A Gem From The Momma’s Boy Archives

In an ironic fashion twist, the author is wearing a plaid shirt in this photo from the vault.

When I was a little tyke, I was a Momma’s boy.  My three brothers were way more rough-and-tumble than me.  They knew I’d cry at a moment’s notice and cling to Mom like the giant baby I was.  My parents and brothers just accepted that I was a wuss, despite my massive size.  We’ve all got our character traits, and some of mine were hanky-intensive.  Think Baby Huey with eczema.

In the many decades of hard knocks I’ve had since then, I’ve outgrown the sensitivity (or so I’d like to believe), turning into a tough, ornery old cuss, which makes recounting this story all the more difficult.

Despite their acceptance of my wussiness, I occasionally managed to surprise even my brothers by going above and beyond the high standard of cry-baby-osity which I had set the previous week.  For the record, I wasn’t just prone to tears, I was incredibly affectionate when it came to my mother.  I think Mom so enjoyed having a little love-bug around the house, she tolerated my crying fits in fear that if she tried to toughen me up, she might lose her little snuggle bunny in the process.

One day, my mother had to run an errand of some sort.  Someone was in charge of my brothers and me, I don’t know who it was, but it damn sure was not my Mommy.  She was gone.  She’d left the house in her Tartan Plaid skirt and a spiffy white blouse.  I missed her so deeply whenever she left the house that within five minutes, I would convince myself that I would surely be an orphan by morning.  She’d never come home, and I’d be sent to foster homes or orphanages or whatever.

I never took the time to consider that my Dad was still sitting there in the kitchen, busy on a crossword puzzle or grading papers, or that any number of grandparents, aunts and uncles would have taken us in.  Nor did I consider that running to the supermarket for a loaf of generic Wonderbread or auditioning for a community theater production of “Don’t Drink The Water” would likely put her in death’s crosshairs.  I wasn’t one for logic.  I was too busy planning for how I’d make it in the big, cruel world without the unconditional love of Mom.  It was all I could do to hold back the tears at the thought of it.

My brothers and I were out screwing around, looking for Indian arrowheads and 4 leaf clovers in our small, dusty yard in the North Jersey suburbs, which was devoid of any such rarities.  We were just killing time in an era when the black and white Sears TV was almost never on during the daylight hours.  I think one of my brothers had taken to poking a dead bird he’d found with a stick, while the other two watched.  I had drifted toward the sidewalk and was busy avoiding sticker bushes and killer butterflies.

I was undoubtedly trying to keep my mind off of my mother, who had been missing an eternity by that point.  For those who cannot yet tell time, an eternity can happen pretty quickly.  In fairness, for one who’s only been around for a handful of years, an hour or so is actually a pretty substantial fraction of his life.

I lifted my glance from the sparce clumps of crabgrass and saw the most beautiful sight; the Tartan Plaid skirt and white blouse walking right toward me!  I sprinted on my little spindly legs toward her, flinging my arms tight around her thighs, holding on for dear life and never wanting to let go.  I’d been saved from certain orphaning!  After a moment, I was puzzled at the lack of sound from my brothers.  Surely they’d seen her too.  I pulled my face from the scratchy plaid skirt and looked back over my shoulder, and saw my three brothers standing there, the dead bird no longer holding their collective interest.  They were staring at Mom and me with a collective look of confusion and surprise.  Not understanding their expressions, I turned my face upward to search for an answer in the face of my dear mother, only to discover that I was hugging a man.  He had an orange, furry beard and mustache and wore an odd, plaid hat which matched his skirt.  Until that point in my young life, I was unaware that men of certain cultures will occasionally dress up in kilts.  He was looking down at me with a facial expression not terribly different from that of my brothers.  His orange beard and bushy eyebrows made him look especially terrifying.

