My mum. I don't know when I started calling her "mum". Much longer than after I moved out of the state and relied on PBS releases of BBC comedy for my lessons in culture, style and, occasionally, diction. This is not exactly make me the hot and witty chick the men I wanted WANTED. I was a bit strange.
To this day the word banana is pronounced "BAH-nah-nah". Anything too nasal just does not belong to fruit. No.
And as I write this: the sports bra I was wearing exploded. Danskins/Freestyle, front zip just separated company and popped apart under my 2000 french blue man's shirt with the name 'Atticus" over the heart, on the pocket. My name is not Atticus but the character of Mister Finch lingers, close enough to remind me how people are, how mobs behave, where fear belongs. Maybe I am still a bit strange.
I threw away the sports bra; it was the not the first instance of zipper divorce. I gave it another shot at my chest and BOOM mid-post. Like I've written much in the last year, five years? Still: I am counting that as the one damn thing that does not succeed in what it should do that I am throwing away TODAY.
Anyway. (is it a word? will spell check scold me?). The word I use for a verbal bash of the typewriter bash of the carriage to the left with the right hand while the left advances the paper with a very clicky leaver: anyway. The "movin' on" word. Bash to the right, click to the left. Advance.
"Anyways, Mom..." sitting alone in the tiniest of hallways on the beige carpet, still wet from the cast iron tub I fill more than once a day, soaking up the heat in that huge cast iron vat in what is truly the basement. the cheapest sweetest apartment in Seattle. So I could live with just myself. Bob was the apartment manager although I was so young I thought of him and called him the landlord.
Gay Bob. Smallish man, very strong, bald or shaved head. Skipping down 419 E. John steps of an early 1920 building on Capitol Hill in leather gear. Chaps. Hat. Greets his potential new tenant of the basement unit who came with her mother to check out the unit by the dumpsters. Perfect first apartment for some young stupid girl, freshly crushed. And a bit odd.
Don't worry, Bob says to my mother, I will look out for her. An angel.
And my beloved Bob did just that. For four? six years? Two units, many lovers, and four cats/pet deposit fees, non refundable. He watched out for me.
I loved thinking that Bob was the first OUT gay man my mum met. That the outrageous-ness, the kindness and nobleness of Bob flavored how she thought of homosexuals and the fringes of men in general. There are men out there, near strangers, that will swear to you - you! A woman! - that they promise to watch over the dearest receptacle holding of a piece of your heart. To help. Unbelievable.
Bob kept his word.
"Mom" became "my mum" after she died. Either I can be regressing into 1990 BBC productions, or I am distancing myself from the moment the one became the other.
And here I still am, sprawled on beige rental carpet of my first apartment, wet in a towel, talking into a red plastic phone on a World Market rattan chest. Talking on the phone to my mother. Who I miss.