“Don’t you think what you did was awful?” I asked my eighty year old mom.
She chuckled and shrugged her shoulders. ‘Meh. In her mind it was a blase childhood moment like taking your kid to the park every Tuesday.
I look at her. She pauses. And then she contemplates for a split second and figures she might as well throw in, “Well, your brother talks about it too. Like it was something.”
“It was mom. It was horrifying. The most embarrassing moment of my life!”
Granted this was when we were kids, but it’s the one moment all three of us kids still say, “Oh my God. Can you believe she did that?!”
First, this is not about the Village People YMCA dance. Not at all. When this event took place we just happened to be at the YMCA.
If you read my posts you know my mom is artsy. But she’s artsy like in drawing, drawing naked people. And she’s good at it. We had naked people all over our house. She loved to share her talent, even at church, (well only once). They don’t let you be church greeters after you get off script and say, “Welcome To Church Can I Draw You Naked.” (Really did happen. There’s a couple somewhere that has a really nice portrait where they are holding hands facing each other. Nude of course.) Now I’m off script.
I’m trying to convey that although our mom is artsy, she doesn’t dance. At all. Ever. But none of this mattered to Marilyne.
Marilyne is my mom. I’ve called her by her first name since I was little. And when you are twelve and call your mom by her first name, that makes you a bad ass in the eyes of the other kids. Impressing other kids when you are twelve is a big deal. And this is important to understand. Tina (my sister) and I, we didn’t have any friends at the Y. We were still trying to fit in.
Marilyne LOVED the YMCA. She thought it was a country club. And she signed us up for everything uncool, like swimming lessons. Which we hated. Which we didn’t need. Which we never asked to do. Not once.
The only thing good about swimming lessons was a beacon shining at the end of that boring thirty minutes. And it was the TV room.
Our parents didn’t believe in TV. We never had one. We were never going to get one. And the only glimpses we had of it, was maybe ten minutes after swim lessons. But we had to rush to make it in the TV room before all the other kids got there after their classes. (Which were cool classes, not swimming.)
The TV room was dark and smelled like bubble gum and farts. The furnishings were donated ski lodge chairs and sticky vinyl couches which were placed so tightly together it was hard to walk without banging someone’s knees.
Tina found a spot on the couch near the TV. My brother was already seated, and I say that because I mentioned him at the beginning. Thing is, I lost track of him after that, because after all he was only six. And a six year old doesn’t count too much when you are twelve.
I found the one last seat on the sticky couch by the door. No one said hi to us we took our spots. And I figured it would take a few more months to be accepted and be part of the “in” crowd at the TV room.
The Three Stooges was blasting away. This is an idiot 30 minute comedy that people seem to think is funny. It’ not. And it wasn’t my first choice. But after all it was TV. And I knew I wouldn’t get more than 10 minutes, because Marilyne would arrive and signal us it was time to go right around the time the show ended. And I was right.
About two minutes before the end of the show Marilyne appeared in the doorway. But instead of signaling us that it was time to go she stands still like a statue. In the doorway. No signal. No movement. Blocking anyone who wanted to get in.
She did stuff like that, stuff that didn’t fit in with what every one else was doing. And that’s why the next thing she did was, well a typical embarrassing Marilyne moment which was out of sync with what was going on. She begins to smile and pivot her head like Miss America and waves to the room. Except she’s smiling and waving at the back of the kids heads.
I decided I was going to ignore her. She was embarrassing and I didn’t want anyone connecting her to me. I looked back at the TV hoping that she would quit. But that didn’t happen, and this is where events begin to turn from weird to horrifying.
One of the boys gets up from the couch that was all the way across the room. He was leaving his seat, the last seat available. As this boy is coming towards the door where Marilyne is waving and smiling at the back of everyone’s heads – instead of moving to the side to let him out – she FLIES out of the doorway like a cattle prod lit up her hind side and charges to grab the seat he just left!
She leaps across the room knocking all the kids in the knees and lands with a *thud* on the couch which was right next to the TV. Which is obviously in the front of the room where everyone can see her.
All conversations cease. All the kids look at her. The only noise is the TV in the background. No one says anything.
