The insanity began first in the planning of this trip. My end of the bargain had been secured for months because of the fact that my company was flying me along with my fellow employees to Toronto for the last weekend in January. Unfortunately, things for my Mother proved to be a little bit more complicated. I had been speaking with Princess Toadstool about this for quite some time, since last summer in fact. So when January rolled along and no tickets had been purchased for my Mother to travel to Toronto, I began to get slightly concerned. So I called her one evening and explained in detail a pretty amazing situation called "ORBITZ". I took my Mother step by step through the rigamorol of finding and booking a cheap flight to whatever destination at a particular given time. Apparantly, the advice that I gave birthed her the idea that I am now officially her travel agent. She requested of me that I simply find the cheapest ticket and purchase it online using her company credit card. In matters with my Mother, I choose to take the high ground at this point because there is no reason to argue with her because she will NOT listen. I booked the flight and sent her the e-mail confirmation. I was good to go. Or so I thought.
As the date grew closer and closer to our rendez-vous, things became increasingly more precarious. Originally, Princess Toadstool had told me that she would be staying with some random Black man she found through Facebook. Supposedly Facebook is not (as I understood it) a social networking sight to re-connect with people whom you already know but rather a website that facilitates the contacting of random individuals whom you know absolutely NOTHING about. But again, there is no arguing with my Mother and I figured if it saved me the hastle of booking a hotel in Toronto it would do me a favor. I should explain before I delve deeper into this story that both my Mother and my Grandmother refuse to call me...EVER! They do not believe in outgoing international calls. It must be against there religion. Therefore, I am forced in every situation and/or occasion (including my own birthday) to pick up the phone and make the effort to contact them. A few days before the trip I called Princess Toadstool to confirm the details of the flight. She indicated to me at that point that the Black Facebook boyfriend had fallen through and that it was imperative that I book a hotel for her immediately. Before punching myself in the face, I jumped on the computer and looked for hotels. Now, I must explain that Princess Toadstool is the woman who took me and her other two children (Barbie and Harry Potter) on numerous camping expeditions. This is the same woman who seldomly got her haircut and spent most of her days in a housecoat and flip flops. My Mother is not what I would refer to as high maintenance. So I figured a standard hotel would do just find for her needs. Well, clearly I was wrong. She told me that it was very important that she have a room with a balcony. What purpose was this to serve? Who in their right mind wants to be on a hotel balcony in Canada in the middle of winter? "I need to smoke dear." was her response. "Mom! You know you can't smoke in a hotel, even on the balcony!", was my comeback. But she wasn't having any of that. I simply had to follow instructions. And I did! I found her a room at a Super 8 in downtown Toronto for one week. She was elated! At first I didn't understand why anyone in their right mind would be excited about a Super 8 until I remembered that my Mother actually used to work at a Super 8 in Vancouver. Princess Toadstool loves familiarty! I have truly followed in her footsteps in that I have had a plethora of jobs in a very short amount of time. So there we were finally set until 3 days before the trip. I get an e-mail from my Mother. Here is the condensed version.
"Hi son. My brother finally got back to me. Looks like I can stay with him just outside of Toronto. Please cancel the hotel immediately."
For some reason, my Mother had convinced me earlier to pay the extra money to have the hotel at a refundable rate. Thank God I had done that otherwise we would have been screwed. Literally with minutes to spare I was able to get the full refund just before it would have expired. I breathed a sigh of relief and began preparing myself mentally for 3 full days with my Mother in Toronto. I was at least happy she was now staying with family. I called her the night before her flight (she left to Toronto a day earlier than I) to confirm everything. All was good. I woke up the next morning to prepare for my flight that day. As I was packing I received another e-mail from my Mother. Let me just express that the e-mail below is verbadum what she said to me. I literally copy and pasted it from my e-mail.