I released my bear hug on this stranger and ran from him as though I’d seen a fire-haired ghost, tripping and stumbling back to the relative safety of the yard.  My brothers had either figured out that I had mistaken a big, bearded Celt for my mother or that I was hugging a strange man in a kilt for no reason.  In any case, they were rolling in the grass in fits of hysterical laughter.  The big scary man straightened his kilt and scowled at us for a moment before walking on his way.

After a time, my mother returned.  Life got back to normal until the next time she had to run an errand.  My saving grace was that true to form, within a week or two, I’d outdone myself and replaced the stranger-hugging episode with yet another even more embarrassing exhibition of foolishness or crybaby behavior.  My brothers likely still recall that story, but they’ve got so many other ones to choose from that it might never come up again.

45 responses

  1. Hahaha! It is so great that you can laugh at yourself! I vaguely remember doing that same thing! It is so common for little ones to do that. It happened several times to a little girl at a picnic this summer! She was so startled every time! At least she didn’t have brother’s to torment her about it afterward. :)

  2. I actually wrote this a month or so ago for a contest. I’d intended to draw an llustration for it, but my neck had other ideas. The thought of having not posted for a couple of weeks was driving me crazy, so I put this up there.

  3. What a fabulous story. You had me hanging on by every word. You have a knack for description and for pacing and for keeping one in suspense, no matter if the story is true or not. Is this one true? If so, I can understand why it’s lasted in your memory so many years.

    Thanks for a delightful read. :)

  4. I loved this story, Dave. Your descriptions are so intense! I am convinced my mother never, ever left the house…every memory I have is of her at home. And that is both comforting and somehow sad for me. My sister and I have very different memories of most events – or at least different perspectives, but luckily for me I have lots of ammunition on her.

    I do hope you are feeling better soon. Real soon.

  5. Jeez Dave I never saw the Celt coming and now all I can think of is a little boy with his arms wrapped around “Fat Bastard” from the Austin Powers movie. No doubt a nightmare is in my future. Love the photo…the 2 in the back look like laughers!

  6. I know all about Momma boys. I married one! He’s the youngest of four…with three older sisters. He didn’t get the abuse you got while growing up (and still do) with your brothers but he almost killed one of his sisters when she dressed him up as a girl when he was ten and took him to the local grocery store telling him there was a deal on chocolate but only for girls.

    I don’t think she dressed him in a kilt. :)

    • My brothers don’t bust my chops as much as I’d like. We’re all spread across the four corners of the world. Once in a great while we see each other and sooner or later the stories start. Fortunately, Momma’s boys aren’t the only ones who do embarrassing things throughout the childhood years.

  7. I am so glad you posted this gem of a story! (shhh…don’t tell anyone, but your story was one of the most well-written in my contest) Love that photo of you and your brothers. All I can say is, your poor, poor mom. My mom had five sons and I do believe that is why she’s half-crazy today.

    • As I wrote earlier, submitting an embarrassing story about being embarrassed into a contest for embarrassing stories and then not making the finals was more embarrassing than the actual story. As you may have noticed, i took the “Groundskeeper Willie” references out, as I felt that it would confuse any Simpsons-challenged readers.

      As for my own mother’s sanity, I’ll defer commenting as she has yet to be examined in my blogs. I never thought of her as crazy, but she has never been described as “typical” either.

  8. I remember doing the whole “wait, you’re not my mom” thing in the grocery store, but never that extreme. That’s great.

    How did you mom feel about the fact that the muscular, hairy legs you were clutching didn’t arouse suspicion?

    • It all happened so fast, Dr. Phil. Looking back, I know I should have noticed, but I was so happy to see her. Do you think there could be a connection between this and my being nauseated by bagpipe music? And please, no haggis references.

  9. Well, you probably won’t be surprised by my reaction. I think it’s adorable, both the young boy’s love for his mother and the grown man willing to share the telling of it. Thanks.

      • Thank you. I like that description. Although I wouldn’t change anything, there’s a part of me that misses the girl in those photos. I had forgotten about her. :) Perhaps there’s a part of you that misses the little boy you wrote about too. No need to write back but I do wish you the best with your neck.

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