I Don’t Tell Yo Momma Jokes, I Tell My Momma Jokes
A lot of the things I say would sound terrible out of context. And in context. I’m a nice person really. But only on the outside. Sometimes not even that. I’ve murdered so many people in my head. Including my mother. I don’t hate my mom, but she drove me crazy for a few years, which was a bit like trying to contain a violent alcoholic. Sometimes I exploded and punched a door so hard it fell off the wall. That only happened twice. I feel like I did well.
Then my dad screwed back the door onto the wall without saying a word because he’s a nice guy who understands rage. That sounds horrible but it really isn’t. He’s never violent. When he gets angry, he’s just silent. He doesn’t punch you in the face, but the silence sure as hell makes you feel like he did. You don’t have to apologize, he doesn’t want that shit. You just have to wait between 48 and 72 hours. I’ve got too many memories of those hours. It’s not that there are a lot of them, it’s just that they are the ones that stick with you forever.
When I was about halfway through my teens my mom started to piss me off for seemingly no reason. Let me be clear, my mom wouldn’t be trying to piss me off, although it did feel like that and still does sometimes, but everything she did, regardless of what it was, would piss me off. Questions like “Empty the dishwasher, will you?” and “Could you take out the trash?” would drive me insane.
I was convinced that the way she drank a glass of water, her lips pursed so tight I doubt any water could actually get into her mouth, she did it that way to put me into a fit of rage. Yes, I was fucking insane. I am fucking insane. It still happens, even though I don’t spend much time at home anymore.
It was different with dad. He didn’t piss me off in the same way. Although when it happened, it scared me. He asked me to do something around the house once. The usual red-hot surge of rage I got when mom spoke to me ran through me like fire. But this was dad speaking, then why did this inexplicable rage flow through me? Sure, we had been growing apart for the last two years, but for me to feel the same kind of anger I always associated with mom had never been a part of that.
That moment served as confirmation of what I had always known. It was me. It had always been me. Mom was more or less the same person she always had been. I had changed and I was getting furious for no reason. That’s when I knew that I had to get out, as soon as possible, before things got out of hand. And just such a possibility popped up as I got accepted to go to university in London. If I got the grades I needed, which wasn’t supposed to be too difficult, I would be out of their hair by early fall.
Surprise, surprise, I didn’t get the grades I needed. I thought I had, but I must’ve misunderstood the conditions. The whole thing was quite odd, because the following year when I applied again, I was interviewed over the phone, and then invited to take a test and be interviewed in person. The test was ridiculously easy, and the interview went great. I was in. But for the time being, in the fall of 2012, I had to go with my plan B, which was Stockholm University, which meant I’d be staying at home for another year. I had found out I hadn’t made it into my London university of choice online in my room, and I walked through the living room and into the kitchen to tell mom. She saw how struck down I was.
“Do you need to cry a bit?” She asked.
“I tried, I couldn’t,” I said. This was true, I tried to push out the tears as if I was sitting on the toilet trying to perform a bowel movement, but nothing happened. Mom chuckled. The weird thing was that we were both dreading this. We didn’t know how to be around each other in our own home, and now we had to do exactly that for at least another year.
As I said, I eventually got into the university I wanted. Dad had to be the translator between mom and me when she shared with him just how much I was crushing her will to live. I wasn’t totally against her existence, just a genuine skeptic.
“I just hope that our relationship is something we can save when we don’t have to live together anymore. If that’s not a possibility, then… I’ll guess we will be saying farewell in a year,” I said to dad. He was sitting on the kitchen couch, I was at the table. It was late, the sky outside the windows was pitch black, the windows only serving as a blurry mirror of ourselves as we, as so many times before, tried to salvage what could be saved of the wreckage that was my relationship to my mother.
“How can you think like that!?” He was genuinely shocked.
Oh, I’m sorry that I’m a bit cynical while you are the kind of person who cares for the wellbeing of snails and spiders. He really did. It was incredibly annoying. He couldn’t talk about his feelings, but he also couldn’t step on a spider. I knew how to express my feelings, at least more than he ever could, but I also never ruled out a career as a hitman specializing in brutal murders of small children. My nickname would be “The Dentist” because I would pull their teeth out with a wrench before holding their tiny heads under the surface in a tub of old hobo piss until there were no more bubbles. I’d be wearing gloves, of course, I’m not that disgusting.