Now Marilyne takes this silence as acceptance. She begins to smile at all the kids. And she wants to make eye contact because she is a big believer in making eye contact. But as soon as she smiles at the first kid, immediately ALL eyes dart back to the TV. No one wanted to make eye contact with the crazy couch poaching lady.
I noticed a couple kids exchange the what-the-hell look. I look down and I hold my breath. I don’t want her to say anything to us, otherwise everyone will know the couch poacher belongs to our family.
A few more seconds go by. She said nothing. And I slowly let out my breath.
By now everyone was involved with the Stooges. So I thought it was safe to take a peek at Marilyne just to see what she was doing. She was still smiling! But smiling at no one, just looking off in the distance and smiling.
I thought I’d seen the worse part of the day with the flying couch move – but that was just the beginning! The Three Stooges come to an end and the theme song begins to play as the credits roll. And that’s when Marilyne suddenly snaps out of her fog!
Like a production manager gave her a cue – she catapults off of the couch! Not like shegets up quickly, or stands in a hurry, but she jumps straight up like rocket fuel lit up her ass! From sitting one second to shooting two feet up in the air the next second! When she landed she smiled proudly as if she stuck a ten in gymnastics.
She now has an audience. Still standing in front of the couch she sticks her arms out to her side and begins to move them like a windmill exactly in time with the The Three Stooges theme song. The kid on the couch next to her flinches as she almost knocks him in the head.
With her windmill arms moving her feet begin to move. But not in a way that I can describe. Not in a way anyone can describe unless you have witnessed a church dance. And since most people haven’t I’ll explain. Think of a first grader skipping, but they don’t know how to skip forward, so they skip side to side.
And now at this point NO ONE is watching TV. All attention is focused on the lady who has these windmill arms flailing and feet skipping side to side.
But that’s not all.
She wants to sing. But there’s a problem with this. (Not that our mom dancing in front of a bunch of kids isn’t already a problem.) There are NO lyrics to The Three Stooges theme song. None. Do you remember them? Right. There are none.
So what does she begin to sing? Her own lyrics. Very loud, “DOOT Da’ DOOT DOOT”, she belts in her off key voice. She sings with compassion and soul. It’s as if she feels the original composers of the Three Stooges theme song should pay her for her lyrics of “DOOT Da’ DOOT DOOT”.
Still smiling she decides to put this all together. She is going to dance out of the room. Singing “DOOT Da’ DOOT DOOT” with flailing windmill arms, a side to side shuffle, and now……she adds a HOP!
Hop. Hop. Hop. (Banging into kids knees) “DOOT Da’ DOOT DOOT”. Windmill arms. Hop. Hop. Hop. (Bruising more kids knees) “DOOT Da’ DOOT DOOT” and she stops. In front of Tina.
Up to this point nothing she did made sense. No parent charges into the TV room, sings and dances. None. But now she wants people to understand her.
You know that big arm swoop “c’mon” gesture? She decided she wanted everyone to know that Tina was her child and she says, “C’mon Tina!” as she swoops her arm in the universal gesture we all use. Now everyone knew the crazy lady was the mom of my sister.
All blood drains out of my face. I freeze.
Tina looked at Marilyne and slowly starts to get up. I suck in my breath, I know what’s going to happen next …
She starts up with the “DOOT Da’ DOOT DOOT” gets the arms moving again, and hop hop hop she stops. Right in front of me.
Big arm gesture and loud voice, “C’mon Lisa!” She’s totally un-phased. Still smiling she continued singing “DOOT Da’ DOOT DOOT” and hopped out the door with her windmill arms.
I couldn’t move. I couldn’t follow her out. I wanted to melt into the vinyl and become one with the wretched TV furniture.
I looked straight ahead at the TV hoping that the kids would think she made a mistake and didn’t remember who her real kids were. Then one kid at the front of the room stands up.
OH MY GOD! I knew him!
Out of all the kids that go to the Y, I never saw anyone I knew. Except today. There was ONE person I knew. It was Steven Skaggs. He lived in our neighborhood.
He yells, “IS SHE ON DRUGS?!”
I’m not a fan of addiction. But in this case it might have been a better explanation. It’s really hard to defend an action like that which isn’t drug induced. But that’s just our mom, unconventional, full of life, and still insisting that what she did was perfectly normal for a happy person that hears music that makes them want to dance.