?" Over and over and over. With all my strength, I suppressed the urge to shout "JUST HEAT THEM UP FOR LOVE OF GOD, MAN!! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!!!" I think I blacked out at the point because I don't recall his reaction or what he did to resolve the situation. I just remember getting indigestion. And developing an aversion to enchiladas.

Sweet sweet memories.

My sisters and I like to lovingly tell my mom how certifiable she was back then and reminisce with her about all the times we should have shot her with a tranquilizer. Things are much less exciting now because she's mellowed out considerably as she's gotten older. For the most part, all she does now is mess up the names of things and provide me with a substantial amount of blog material.

But the other day, she lost her mind again . . .

She took me to see Date Night because she loved it and wanted me to see it. We were sitting in our seats and, apparently, the lady behind my mom was kicking the back of my mom's seat. So my mother handled that situation in a style I like to call "Classic Nora": she turned to me and said loudly, disdain dripping from her words "I'M GOING TO MOVE TO THIS OTHER SEAT OVER HERE TO GIVE THIS LADY A LITTLE MORE ROOM. OKAY? I THINK SHE NEEDS A LITTLE MORE ROOM BECAUSE SHE KEEPS KICKING. MY. SEAT. SO I'LL JUST BE OVER HERE. OKAY??" I sank down in my chair and suppressed the urge to say "Lady, why are you talking to me??" A few minutes later, the offending lady and her date began talking. It was annoying, I grant you, but I ignored it. But another lady, who was sitting further down their row, yelled over at them "Please stop talking!" What happened next is kind of a blur to me because it happened so quickly. My mother, feeling emboldened by this new lady's courage, turned to give the annoying couple a dirty look and noticed that the girl had had the nerve to put her feet on the back of the seat my mom had been forced to vacate. Before I knew what was happening, my mom made a broad, sweeping, back-hand motion and slapped the girl's feet off of the chair, saying unabashedly "GET your feet off my chair, you IDIOT."

I was absolutely beside myself. In horror, I gasped and exclaimed "MOM!" My mom's response was to just settle back comfortably and continue watching the movie as if nothing had happened. I did the same but have NO idea what happened during the next 15 minutes of the film because my mind was racing with thoughts like "It's finally happened. It's time to commit her." The girl, apparently terrified, kept her feet to herself after that so my mom moved back into her original seat, clearly not picking up on the fact that I wanted to distance myself as far from her as possible so that I didn't get shot after the movie when she did.

While we were walking back to our car after the show, my mom explained to me that she had lost her temper because the girl had started kicking her NEW seat, as well. Like going out of her way to irritate my mom. Understandably that upset her - it would upset me, too. But as I kept a vigilant lookout for any signs of a retaliatory ambush in the parking lot, I tried to explain to my mom that, although she was justifiably frustrated, that MIGHT not be an acceptable legal defense in any subsequent assault charge.

Seriously, people - we're just a few years from a padded room.


Emma said...


Phyllis Eddings said...

Wow! I have a newfound respect for Nora! You go girl! Sorry Catherine, but I think your mom has displaced you as my hero.

Anonymous said...

I always want to do what your mom did, but I never do. I'm a very nice person when it comes to obnoxious people. I save my energy for someone who threatens or upsets my family. :-)

Dan Savoie said...

The tears of nostalgia taste just as salty as the tears of laughter. are our mom's related, somehow?