“If our lives will be better for both of us if we go our separate ways, then that’s the way it’s going to be.”
“But for Christmas and other holidays, you’re just not going to see each other, or what?”
“Maybe I won’t be home for Christmas.”
“What do you mean?”
“Maybe I’ll be unavailable.”
You mean dead, said the voice.
Yes, that’s what I mean, but I can’t tell him that. That’s like the first rule of being a kid. Being a son 101, Lesson 1: Don’t tell your dad that you’re planning to kill yourself if you don’t succeed at life.
“What, you’re going to be away for every holiday for the rest of our lives?” Dad asked.
“I don’t know, stop pestering me,” I said exasperated, genuinely stumped by this predicament.
After my high school graduation, there was of course the obligatory reception at the house, something I deplored since there would be questions like “What are you gonna do now?” and “Where’s the party tonight?” Questions I had no answers to because I was a fucking loser with no friends. I accidentally threw a drink at dad because I thought my glass was empty when it was actually half full, as a result of which I started looking for the most ideal place to hang a noose because I had seemed to be off my face when I wasn’t.
My cousin brought her boyfriend, they were both a year younger than myself, but somehow had more going on than I did. I got a very nice set of pens and a moleskin notebook from my cousins, Haha, because I’m gonna be a journalist, how applicable, even though everything is done on laptops now, great! Later that night when it was all over, I heard my mother’s footsteps outside my bedroom door, I scrambled to shut down my web browser, not because I was watching porn (Wow, really? Yes, really), but because I didn’t want her to comment on what I was doing, whatever it was. I didn’t want her to comment on anything. I wanted the interaction to be over as soon as possible. She walked in and just stood there for a moment.
“What’s it like writing with the new pen?” I think I may have died a little. Not just a little. A lot. The rage that sentence caused me is indescribable. Fucking homicidal. Well, would you look at that, apparently, I could describe it. I should’ve moved the pen. That way mom wouldn’t have had anything to say about the state of my room since it would have been in the exact same state as the last time she entered it.
She coming into my room to say goodnight had become an elaborate game of find five faults, or any faults at all for that matter. Since her trivial mind couldn’t come up with anything of value to say, she just looked around the room for something to say about it. It drove me fucking insane. This is why I should’ve moved that fucking pen so that we would just have had our mandatory fifteen seconds of silence before she realized that whatever relationship we had was now gone and she fucks off again. I just sat there, waiting for her to leave, frozen. Inside my mind, I was screaming my head off and tearing the walls down.
On the outside, I just sat there, like a fucking statue of rage and fire. It’s not like I didn’t want her to be there, not having a mom when you’re growing up seems awful. I just wanted to kill her and have my mother too. It’s a bit like how everyone wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die. Well, not everyone. I don’t believe in heaven and I actually did want to die.
And of course, suicide bombers want to die as well but those motherfuckers are crazy. And what’s the thing with 72 virgins? If you’re gonna kill yourself, don’t you wanna get 72 women who actually know what they’re doing instead of 72 girls who have never seen a penis before and are kind of scared of it?
Maybe that’s what gets them off?
Scaring girls with their penises?
Yeah, it would make sense since they seem to enjoy scaring people with dynamite strapped to their bellies. Maybe the boom makes them cum?
Mom loved suggesting things she knew I hated whenever I asked what there was to eat.
“How about this cabbage thingy?” Tomatoes were also something she would constantly offer me despite the fact that I had only eaten one in at least a decade. She saw a big red button and decided to stomp on it. I would actually try to eat some of it but couldn’t stop myself from gagging.
She still wouldn’t cut me any slack. I went out for a bit, I needed some air. I came back in, showered, and sat down at my desk. I felt a twinge of hunger. Knowing that I could barely function and never concentrate while being even the tiniest bit hungry, I went out into the kitchen and opened the fridge and stared at its innards, surveying it, trying to find something edible. When I had tried for about half a minute mom finally decided it was time to speak. “I still think that you should try and eat that thing on the stove.” She meant the cabbage. I felt the anger mount in an instant, I closed the fridge door and started walking out the room.
