Aiming Low

I can’t make commitments. This is a common theme in guys my age, and probably guys any age, and so it gets repeated ad nauseam, much to my mother’s chagrin.

“What about Lisa? I like Lisa,” who, it should be noted, has the persistence one finds in swarms of Africanized honeybees. My mother finds tenacity like this endearing. It shows interest, she claims.

Lisa, who has a degree in child psychology, which, mind you, is not adult psychology, but, she insists she can analyze my childhood to figure me out now. Ladies, every man wants to hear why you think his problems, though deep-seated, are fixable, with a little effort on your part.

My favorite past time with Lisa was making up traumatic past events to explain the inexplicable behavior I often display at bars, weddings and in the bedroom.

“Mardi Gras fucked me up,” I told her, and she nodded and rubbed my shoulders. I had just explained that I couldn’t go to her whiny friend’s engagement celebration cum costume ball, and needed a suitably messed up skeleton in my closet.

“I used to live in France,” which she knew to be true. I was two, and remember nothing beyond owning Scooby-Doo underwear, but a child psychologist believes toddlers to be capable of astonishing mental feats. “We spent all semester in art class building a papier mache man.” She worked out a knot to the right of my neck.

“Another class built a giant alligator. My brother’s class made a throne that our man sat on.”

I shifted down so she could get at my collar easier.

“I put more effort into this sculpture than anything in my life up until, and for some time after, that point.”

She nuzzled my neck and smelled like lavender.

“Come Mardi Gras, we’re eating snacks and drinking punch, when we all get called out into the courtyard. Our sculptures are there, and I’m so excited I pee myself. A little. I was young.”

“And you’re embarrassed because you peed?” Her concern was genuine, if not misplaced.

“I pee all the time. It’s never bothered me. I’m watching these life-size papier mache statues, and the principal comes over with a torch and sets them on fire. I don’t know if you’ve ever lost a work of art, but it’s one of the more definitive deaths a person can watch.” Lisa called her friend and explained she had one of those 24-hour rotoviruses, extremely contagious. I laid in bed and got sandwiches for two days.

My mother loves Lisa. Why can’t I?

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