I arrived in Toronto with a positive attitude. Considering the previous events, I had no reason to be in a good mood. However, I knew that I was going to have to re-focus my energy in order to survive three days with Princess Toadstool. I was not able to greet her at the hotel immediately (which was a block away from the hotel I stayed at) on account of her being booked up all day at the spa. So I first set out on an adventure to experience my favorite Canadian passtime. Eating poutine! For those of you have not had the opportunity to experience this delectable treat here is the low-down. Poutine is comprised of fries, salty beef gravy, and cheese curds! Just looking at it gives you cellulite but it's worth it! It's the most enjoyable thing since receiving fellatio. You would have thought I was performing fellatio if you had seen me eat the poutine. After I patted my mouth with a paper napkin I knew that the first order of business was to head to the liqor store. This is a normal event for me when travelling on business. I always make it my first goal to get my hands on alcohol that I can store in the hotel room to keep me company. However, on this particular trip to Toronto I knew that I would be in DESPERATE need of Skyy on account of having to deal with my Mother. I made my way to the LCBO and picked up a 1.75L of vodka. I hope it would be enough to last me two nights....
As 8pm approached the clock and as I approached my fourth glass of vodka in my hotel room, I knew that this would probably be a good time to call Princess Toadstool. Surely she had to be out of the spa in the hotel by now. Of course it would be useless to call her from my cell phone because not only does she not believe in outgoing international calls, she only accepts international calls when she is on her own phone. When it comes to my Mother's cellular device, it's local calls ONLY, both outgoing and incoming. So I bit the bullet and picked up the phone in my hotel room. It goes without saying that the moment you even pick up the receiver you can be confident about the fact that you will be enjoying a phone bill no less than $50 when you check out. Princess Toadstool answered the phone with a cheerful voice. I immediately felt relieved. Here was our conversation.
Me: "Did you enjoy the spa?"
Mom: "I did! My hair looks great! I had to switch out the massage for a manicure instead."
Me: "Why did you do that?"
Mom: "I figured if any one touches me right now I am going to fart."
Me: "Why do you figure that?"
Mom: "I have been incredibly gassy lately and I have had really bad diarrhea for quite some time. My hair really looks amazing."
Me: "Wonderful. Would you like to meet up later. I'm going to a show with some friends. You should come."
Mom: "I don't know dear. I would love to go but the diarrhea is really bad. It really depends on how I am feeling. I will let you know."
Me: "Sounds awesome. I will call you later."
First of all, I can tell you that genetics is an amazing thing. I have certainly inherited the diarrhea gene from my Mother. I fully understand the trials and tribulations that come with irritable bowel syndrome. However, with Princess Toadstool this is clearly a "boy who cried wolf" situation. She blames EVERYTHING on diarrhea. She has found her scape goat to evade any possible commitment. You can't get Princess Toadstool to agree to anything! She is too random in her emotions to make plans and diarrhea has become her latest excuse to get what she wants. It's truly unfair and ridiculous but what the Christ am I supposed to do about it. I hung up the phone and went out with my friends.
I arrived at the theatre around 8pm and I knew that I needed to call Princess Toadstool because the show was to start in an hour. My concern was that I knew I couldn't call her from an American phone number because she wouldn't answer. Somehow I had to get my hands on a Canadian cellular device to place the call. The doorman hooked me up. Here is the follow-up conversation with my Mother.
Me: "Are you coming to the show? It's in an hour!"
Mom: "Oh. I don't know. I went to the store across the street and just came back a few minutes ago. The diarrhea was really bad. I didn't make it back to the room in time."
Me: "Are you ok?"
Mom: "I'm in the bathroom now cleaning up."
Me: "Well, do you want to wait tomorrow to get together then?"
Mom: "Well, I know you are only here for a few days so I want to come tonight. I think I can make it but I need to take a shower from the waist down first. I'll be on my way after that."
Me: "Sounds exhilerating. See you soon."
I am assuming that she was taking a shower only from the waist down so that her amazing new haircut would remain intact but I did not want to ask any follow up questions to confirm my assumption. I gave her the address to give the cab driver and hung up the phone. 9pm approached and there was still no sign of Princess Toadstool in the lobby. This was no surprise. You couldn't pay my Mother to be on time. The world could be ending and she would still insist on having her third cup of coffee before boarding the spaceship for refuge. I harassed the doorman yet again. I borrowed his cell phone and gave her a call. Here is how call number three went.