“No don’t go!” I ignored her, kept walking, and sat down in front of my desk again. Mom came shortly after. “Why does it have to be like this? I don’t understand why just a simple issue like food can turn into such a big deal?”
“You know it isn’t the food.”
“Yes, but I still don’t get why you’re like this. I mean you’ve said that you know that you’re a douchebag most of the time, but still, the months go by and nothing changes!” She was crying now. This was the third, or maybe fourth time I had seen my mother cry, but she had never cried like this in front of me before.
This was different. Tears were streaming down her face in a constant flow and she had to grab a napkin from my desk to dry out her now red eyes. “I don’t like being treated like this, it’s not worthy of a human being. I miss you!”
“I don’t understand what you can miss. We’ve never really had anything to lose. You must miss the eight-year-old me, the little boy. Since then, sports have been my life and I was never home because of that. And since I quit, I’ve spent most of my time in here, so we haven’t seen much of each other because of that. But you can’t say that nothing has happened. Our relationship has been crap for over two years, and yes that’s mostly my fault. But in the beginning, I used to shout back at you, call you stupid and shove you out of the way. I don’t do that anymore. I just walk away. That has to be better than downright abuse?”
“Yes, it is, but I wish we could be in the same room together. I miss you, you the person.”
“I still don’t understand, what’s the difference? What can you miss? I mean we exchange a sentence or two every other week, no, it’s more than that, I think we’ve made some progress.”
“But I just want some everyday chit chat, not that we barely talk for two weeks.”
“You know I hate that trivial bullshit.”
“But I don’t know where else to start, to me that everyday chit chat is the lowest of the low when it comes to being with each other. But I’d love to discuss other things with you, less trivial things…” I ignored her last attempt at contact and thought that since I lived on the internet and was actually engaged in the news, and mom wasn’t too well-read, and probably wouldn’t have a clue about anything that I would bring up. And then, when I was being honest with myself, I didn’t see her as all that bright either.
“It’s hard when I get angry so easily, I can’t exactly stop myself from getting angry. I’ve said to myself countless times that, ‘Okay try to be nice now, I’m not going to become angry anymore.’ It never changes anything. It just doesn’t work like that.”
“What happens if you drill in that anger a bit, what happens if you stay in the room and try to come to terms with why you get so angry?” This was the million-dollar-question, a question I didn’t even have a semblance of an answer to, except for that I found her entire demeanor incredibly annoying.
“It just hits you in the face like a brick.”
“What hits you in the face like a brick?”
“The fact that I become so angry so fast and so easily and eventually, I explode and start to alleviate it physically.”
“What does that mean, how does that look?”
“Well, I’ve punched this bedroom door off its hinges twice, I’ve broken the armrest on my couch, but that was because my Xbox didn’t work, then when I try to not brake anything I really just manhandle the pillows on my couch, oh and one time when it was in the middle of the night and I couldn’t make any noise for fear of waking people up, I rocked myself to sleep in the fetal position, arms wrapped around my legs and grinding my teeth. I would’ve cried too, but I wasn’t able to.”
“But why do you get so angry, if you put words to it, what would it sound like?”
I sat quietly staring at the lamppost above the gable on the other end of the house, the only source of light except for the sunlight bouncing off the moon.
“It isn’t easy is it?” she asked. I thought about saying that I was still mad about still being here, about not having gotten away yet, but moving out wasn’t even on the map two years ago when the whole thing started so that didn’t really make sense.
Instead, I said: “What’s scaring me is that it’s not just you anymore, I’ve started to get angry at dad in the same way, while he, years ago, could say pretty much anything and it was okay.”
“He couldn’t say anything, he could still get you sad and angry,” she argued.
