Here is one of the few things in my life that scares the bejesus out of me:
I’m afraid of flying. I am not afraid of heights. I’m just terrified of
flying. Which is absurd because I’ve never been on an airplane. You have to
fly the plane before you try to fly it. The last time I rode in a plane I was
in college. The only time I’ve ever flown in a plane was when I went down to
San Diego for my mother’s funeral. I flew out of LAX.
Flying scares Tony, too. I don’t think he has to be reminded of the things
he has to do in order to get to a job in the mailroom. Tony is the second
child of five, born three years after his parents’ divorce. His sister, his
brothers and his mother have all been more successful than he.
His mother won’t take him to work. She knows how it will look if she leaves
him alone in a classroom. His sister lives with Tony’s father, and she also
knows how it will look if she lets her boy have a half-hour alone with some
of his peers. Tony’s mother knows that she can’t keep him home much longer
without him starting to be a teenager, which she knows is a possibility.
She told Tony one night when he was twelve years old, “If you want to be
with your father, then become a man.” Her husband had left her when
Tony was ten. Tony’s mother has always taken control over Tony and made him
do things he didn’t want to do. Like get a job where he had to talk to
customers in front of clients. He hated every minute of it, but he took the
job because she wanted him to work with the customers. He’d been home sick
from school that day, and his mother had ordered him to go to work. He
kicked her in the shin. That’s the story of the trip to the hospital. And
then there was the whole “I hit my head on the car” story. His mother
has a pretty good memory. “Tony, did you hit your head on the car?”
One day Tony’s father and mother were sitting in the living room together.
Tony’s father was sitting on the sofa, and Tony’s mother was standing in the
doorway and rocking back and forth on her heels. Suddenly the door flew open,
and Tony’s mother shoved him out into the hallway, yelling at him to go to
his bedroom and to stay there.
Tony’s father looked at Tony and said, “Tony, why are you in my house?”
Tony’s father turned and went into his room. Tony went to his own room,
pulled his pants down and lay across his bed. His mother was standing still
in the living room. Tony told her, “I don’t want to go to my room. I want
out.” Tony’s mother told him he was being ridiculous, and she went back to
the living room.
Now if you look at his mother closely, you’ll see that she wears a size
two. When a man is at home alone with his mother, he is allowed to wear a
size two. She wears her size two all the time for two reasons: 1) she knows
the difference between a size two and a four, and 2) the man has an excuse
to wear a size two. She doesn’t buy clothes, she goes to the mall, she
pounds the pavement, she shops at the drug store, she drives. She is dressed
for a life of shopping. She goes to the mall all the time. She spends a lot
of time in the clothing section of the mall where you can see all the size
two and four pairs in a row. She shops at the drug store, because she buys
her medicine, or anti-histamines, every day at the same time. She drives. She
goes to a lot of movie theaters.
Tony has a theory that he can walk to school if he can’t walk anywhere else
in the family car. That was the problem the first time he got in trouble by
running late. His father came home from work, and it was like a scene out
of a scary movie. His mother drove him to school, and Tony’s father followed
immediately behind in their car, which is the same model as mine. His mother
stopped at the stop sign where I had to stop. Tony looked at her, then back
at me. I said, “Your mother stopped at the stop sign right where I had to
stop.” Tony replied, “Oh, I got it. I stopped where you made me. I am an
asshole.” I could see that he was really mad.
The second time Tony got in trouble was with the first class-room teacher.
The first class teacher saw Tony getting ready for school, pulled him off to
the side of the room and told him, “I don’t like it when you wear clothes
that are too big or too tight.” He said he didn’t like it either. The
teacher told him to wear the clothes he has been wearing for the last five
years. Tony has to wear his clothes that are the same length as his shorts
and his pants. That’s not easy. As soon as your pants are a little shorter
than your shorts, you get a sore butt. As soon as your shorts are taller than
your pants, you get bollocks. He had to make a decision between a butt or a
bum. He had a sore butt, and he didn’t want to have a bum. It hurts too much
to make a decision. He just said I want to have a bum.
Teachers are often hard on kids. But adults are hard on their children as
well. I’m not sure Tony knows why he’s in so much trouble with his mother’s
friends and teachers. It might be because he is the smartest kid in the