Me: "Mom! Where are you?"
Mom: "I'm here. But I don't know where I am."
Me: "Well if you don't know where you are how can you be so sure that you are here?"
Mom: "Well. I gave the taxi driver the address of the theater and he dropped me off and left. But all I see is a field."
Me: "What do you mean a field?"
Mom: "It's a field dear! And then there are very large poles with signs on them."
Me: "What do the signs say?"
Mom: "Well there's one that a sign fo IKEA, it's blue with yellow writing. Then there's another one that's orange. I think it's a sign for a furniture store or perhaps a warehouse. Then there's another..."
Me: "Wait! Let me hand over the phone to someone who may help."
At this point I handed the phone back to the random African doorman to sort the situation out. I hated to drop my problems onto an unsuspecting foreigner but after 3 minutes of my Mother on the phone I couldn't take it any more. After an eternal amount of time, he handed the phone back to me and explained that she was most likely next to the football field at the high school across the street. The very sweet man actually let me take his phone with him as I went in search of my long lost and confused Mother. This is the rest of our conversation as I searched for Princess Toadstool."
Me: "Mom! Are you still in the same place?"
Mom: "Well of course dear, I don't know where I am!"
Me: "Well stay there! I am coming to get you. You are still by those signs?"
Mom: "Yes dear. I can't believe that taxi driver was so inconsiderate!"
Me: "Mom! I think I see you in the distance! I'm waving!'
Mom: "Oh I see you too! Oh wait....that's not you!"
Me: "What do you mean that's not me. We're the only two people in the street. I'm wearing a black coat walking towards you."
Mom: "Oh well I don't know who you're looking at but it can't be me because I definitely don't see you. The person walking toward me is not my son!"
(At this point, I turned the phone off and starting running towards my Mother)
Me: MOM!!!!!!!! (I approached her and gave her a hug)
Mom: Oh my gosh! I can't believe it's you. You look White from a distance.
Two years had gone by since seeing my very own Mother and the first words out of her mouth were "You look White from a distance.". You can't choose your parents. You really can't. But I love her. And I love the fact that only she would say something so messed up and inappropriate. She was wearing what appeared to be black jazz pants tucked into a pair of black quarter inch boots and a brown faux-fur coat that I bought for her for Christmas in 2006. I will say her hair looked more amazing than I could have ever remembered. We went into the theater, late of course, I thanked the African and then took a seat with Princess Toadstool and enjoyed the show.
During intermission, I took a much needed trip to the bar. I ordered myself a carona. After spending any amount of time in the United States you must be very weary of ordering hard liqor in other countries because their alcohol to mixer ratio is slightly heavier towards the latter. However, this discrepency would do my Mother well on the fact that she is barely 5 feet tall and unlike her son does not tolerate her alcohol well. "Order me something good", was her instruction to me. Disaronno and coke would surely be the most appropriate option for Princess Toadstool. We both chugged our alcohol and bolted it back into the theater. We were already late for the first act and I was going to be damned if we would have to embarass ourselves once more.
After the show, we headed back to my hotel. I was staying at the Sheraton just a few blocks away from Le Meridien where I had booked my Mother a room. I figured she could come into the lobby for a moment and then I would her back to her hotel. It was after midnight at this point and the last thing I needed was for my directionally challenged Mother to fend for herself in the mean streets of downtown Toronto after hours on a weekend. So I decided it would be the loving thing to do to escort her back. It does tickle me that I would be guiding anybody in terms of travelling directions because I too (thanks to genetics) have no idea where I am going most of the time. But I suppose I am the lesser of the two evils in the directionally aware department. I am slightly less worse than Princess Toadstool. It was like the far-sighted leading the blind. We trotted our way down to King Street at a pace that I can only compare to that of a beached manatee after consumming the date-rape drug. My Mother walks slower than I could ever possibly even reinact. I have never seen anything like it. Not that I shouldn't have seen it coming. I mean, I know my Mother walks slow. Princess Toadstool has ALWAYS walked slow. But again, it had been two years and I had forgotten how bad it was. And with age it gets even worse! I tried not to panic. Surely, I couldn't let a glacial paced walk set me over the edge emotionally. I knew there would be a way to rectify this. I figured if I began walking ahead of my Mother that she would eventually take the hint and catch up to me. A half a block later, I look back and she is confidently one hundred paces behind me. That woman was absolutely hell bent at taking HER good time getting back to that hotel. She was the Mother that I remembered. Princess Toadstool, the woman that NOONE can rush! So I stood and waited a few minutes for to finally catch up and maintained her slauth-like tempo back to her hotel. I was amazed that I even stayed awake. We bid eachother adieu. I sprinted back to my hotel and launched myself into bed after making a very large dent into my bottle of Skyy.
