Excerpt from Writing; Warren #13

A conversation between a closeted gay alcoholic and his well-meaning mother, who he visits in the retirement home while intoxicated.–

My mother was staring at me intently and fiddling with the tiny silver crucifix around her neck. She was waiting for me to take a bite of my food, so I did. She was right, it did taste terrible, but she was watching so I couldn’t spit it out. She stroked my hair, her hands were soft and cool. “Why are you doing this, baby?”
I looked at her. “Why am I doing what, Mom?”
“Why are you slowly killing yourself? You’re such a good man, and you have so many people who love you.”
“Mom, I’m not ‘slowly killing myself.’ You’re being a little bit melodramatic, I just haven’t been feeling very well lately.”
“Warren, I can see you’re starving. I can see you drove here intoxicated. I have eyes, you know. I’m not some stupid, senile old lady.”
“I know you’re not, Mommy. You’re one of the most intelligent people I’ve ever met. Yes, I drove here drunk. I know it was stupid…”
“You know it was stupid? Warren, even if you don’t care about your own life, you could have killed somebody. You could have killed a child. I can’t deal with my baby being responsible for the death of someone else’s baby. Every single time you drive drunk you are at risk of killing someone.”
“You sound like a commercial, Mom.”
“I don’t appreciate your sarcasm, Warren. I’m trying to help you and you keep pushing me away.”

I took her hands in mine. “I’m not pushing you away, I just don’t know what to say. I know I’ve made some absolutely horrible decisions over the past few years. I know I sometimes do some pretty reckless things. I just don’t know how to get things under control. I feel like I’m falling really really quickly and I can’t get my feet back on the ground.”
“Well, I love you very much, and Hannah loves you very much. Everybody makes horrible decisions, but you need to learn from them instead of continuing to act like you’re powerless. Warren, I want you to eat every single bite of that.” She pointed at my tray. I dolloped a spoonful of mashed potatoes into my mouth and forced myself to swallow. I might as well have been eating sawdust.

“Remember how we used to call you ‘mashed potato?’”
“Yes, Mom. How could I forget a nickname like that?
“Well, do you know why we called you that?”
“Yes, but you can tell the story again.
She chuckled. “You were the pickiest eater I’d ever seen in my life, especially for a boy. Everything I put in front of you, you said it was too strong, too salty, wasn’t the right consistency, wasn’t prepared right. I wanted to kill you. You weren’t always tactful either. But the one kind of food we could always get you to eat was mashed potatoes. Sometimes with a little gravy poured on top of them. That’s why we called you that.”
“I should’ve pressed legal action for that nickname when I became an emancipated adult.”

She laughed. “You finished that lime Jell-O pretty quickly, maybe I should call you Jello from now on.”
“Please don’t. Then I’d be like that guy from The Dead Kennedys.” My mom stroked my hair. “Sweetie, I have no idea what you’re talking about. None at all. You’re working on your own wavelength here. She wrapped her arms around me and hugged me tightly. “Warren, you’re starving. I just can’t understand why you’re doing this to yourself. How did you hurt your arm?”
“I accidently cut myself with a kitchen knife while I was cutting onions,” I lied.
“Warren, since when do you cook for yourself?”
“You seem to be under the impression that I don’t do things for myself, that I just sit there in front of the television and drink. I’m not a complete retard, I’m capable of fixing myself a home-cooked meal.”

“Don’t use that word, you know it’s nasty and you know I don’t like it.” She touched the gauze I had wrapped haphazardly around my arm and frowned. “Did a doctor apply this? If so he did a terrible job.”
“Mom, stop worrying about me. I’m okay.”
“You’re not okay. And worrying is my job. It is my job to worry about you as your mother, as long as I’m still alive. You know I’m going to do it anyway, sweetheart, especially when you neglect yourself like this. You need to check yourself into rehab, Warren. I know I can’t make you do it but please, I’m begging you.”
“What are you talking about?” I mumbled.

“I know you’re an alcoholic, and I know you’re going through a lot of mental issues right now. But if you don’t make the conscious decision to help yourself, your kidneys are going to fail, or you’re actually going to starve to death. I can’t bear to lose my only son. Children are not supposed to outlive their parents.”
“I’m thirty-four years old, Mom. I’m not a child.”
“Oh, yes you are. You’re my child.”
“I’m already dying, Mom. My kidneys are shutting down.”
She took my face in her hands and looked me straight in the eye. “Have you been to a doctor?”
“No, Mom. I hate doctors.”
“How do you know you’re dying, then?”
“I can just tell.”
“Warren, that’s for a doctor to decide. Not you. You’re not a doctor.” She slapped me on the leg. “I don’t think you’re dying. I think you’re just fed up with living. And that… is not acceptable. You’re my boy. You need to get checked into rehab, and you need to go to Alcoholics Anonymous.”
“AA didn’t work for Da-”
“I don’t give a damn whether it w


orked for your father or not. You are not your father, Warren. You’re gentler than your father, and in certain ways, you are stronger. But you do not get to use your father as a crutch. Eat your mashed potatoes and your bread.”
I ate, guiltily. I spooned the potatoes into my mouth and polished off the bun. Mom looked satisfied.
You need to get out more and date more, Warren. Do you have any young people you’re friendly with?”
“Not really.”
“What ever happened to that young man Joseph you were so tight with?”
“I have no idea,” I lied.

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