Even though she didn’t live with us, my mother still tried to nurture me as best she could. Her parental skills weren’t all that great to begin with though, and after she moved out, they pretty much turned into one big train wreck. Regardless of what people might think, she really did love me; she just acted more like a friend most of the time than a mother. Three days after she moved out, she called and told me that according to something she saw on Oprah, we needed to do something life altering so that we could forge a stronger bond between us. She suggested getting matching tattoos. I reminded her that I was twelve and it was illegal. I have enough “Chicken Soup for the Mother/Daughter Blah, Blah, Blah” reference books she’s given me over the years to open my own bookstore and have been tagged in one too many photos of her and I on her Facebook page with the caption “Me and my BFF!”.
People thought it was strange the way the three of us lived, but it worked for us. My dad didn’t have to listen to my mother nagging in his ear all day long about how he never took her anywhere, and my mother was free to do as she pleased while still having a close relationship with us. Some people just aren’t meant to live together. My parents got along much better when there was a twenty-five minute car ride separating them.
Aside from the advice she received from bad talk shows, my mother used the “Parenting with Idioms” book to raise me. Every piece of advice ever given to me was in the form of a one-liner she read in a book or heard Paula Dean use on the Food Network. Unfortunately, they never made sense and were never used in the correct context. When you’re six-years-old and you tell your mother someone at school made you cry and she replies with, “Don’t pee down my back and tell me it’s raining,” you sort of learn to handle things on your own and stop asking for her advice.
When I found out I was pregnant, I didn’t immediately have dreams of being some independent, women’s lib, equal rights, “I don’t shave my legs because the man won’t keep me down” type of person, perfectly content to do things on her own without the help of anyone. I'm not a martyr. As stubborn and self-sufficient as I was, I knew I would need help.
As soon as I took eleventy-billion home pregnancy tests, after drinking a gallon of milk so I would have enough pee for all of them, I realized I needed to hunt this guy down. Of course, this was after I Googled "milk and pregnancy tests" to make sure I didn't just spend thirty-seven minutes of my life staring in horror at positive pregnancy tests littered all over my bathroom that may or may not be correct because pasteurization messed with the hormones in your body and created a false positive.
It doesn't, just in case you were wondering.
I was a twenty-year-old full-time college student, and according to my mother, “You don’t have two nickels to pull out of a duck’s ass with a penny in its name.” My dad, George, worked the same job he had since he was eighteen and made just enough to pay his bills and help me with my room and board. Thank God my dad’s best friend Tim was right all those years ago. I was smarter than I looked and received a full ride to the University of Ohio, so I didn’t have the burden of student loans or grants. Unfortunately though, that meant I went to school full time and worked my ass off, taking twice the course load as other students, leaving no time for a job and no money saved.
In some ways I took after my mother. I wanted more out of my life than waiting tables at Fosters Bar and Grill where I worked all through high school. I wanted to travel, work hard and one day own my own business. Unfortunately, life doesn't throw curveballs; it throws an eight pound, one ounce infant at your face when you're looking the other way. Life is a vindictive little bitch. I was smart enough to know I couldn't do this by myself and wanted more than anything to keep the inconvenience of my mistake away from my dad for as long as possible. Any other woman would probably call her mother to cry and plead for help as soon as the stick turned pink, but at the time, I wasn’t in the mood for my mother to tell me that “Rome was not built with two birds in your bush”. That left me with the person who helped put me into this situation. Unfortunately, I had no idea who the guy was I slept with. I was too mortified by my actions that night to ever repeat the performance so I knew without a doubt Mr. Beer Pong was the father. I just had to find him. Who the hell gave a guy her virginity and never even bothered to ask him what his name was?
Oh yeah, that would be me.
The first day I decided to try and find him was spent talking to every single dumb jock that lived at the frat house where the party occurred. No one there had any clue who I was talking about when I tried to describe this guy and the friend he had with him that night. It could have been due to the fact that everyone I talked to smelled like a brewery and stared at my boobs the entire time I was there. Or maybe it was because I wasn’t fluent in stupid. Really, either option was viable. On the way back to the apartment I shared with Liz, after my hunting expedition, all I wanted to do was kick my own ass. The morning after when I woke up, I felt silly admitting that the feel of his arm wrapped around my waist made me sigh a little. I should have stayed. I should have waited until he woke up, thanked him for a good time and put his number in my phone. But as much as I itched to run my fingers through his hair or slide my hand down his cheek, I knew I couldn't. At that point, I couldn't afford any distractions in my life and that's exactly what he would have been. If we were together, stone-cold sober, I knew I could have easily lost myself in him and forgot everything I had been working towards all my life. I found it was much easier to brush something off and say you did it because you were drunk than admit you made a mistake. I didn't think sleeping with him was a mistake really, just the way I went about it and my actions the next morning. Instead of sticking around, I slithered out from under his arm and the warmth of his body and thought about how bad it would have been if I woke up next to some ugly troll. At least he was hot as hell in the light of day, and I didn't have to perform a coyote ugly and chew my own arm off to get out from under him. I threw on my clothes as fast as I could and left him naked and sound asleep in bed. No one moved as I stepped over the lifeless bodies spread throughout the house and performed the morning-after walk of shame, out the door and into the bright morning light.