Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Apples & Oranges' Marisol has an interesting relationship with her mom...

My mother’s latest plastic surgery left her face looking like a potato.
No, really. It was oversized, comparatively speaking (the woman was a size two for crying out loud), and her skin was pulled tight over surgically-enhanced cheekbones and chin. Though the effect was like an allergen test gone bad, my mother, former eighties’ nighttime actress Annalise DeLoria, wore the hornet attack aftermath proudly.
My mouth dropped open when I saw her.
“Twenty grand well spent,” she announced.
Thirty minutes into lunch, and I was still stupefied by the sight. Her caramel skin looked so uncomfortable, my own face ached just looking at it. And I kept waiting for her head to flop forward, landing face first in her food because of the weight of its man-made parts.
The more Annalise talked—chastising me in Spanish for having the nerve to ask if it was her last procedure since it was lucky number fifteen—the less her lips moved. She looked like a ventriloquist, sitting there calling me a grosera, mocosa egoísta over her untouched, undressed spinach salad. Except that her hand wasn’t up anyone’s ass.
Oh, and she wasn’t calling me a rude, selfish brat for comedic effect. Oh, no. This was all for the sole purpose of knocking me down a peg or two. After all, I had the audacity to show up for our once-per-year luncheon looking younger, prettier, and more human than she did. Never mind that I was thirty years younger. And her daughter.
            Nobody outshone Annalise DeLoria. Not ever.
            “Well, have you found yourself a man, Marisol?” she asked me through frozen lips.
            “I’ve been dating,” I replied cautiously, pushing my smashed red potatoes from one edge of my plate to the other. “Nothing too serious, though.”
            “You do realize how many calories were in your meal, don’t you?” She flared her nostrils at what was left of my salmon filet.
My mother had been dieting for as long as I could remember. One of my earliest memories was of her cussing out my nanny for pouring two percent milk on my cereal. It was no wonder I’d grown up and started my own catering business. Rich, delicious, home-cooked foods at my fingertips every day. Sure, I spent most of my time at the gym working off the foie gras and truffle sauce, but it was worth it. (My super ripped trainer helped, too.) Besides, it was either open a business where I could eat anything I wanted after being forced to diet from the age of seven, or become a hard-core bulimic.
I didn’t like throwing up. It screwed up my lipstick and made my breath stink.
Catering it was.
            I pushed my plate back, no longer hungry. Being around Annalise did that to me. “So tell me about Don.” Maybe asking about my most recent stepfather—the seventh, in case you were wondering—would change the topic. He was a lawyer in L.A. whom she’d met while he handled my fourth stepfather’s tax evasion case. They’d been married all of a year, and I was certain she was cheating on him. I didn’t have high hopes for the longevity of their relationship.
            Annalise waved a manicured hand. “Please. The man barely notices when I’m there.”
            “Well, he is seventy-three, Mother.” I discreetly checked my iPhone for messages, then hid it under my napkin on the table. My business partner, Lexie, was drowning in lobster stuffed mushroom caps, and I needed to get back to work. “I suppose his attention span is only so long anymore.”
            “Well, he certainly noticed his case last month.” She forked a piece of spinach, held it up to her mouth, rethought it, and put it back down. “That’s all he noticed, if you want the truth.”
            I shifted in my chair. My mom had never grasped the concept that most people—normal people—actually work for a living. “Well, I’m sure it was a big case if he—”
            “Want my advice, my dear?” She put down her fork and steepled her fingers. Her gaze was heavy… or maybe that was just the weight of her giant face. I couldn’t be sure.
            “Annalise, uh, Mom, I—”

            She shushed me with the wave of her hand. “Get yourself a man. An older one who’s filthy rich and retired. Who’ll worship you, despite your shortcomings.” Annalise smiled at a waiter passing the table—a gesture that was almost undecipherable because of her puffed face—then pointed at my head. “One that will ignore your crooked nose. Or your muffin top.”