I called Princess Toadstool the next day. She seemed quite elated about a trip to the mall. I decided to oblige her. We went to a place called "The Bay" which is essentially the Canadian equivalent of Macy's. I met her at Le Meridien. She was wearing the identical outfit she had sported the evening prior. I decided to turn a blind eye. To be clear, I knew that this was not a "late night situation" where she had no time to change on account of her being up all night but rather a deliberate decision to don the same clothes for days on end for the purpose of efficiency. In fact, I assumed that I would probably see her in the same black jazz pants for the entire week. My assumption would prove correct. We strolled our way to the mall with a speed synonymous to the career growth of Myley Cyrus. We mosied along through the glistening double doors and entired the department store. There were counters upon counters filled with fragrances, accessories, and jewelry. Most of these things disinterest me for the fact that most products appear to me to be clones of eachother. And even though I have no problem with swiping a credit card, I will say that like most men I have an expiration date in terms of how long I can spend inside of an establishment where strangers unsuspectingly spray cologne on you every five minutes. I took a deep breath in and reminded myself that I only had a select amount of time with my Mother and possibly wouldn't see her again in a very long time. It was important to be supportive and jovial. I wanted to approach the situation with absolute positivity. But as Tyra Banks says on America's Next Top Model, "Sometimes wanting it isn't enough."
Princess Toadstool made a B Line to the Chanel counter. I must explain that my Mother always does this thing where she just wanders off any time we are anywhere in public. She is always fully confident that surely I will find her, where I on the other hand totally freak out wondering where my dwarf-sized parent went to! All it takes is one moment to lose my focus and my own Mother disappears. I tried my darndest to keep tabs the whole time. I wandered off myself looking at some wallets which is incredibly ironic considering after paying their absurd prices I would have no money left to put in the wallet. Of course, the entire time I kept one eye glued to my Mother and her brown faux-fur coat. I saw her bounce from counter to counter looking at different products and just torturing every salesman possible with never ending converstation. I just stared in bewilderment. Again, it's not as though I wasn't aware before of my Mother's bizarre personality traits. But watching her combine her verbal diarrhea and her inconsiderate social skills was like watching an Asian person get behind the wheel of a semi-truck in rush hour. However, I must give Princess Toadstool credit because it's not as though she is relentlessly social with strangers for no reason. My Mother has a very clear goal in mind. And that goal is "FREE SAMPLES"! My Mother goes absolutely nuts over anything in the name of gratuity. Certainly, Princess Toadstool has known little of anything middle class or higher but I don't know that that is a legitimate excuse to try and squeeze out every last drop from any handout possible. However, I must say that she does so with charm. After an hour or so my Mother had two gigantic shopping bags FILLED with samples, anything you could think of. There were lotions, aftershaves, perfumes for both genders, shaving creams, chapstick, eyelash glue, and a cure for cancer. It was unbelieveable what my Mother had accumulated. One of the bags was for me of course. Her greedy desire for gratuitous gifts does not go without love. We made our way upstairs to the shoe department. I assumed that I had met my embarassment quota for the day. God has an interesting sense of humor.
