I love my mom. She doesn't put up with anybody's crap, she tries to do her best by me and my sister, and she never makes me do the dishes after a meal when I visit, even though I offer. However, when I lived at home, she had the uncanny ability to watch the most awkward television shows and movies with me, and it drove me crazy.
The first instance occurred when she decided to watch an episode of Dawson's Creek with me. During my freshman year of high school, I was big into Dawson's Creek. On Wednesday nights, I couldn't wait to come home from church youth group, curl up on the couch, and get lost in the lives of Joey, Dawson, Pacey, and the whorish girl for an hour. Growing up, there was only one television set in our house, and it was located in the living room, so whenever you decided to tune into your favorite show, you had to accept the fact that somebody else might join you. However, I thought Dawson's Creek was exempt from this unwritten rule, because normally my parents would hang out in their room (not having sex, you pervs), my sister would be in hers (trying to dance like Jennifer Lopez), and I would have DC all to myself. But one night, my mom, curious as to what the hype was all about, decided to watch an episode with me. I was pissed. I had been waiting all week for my DC time, and I didn't want my mom to tarnish it with her parental judgement.
As my luck would have it, the one time she decided to watch it with me, the episode was about sex. Sex, sex, sex, sex, sex. That's pretty much all they talked about for the entire hour. Being fifteen years old and watching a TV show about sex with your mom is mortifying. I didn't look at her one time. I just prayed that maybe a miracle would happen, like when they would start talking about sex, she would think they were talking about jai alai. It could happen. God could do anything. That's what we were told in church youth group. Unfortunately, God did not perform a miracle and Mom was well-aware that the DC kids were talking about sex. After the episode was over, she announced that it wasn't an appropriate TV show for me to watch, and Dawson's Creek was banned in our household, leaving me no choice but to ride my bike over to my friend Dawn's house and watch it there.
After the Dawson's Creek incident, not only would my mom continue to watch awkward programming with me, she started to comment on the uncomfortable parts as well. One night during an episode of ER, a scene came on where Noah Wylie's character was having sex with his girlfriend. You couldn't really see anything, just shadows, but you could hear it, and I was hoping that the scene would end before Mom had a chance to say something. No dice. She chimed in, "Wow, they didn't leave much to the imagination as to what they're doing, huh?" I wanted to crawl under a rock and die. This time, however, she did not ban me from watching ER, a decision in which the underlying logic eludes me to this day. She was oh-so-offended by the DC kids talking about sex, but other than the uncomfortable moment we shared, she didn't seem bothered by that scene in ER. I think it was because ER was one of her favorite shows, and to ban it meant she wouldn't be able to watch it either.
After I graduated from high school, I got a job at the poor man's Blockbuster, also known as Movie Gallery. One of the perks of employment was free rentals, so one night I brought home The Good Girl, a movie I had been wanting to see for some time. My mom wanted to see it too, so it didn't surprise me that when I went to watch it, she took her customary place on the love seat to join me. Around the middle of the movie, a sex scene between Jennifer Aniston and Jake Gyllenhaal came on, and even though I was eighteen, a college freshman, had a part-time job, and was a voting citizen, I still had to fight the urge to bury my face in my hands and telepathically will my mom to go away. Mom, however, stayed put and decided to do her part to make the situation even more suicide-inducing than it already was by chiming in with her never-failing commentary: "Wow, they're really going at it, huh?" Judging by the heat I felt in my face, I knew it was as red as a tomato, and I sat through the rest of the movie wrapped in a blanket of unease and anxiety, worried at what else she would say.
I love my mom, and when I have children of my own someday, I hope to be half as good to them as she is to me and Laura. But when the day comes where I am watching a movie or some TV with my kids and a dubious scene comes on, I'm just going to stare straight ahead, not say a word, not make eye contact, and pretend it's jai alai.