I took a diet pill this morning. Pound-X whatever. The stuff was pure speed, made me jittery for hours. I felt quite sure if I took another one my heart would explode, even if the stuff kept me from snacking. So I took another one. "It's okay," I thought, "since Momma gave it to me." And then I paused.
My habit for justifying certain bad-for-me things always involves my mother's validation. The diet pills make my heart race beyond healthy contractions? It's okay! Momma gave' em to me. I want to lay around the house all day and eat fried bologna sandwiches and Neapolitan ice cream? Mama thinks that's a good way to unwind. Even sometimes when I'm engaged in intense debates about academic things (and I'll admit that never really happens because I'm not so confrontational), I sometimes long to take the easy way out--or is it a backhanded approach?--and tell my adversary, "Well, I'm right because my Momma said so!"
I'm just going to go ahead and confess. I was that kid. You know, the little boy who loves his mother maybe a little too much. Not in a creepy way, but I was most definitely a momma's boy. A daddy's boy too, much later when I realized I'd tricked my father into loving me. But I never had to trick Momma. When I turned six, she brought 24 cupcakes (homemade, courtesy of Betty Crocker) with blue-tinted icing and M&Ms on top for my kindergarten class. She brought them up to school with bottles of Hawaiian Punch and sang "She'll Be Comin' 'Round The Mountain" to the kids in my class. I sang right along with her, much louder than the other children. It was my birthday after all.
There was a boy named Jeremy, who, after my mother left, told me I couldn't sing. I was incensed, I remember, but knew he couldn't be more wrong. I could sing well because Momma told me I could. And that's what I told him. And he laughed and I cried and a week later we became very good friends until middle school when he just disappeared from school because he'd gotten in trouble or into drugs or into jail--whatever it is unsupervised adolescent boys do to vanish from the earth. Maybe it serves him right for scoffing at my mother's omnipotent decree about my singing ability.
Now, I'm an adult, and I realize that as adults we can't weasel out of arguments or justify poor decision making by citing our mothers. I'm perfectly capable of understanding the harmful effects of diet pills and bologna sandwiches and late nights spent shotgunning beers (well, Momma wouldn't like that). But I like the feeling that what I'm doing, no matter how bad it really is, can't be that bad since my mother says it's okay. Despite her 6 a.m. phone calls that drive me crazy, my momma is the best person in the world (probably just after yours, right?). She knows more than I care to admit about living in this world, and I know she'll never steer me wrong. Because she said she wouldn't.
Besides, it's not really her fault that she doesn't read ingredient labels or worry about calorie intake and the caffeine content of diet pills. That's not what folks from her generation do. A bologna sandwich is a delicacy for her, and diet pills have helped her lose weight and make some money back in the mid-nineties. She was in on the class-action Fen-phen suit. So maybe I should readjust my rationale and give up the Pound-X whatevers. I hate to think what it would do to my poor mother if my heart exploded.