Well, Filibuster's college tuition suddenly went up two hundred dollars a month. I sent her a message on Facebook the other day: “Call them and see what's up.”
She messaged me back. “I don't know who to call.”
“Can you?” She wrote.
* * *
Whenever it was her turn to host the bi-monthly Bridge Club meeting, I avoided my mother as much as possible. Because I knew, as we got closer to the date penned in on the calender hanging on the fridge, Mom would turn to one of us and smile. “Could you call the Bridge Ladies and remind them of the meeting?”
I hated this duty. These were my mother's friends, not mine, I reasoned. She was just being lazy, I told myself as I took out the address book and flipped to the first name on the list my mother had written. I acted angry. The truth was, I was scared. I was clumsy at these sorts of things.
The handset felt heavy. My hands shook as I put my index finger in the rotary dial. My tongue was thick and I tripped over my lines in each of the seven calls I had to make.
“Thank you,” my mother would say, once I had finished.
I'd grumble something incoherent. But inside, I was secretly proud.
Two weeks later, the house would take on a festive mood. Mom would bring snacks home from the grocery store: bags of potato chips; boxes of doo dads; great plastic bottles of pop, setting them on the counter with a warning that we only once ignored: This is for Bridge.
The day of the meeting, my sisters and I would set up the card table and wash the punch bowl. We'd wipe down chairs and find unopened decks of cards. We'd sample the punch before Mom added the rum. We'd set out ashtrays: orange melamine and the owl with his great hollow eyes and the hook that held the top to the bottom.
My sisters and I fluttered about, pouring snacks into wooden bowls shaped like diamonds. And then, just after the dinner dishes were tucked away, my father would head out to the barn and the ladies would arrive, pant-suited and lipsticked, clutching packs of cigarettes with a book of matches stuck inside the cellophane.
My sisters and I took coats and poured drinks, basking in the praise bestowed upon us. We handed out napkins and picked up lipstick-stained punch glasses. We pretended not to listen to the gossip swirling thickly around the room with the cigarette smoke.
Halfway through the evening, my father would return to the house and greet the ladies, quickly making his way into the den, and putting the television on low.
Too soon, my sisters and I would be ushered off to bed. We listened as the ladies finished their game and headed off into the night.
* * *
And now, as I wait for Filibuster to make that call, I realize that my mother wasn't being lazy in making us make those calls to Bridge Group.
She was helping us to lay a bridge towards our future selves: a bridge of confidence and competence
A bridge of independence.