Overheard at a Burger Joint
is all that's left of Being Loved
So I’m standing in the line at a hamburger joint around four o'clock tonight near the DMV [Department of Motor Vehicles], and ahead of me there's a big bear of a young man (about age 24) with his girlfriend (wife?). While the big guy is waiting for his order, he flips open his cell phone and rattles off the following "message":
“Ah, Hi, Ma. It’s me. We’re going to see that new Keanu Reeves movie at the Grand Haven Nine. We stopped by your house to get the “free popcorn bucket,” but we couldn’t fine it anywhere. We let out Dane, but it was too late. She left a big pile on the living room carpet. Didn’t have time to clean it up. Sorry. If you want to join us, the movie starts in a half hour. Be sure to bring the bucket? Bye.”
He flipped the phone shut, grabbed their order, and rushed off to a table. I held my tongue, but Wow! what a loaded message he sent to dear old “Ma.”
I’m guessing “Ma” was either working late or out shopping for these two adult kids. She gets a message on her phone service…”Come join us for a movie.” What mother would not feel honored? Her son and his significant other want her to join them for an evening out. Or do they?
A. They sure could have invited her with more than 30 minutes to spare.
B. They had time to search all over her house for the “free popcorn bucket,” probably leaving half the cupboard doors open; they had time to stop for a burger; but they did not have time to clean up what sounds like a very large dog’s very large mess. How thoughtful.
C. They couldn’t find the “free popcorn bucket.” My guess is that the free bucket is wherever this lummox left it after the last time he stopped by Ma’s and borrowed it. Just a hunch.
[By the way, this is a great promotional idea one of our local theater has. You buy a gallon bucket of popcorn for $10.00 in January and it’s good for free popcorn the rest of the year. This idea keeps people coming back to the same theater. Some people even decide what movie they want to go see depending on whether it’s showing at their bucket theater. (Trust me. I know. We have one, and we know where it is.)]
D. By ending the message with “Be sure to bring the bucket,” the son added just the right affectionate touch to his hasty "voice mail" invitation, making it unclear as to which they wanted most to join them: the mother or the bucket. I'm sure she melted like butter. Right...
I could be wrong, but I doubt that this single mother, after a long week and a long day at work, after closing all the cupboard doors, after shoveling up Dane’s duty in the living room, after searching for her bucket (and then remembering that her son took it two weeks ago), after scarfing down a couple of Oreos (because she hasn’t the time for a burger)... I doubt she’ll want to race to the theater to catch what’s left of "The Day the Earth Stood Still." She may rather just want to plop down in a chair and be still herself.
I was eaves dropping (he was two feet away and talking loudly) and I don't mean to judge. I heard only a 30-second verbal snapshot of a relationship and two people I know nothing about. This is pure speculation but a great reminder that our casual unguarded words reveal our heart.
A few minutes later, I met Julie at the DMV (which is another story, but let me just say that it is not enough to have your wife sign a car title that is in both your names. She must be present at the DMV to complete the transaction Ugh!)... and when I told her what I'd heard, she said quietly:
“I wouldn't be surprised if the mother shows up at the movie. She'll probably blame herself for the mess on the rug. Apologize to the dog for being late. She’s been pickin' up and runnin' after the dog and the son for so long it doesn’t even register anymore. May have done the same for the father before he disappeared. Probably blames herself for that, too. Now, after all these years, it's all a blur and she figures being walked on beats being alone. Being needed for a popcorn bucket beats not being needed at all.”
Wow! Good insight. Sad if it's true, but good insight.
So here’s a little assignment for the comment section: Do you think the mom showed up at the movie tonight? I know Julie wouldn’t. I wouldn’t. How do you think “Ma” spent her evening? What were her thoughts as she turned out the light in her bedroom tonight? What does it mean when feeling needed is all that's left of feeling loved?
[Added Saturday morning: Not to influence the discussion in the comment section, but the comments thus far have made me appreciate the role of Moms who "serve" without become servants, wonderful women who are loving team managers modeling the T-O-Y principle (Think Outside Yourself) and expecting it of their children. This is called "The Mom Song." It was written and originally performed by Anita Renfroe.]
Please pass this post along to any mom you think will appreciate it.
Next "Unsettled" chapter nearly done and coming soon. This was just on my mind.