“No, not anything, okay, but you know what I mean, it has gotten worse. Now sometimes, very rarely, but still, it has happened that I’ve gotten annoyed with him, in the same way you annoy me. And it scares me because we used to be so close. This might sound odd, but I’m just going to try to explain, wait, not explain, I don’t know, I just mean that I don’t think that you realize that this whole thing is probably worse for me than it is for you. You stand here crying, but being angry isn’t easy either. I hate it. But I can’t stop myself. It depletes me, and I get tired, so, so tired. But what I don’t get is how you can say that months pass and I do nothing to change the situation. What about you? The other day when you wanted to make the dog go after me and I shut the door in your face, you said that I shouldn’t be stupid with the dog, and then I said that it was you who was being stupid, and then you answered with: ‘And that’s how it’s going to stay.’ What the hell does that mean? That you’re going to nag me forever, no matter how angry I get? That you’re going to do nothing, that all responsibility to fix this is on me?”
“No, it was stupid of me to say it like that. But even if you think I’m a fool when I’m being silly with the dog, I’m not going to stop being silly with her. I just don’t know what you want me to be like, what do you want me to do?”
“I don’t know.”
“I love you, you know I do.”
“Mm.” It was the only thing I could get out.
I was about to say it back when I realized I wasn’t sure if I did love her at all. I knew dad loved me. He had never said it, or at least I can’t remember it ever happening. No matter what I did, he was supportive and wanted to be involved in some way. Mom was never like that. She always took a step back. Sure, dad and I had more interests in common which made things a lot easier. We skied together, talked politics and history, and just mucked about.
It was easier to hang out with him. It was easier to talk about feelings till 3 am in the morning with mom, but that wasn’t a thing you could do every week. He always had feedback to give when asked, and sometimes even unprompted. He even found my YouTube channel, without me telling him about it. That bastard googled me. He came with advice on how he thought I could do it better. Sure, that can be annoying too, but at least he took an interest in what I was doing, something mom never did.
She would ask me about what I was doing, whereas dad would find out what I was doing on his own when asking wasn’t yielding satisfactory results because I was a moody teenager. The difference in the amount of effort each put in was staggering. My mom would say that she loved me, whereas my dad would show it. Show don’t tell, is what they say make a good story, isn’t it? I’ve been telling you a lot, so this whole thing must be a pile of garbage by that standard.
Anyway, when I asked dad for help with essays, he went through them three times and asked for newer, better versions as soon he was done poking and prodding. Some might call it intervening and pushing a bit too hard, but I liked that I barely had to ask him to help me with something for him to put his heart into it and push me to do it as well as possible.
He was even up for things that I hadn’t decided that I was going to do yet, things I was just considering, things I was just thinking about, being almost more excited than I was, although that wasn’t saying much. I had never felt that level of support from mom. She was simply not involved in my life, she only wanted to know a thing or two once in a while and seemed to be fine with that.
Until now, when our relationship was gasping for its last breaths, she seemed to be willing to do anything to save it. What made it hard was that I remained skeptical. I didn’t really think that there was anything of value to save.
“What’s the difference between talking to me and talking to dad?” She asked once.
“When I talk to dad, I get something back. If I tell an anecdote about Mitt Romney, I get one back about Richard Nixon. When I talk to you, I get nothing back. You don’t even understand what I’m talking about, and when you start asking questions that are obvious to me, it’s annoying because then I’m lecturing, not talking. It turns into a monologue, not a discussion.”
I don’t remember exactly how the following happened, but I had just made some joke about cooking in the kitchen and got a good laugh, and then mom decided to pitch in and “joke,” it was more like a passive-aggressive charge of misconduct, that she’s the one who always has to do the dishes afterward. I gave up on life within a fraction of a second. She sucks all the joy, all the amusement out of life. She manages to be the happiest person in the family but at the same time the most negative. Ignorance is bliss, I guess.
You know, after a while I had every reason to believe that my mother was as socially inept, if not more so than I was. She didn’t seem to understand that what she was doing was pissing me off, even if it was for exceedingly dumb reasons. Or she just refused to understand or take it into account. She was just as stubborn as I was, but I was an immature boy in my late teens, and she was a woman in her late 40s. It didn’t really add up.
She said once that she didn’t care about how angry I got, that she wasn’t gonna do anything about it. It made me question who she was.
