My mother has never been like the other mothers. She has always worn more makeup and different clothes, and she has never been very good at cooking dinner, or signing permission slips, or making decisions. She likes the Lean Cuisines because they have the most appealing names and make her feel the best about herself, and she eats them at the kitchen table putting down her fork between each bite like one of the magazines has told her to. She uses a lot of salt. Once I asked her whether or not she thought that was a good idea and at the same time she took a bite of one of the frozen parts of the meal that hadn’t cooked through.
When I go to my poetry club meetings after school and in the evenings at Mr. Rose’s house she watches Hollywood Insider and Extra and shows about people that she would like to look like, and these are the people she brings pictures of to the salon when she gets her hair cut. She has always made a point to tell me that she’s proud of me that I go to Mr. Rose’s, and that I take AP English as a junior, and that she thinks that the Italian women who work the hair-washing stations at the salon are trashy-looking with their “talon nails”. My mother keeps her nails pretty short. She asks why I do not paint mine.
For my mother’s thirty-fourth birthday this year, she asked for a sushi dinner, and told me I could bring a friend along. I told her I would ask De’Andra, and she asked if there was a boy I would like to bring instead.
Tonight, she sits on the couch, and she is plucking her eyebrows. They are the only hair she has left that is brown. I know, because I have seen it all.