As we arrived on the second floor I began congratulating myself. I had been such a good sport and had truly facilitated a wonderful time not just for my Mother but for the both of us to spend some quality time together after being apart for so long. Unfortunately, I had congratulated myself to soon. Because only after fifteen seconds fo daydreaming, I lost her. I could not find my Mother anywhere. I immediately panicked. I felt the diarrhea brewing. As a hot sweaty mess, I began running around the store in search of my Mother like R. Kelly in a nursery. I was searching high and low for the red-headed midget (My Mother's hair was actually brown at this point but red-headed has a much better ring). After several minutes of desparation, I finally set my eyes on the brown coat and newly renovated coif. There was no way I could be mistaken that I was clearly seeing my Mother from the back. I breathed a sigh of relief and ran up enthusiastically to my Mother and tapped her on the shoulder. "I found you!" I exclaimed. "Excuse me, who are you?:" was the response given by the total stranger I had just harassed. How embarassing! I accosted some random woman who had probably never seen a Black person in real life before. She most likely thought I was trying to steal either her purse or her virginity. Just as I was working out the details of how I could successfully avoid jail time for practically assaulting a helpless Canadian, I finally spotted my actual Mother from a distance. When I saw a sample bottle of Usher deodorant fall from her purse I knew this was undoubtedly my Mother. Princess Toadstool instructed me to pick out one item from the store and she would buy it for me. I felt like a kid at Christmas. So I picked out the most practical thing I could. I selected a blue Speedo. My Mother could do nothing but laugh in disapproval. I took one glance at her overflowing bag of free samples and it settled the score. Clearly neither of us could trump the other int he ridiculous department. We took the ginch to the counter, she paid for it and we made our way to the escalators. Just when I thought the worst was over.
I stepped onto the escalator and began descending slowly. After a few seconds I looked back and saw my Mother standing atop the escalator not moving, looking very unsettled. "Princess Toadstool, what are you doing?" I yelled as I continued my descent. "I'm afraid of these things dear." she yelled back as I continued going down. "What are you talking about? Just hold onto the rail, you'll be fine.". At this point, I witnessed something that I never thought I would be witness to. I always have known that my Mother was crazy. But what I failed to realize was that she was holding the most batshit crazy antics for later in my life. And this was an opportunity for Princess Toadstool to give me a glimpse into the schrizophenic mindset that she has adopted. As I continued my descent, I witnessed my Mother at the top of the escalator take a few steps back in preparation for her launch. She lunged for a moment, and paused for only second before taking three large giraffe-length strides towards the apparatus. She then long-jumped landing on two feet on the third step of the escalator (which of course was moving at the time) and grappled onto the railing with both hands like a koala bear. I felt the escalator physically shake as she landed. I can only describe my reaction as astonished. I couldn't believe what I had just witnessed. The only thing I could muster in my perplexed moment of bewilderment was "What the Hell was that?". "I'm scared of these things. I told you.", my Mother explained very matter of fact. I decided at that point that any further questioning or reasoning would be pointless. I just smiled, kept my mouth shut, pretended that I hadn't seen a thing and focused on the fact that this would be an amazing blog posthumously.
The remaining days with my Mother would prove to be just a re-iteration of the love, history, and insanity that the two of us share. It was difficult to look at Princess Toadstool for sixty seconds before thinking to myself "Did you really long jump onto a moving escalator in public yesterday?". But nonetheless this was the time for a Mother and her son to connect. And frankly, what better way to do so then with diuretic reflection and Olympic sports performed on escalators. It is impossible to feel the love that I do for my Mother for anyone else (besides Shakira). The fact that Princess Toadstool tolerated child birth not just for me but for my two other crazy siblings and raised the three of us is reason enough to tolerate a few high demands for accommodations and a few tardy appearances on account of irritable bowel syndrome. And as much as I make fun of my Mother, I recognize the fact that any comment made about her is a direct reflection on me. We all are simply a byproduct of our genetics and our environment. I have Princess Toadstool to thank for my being patient, optimistic, and most importantly thin. I love you Mom! And I will never forget that the delusional bi-racial apple doesn't fall far from the absent-minded free gift-loving tree.