“When you said that you don’t care anymore about how annoyed and angry I get, that you weren’t even gonna try to change anything, I felt like you gave up. You said earlier that you aren’t exactly ‘mom-like’ as a person, and when you said that you didn’t care how hard it is for me to not split open with rage, even though I’ve said, more than once, that it’s 100 percent my fault, I felt like… like you weren’t my mother anymore. Be the grown-up, mom, please. Be the adult. Because right now, I can’t be.” I can’t remember what she said back. Probably because she didn’t say anything back. I mean, what would you say to that, really?
It was the twelfth of October, a year after I had quit all sports. It was the first time dad and I shared a smoke. It was like when he wanted me to drink with him, only a lot less problematic. Clara once said he only offers me beers “because he doesn’t want to be drunk alone,” when the women don’t drink. She is a master at making anyone feel like shit. Just amazing. Not that what she says isn’t true, but she says it with such disgust in her voice, face, and entire being, that you immediately start searching for a place to hang yourself.
She’s probably so good at it because she feels like shit about herself, and so, just like dad not wanting to be drunk alone, she doesn’t want to hate herself alone, she wants everyone around her to hate themselves with her. And she makes it happen. She does it so, so well. I had smoked before, but not with dad. Shortly after I turned 18, I walked up to the grocery store and got some smokes. The cashier asked for my ID. I gave it to her. It took her about four years for her to figure out I was of legal age.
“Ok, so you can buy then.” I hated her for her condescension. I went down to the lake and smoked a few cigars. Well, they weren’t really cigars. They were cigarillos. Dad smoked two brands of cigarillos, cigars the size of cigarettes. Ritmeister and Bellman. When I got home, he could smell it on me. “Have you been smoking?” I could smell it on myself to be honest.
“Yeah.” And that was it. The first time dad and I shared a smoke was in October that same year. We were both slightly drunk, and I had been gone from the world of sports for long enough to ask what I had been wondering for quite some time.
“Hey, when you said you thought I could do well in all those different sports, you were lying right? You did it just to be supportive? I’m not mad or anything, it’s just that looking back, it seems clear that I was never going to make it.”
“Nope, I really did believe you could go all the way.”
“Cool.” I believed him because I wanted to, just like I did back when I was still playing.
I often turned my relationship with my mother into a joke, both because it was a laughable attempt at a mother-son relationship, but also because humor is the only way I know how to deal with the less than amazing things in my life. Many girls have a must-love-mom-policy when it comes to guys, and sure, I love my mom, I think, but at the same time, I want to smash her face in with a frying pan.
We were united only in our inability to live with each other. She drove me insane by being herself and trying to make me a decent human being. There’s no point, it’s a lost cause! Why couldn’t she just be happy with the asshole I am? She actually seems to be happy with the asshole I am, she seems to enjoy my tomfuckery when it’s not directed at her, which it mostly is. Back then, it often felt like my rage connected to her entire being was completely irrational, which in turn drove me even more insane. It was a vicious circle.
After a while, she just laughed when I told her to fuck off. And then she probably cried, but at least she didn’t do that to my face more than a few times. The woman who would come to be my wife said it well: “I think most girls think that if a guy treats their mother well, they will treat them well. But I don’t need you to love your mom, I don’t want you to love me like you would love your mom, that would be creepy as fuck.”
I loved my mom but at the same time, I hated her, because everything she did made me want to crush her face, and then promptly hang myself. And I told her that, which made her laugh and I loved her for that, but then she told me to empty the dishwasher which made me want to kick her in the cunt. It’s not the fact that she told me to empty the dishwasher it’s the way she said it. My mom is loving and dead inside at the same time.
When my sister was in the process of moving out, she cried because her apartment floor was fucked, and mom was equally “Come here” and “Grow up, you whiney bitch.” As a result, I could feel comfortable being extremely harsh to her. Most often she took it in stride. I came into the kitchen for breakfast one morning many years ago, Clara and mom were talking about Clara’s friend Isabella, who was expecting a baby at 23 years of age.
“For some, it just makes sense to be a mom at that age and for her it certainly makes sense. She’s such a mom and always has been, it doesn’t have to apply to everyone, and not everyone wants to be a mom as much as she does.” I laughed, looked at my mother, and said: “No, it certainly doesn’t apply to everyone.” She laughed too and said with an edge: “I love you people.”
It was late one night in the waning days of my unsalvageable basketball career. I was just in my underwear, my laptop already in my bed, it was about to aid me in my attempt to release some stress. You know what I’m talking about, wink, wink, Honka, Honka. I was just about to shut the door, but someone was on the other side, holding it open. I peered around the door.
“You can’t make so much noise,” she said. I had no idea what she was talking about. I had been doing some lunges to deal with my broken knees, but that was it. I wanted to rip out her throat, tear her head off her torso and play soccer with it, but instead, I said: “I couldn’t be quieter!” She looked at me disbelievingly.
“That doesn’t matter,” she said and left the room.
I wanted to scream and shout, break things, murder people, bludgeon them until they were unrecognizable for even their closest friends and loved ones. I wanted to blow up the fucking world. Instead, I let myself fall into my bed, I curled up, put my arms around my legs, and started to rock back and forth in the fetal position. I was so, so, so, so, so angry. And I was so, so, so tired of being angry.
I was lying on the bed, the duvet on the floor, my arms squeezing my legs so hard they were going white. I was trying not to break the world apart. I was failing. The world was breaking, or at least mine was. Or maybe it was my mind that was breaking. Yeah, that was probably it. But my mind was my world, so essentially, the world was in fact breaking. This couldn’t go on. I know lots of people cut their connection with their parents but that’s usually because the parents are cunts.
My parents weren’t cunts. I knew it was me. But I couldn’t handle it. And the anger was taking its toll. Mom ONLY spoke to me when she wanted something done or when she thought she needed to correct me (not once was she correct). Only the response to that shouldn’t be unquenchable tantrums like some common toddler. I hated her, everything she did enraged me and I didn’t know why. I still don’t. There never came an end. Just a different set of circumstances.
There’s a hole in your boxers, one of your balls is hanging out. The voice in the back of my head thought this was a great time to point this out as I lay in bed trying to control my anger. I plopped my ball back into my underwear with my index finger.
Everyone gets angry once in a while.
So, you’re saying that no one has ever killed themselves because they’re a danger to the people around them?
Are you trying to make your own suicide valid?
Isn’t it valid?
It is, I don’t want to be alive anymore.
Lots of people think they want to be alive because they are too stupid to realize that their existence is pointless.
God, you’re an asshole.
After it turned out I hadn’t got into my first choice of university and would be staying at home for another year, I needed a new desk chair. On my way to get it, I crashed the car into a family with two small kids. They were also in a car, fortunately. I rear-ended them going down a hill in the pouring rain.
I slammed the brakes as hard as I could, but it was too late and I slid into them. I stopped to talk to them on the side of the road, but everything seemed fine, they and their kids were all good, and the major damage was made to the front of my parents’ car and not to the back of theirs. One of the most frustrating things about my dad is his mix of overwhelming support and devastating skepticism and how quickly he can switch between them while completely forgetting where his mind was just minutes earlier.
Once I got home and told my parents what happened, mom was mostly concerned with my wellbeing, dad was more concerned with the wellbeing of the vehicle.
“Well at least you’re alright,” she said. Dad was laying on the couch, looking perturbed. His silent disappointment was actively killing me.
“What if something had happened?” Mom carried on trying to figure out what a concerned mother should sound like in real-time.
“Yeah, what if I had killed a baby?” I said to brighten the mood.
“No, I mean, what if something had happened to you.”
“Yeah, that would’ve been preferable.”
“Would you prefer to kill a baby?”
“No, I would prefer to die, rather than killing a baby.”
“You just can’t talk like that,” she said, revealing the limitations of her mind.
“Yeah, you do, don’t you?”
I thought that I would rather die even without killing a baby, but I didn’t say that. I just liked to drop subtle hints to see what happened. They never really responded, they had obviously accepted that I was a bit dead inside. