Mom, forty-three with sags and bags seen through near sheer spandex and miniskirts, her dark straight hair sprouting gray wings from side to side, skin tinted a brown natural tan even in Michigan’s coldest winter months. I never knew a day she wasn’t strong, in charge, and oozing with confidence.
Mom enjoyed hot days spent in our backyard drinking mixes of vodka and grapefruit juice, nights dancing alone in a dark candle lit house blasting Def Leopard or sometimes even Eminem. Her seductive moves spinning remnants of days that once paid her to dance in the nude. Welfare didn’t cover all the cost of having four kids, and minimum wage paying jobs were a joke. Mom, always clever, never failed at finding ways to get us by in life.
Things could have been different, a bit more peaceful, if it weren’t for the drinking and the drugs, but at least the latter kept her at home and cool. The booze always stirred up anger and resentment, the crack, her illegal antidepressant.
Whiskey was to blame that night, intoxicating her early on. It was a cool October in ’99, the night before Halloween. She hadn’t had a driver’s license because of her drinking in years, normally cabed it, or had me drop her off at the bar, but she decided to be her own chauffeur this time. Set her face with sparkles and dark eyeliner, a short skirt with a tight knit to wear, no disguise for her tonight. She didn’t hurt no one but herself, cop caught her, didn’t even make it very far.
Now at twenty-one, Mom and me frequented many of the same bars and nightclubs. Our paths may have even crossed that night, Mom leaving Clovers just minutes before my arrival. My attire fit the night. I wore a black sleek polyester dress with long belled out sleeves. I lacked the pointed hat, but topped the outfit off by allowing my naturally witchy hair to run wild, painting in a single dark mole on my cheekbone. The dress flattered my skinny pale bod, but pushed my tiny tits into a more flattened state.
I was still with Brian that night. I had broken up with him months before, just hadn’t clued him in yet. My choices in men, poor to say the least, always dysfunctional in a drug or drunken way, and this one held a commonality with my Mother’s drunk driving history. I never allowed myself to get too attached. Always hurt boys before they could hurt me. Learned that from the one that took my virginity away at just fifteen.
The costume contest began, the stage rough and ready, contestants crammed along the strung lit dark paneled walls, tables shifted to create the catwalk for judging who could be the best in creative costume dress. I didn’t dare try to compete, didn’t have my booze boosting confidence in me that night.
‘Hit me Baby one more time’ played like clockwork down the line. With each turn the Britney Spears impersonators reenacted moves from the video, swinging their plaid miniskirts to the sky, launching howls from the crowd of mostly men. I had my fill. The drinks weren’t going down smooth anyway. Ditched the goodbyes and went on home to take care of my little brother Joe. BillyJoe, or Joe for short, was always there.
I just moved back home for the third time. We lived in an oversized white bungalow on a corner lot in the downriver city of Wyandotte. It wasn’t much.
Causes Maria Mendoza Supports
Autism Society of America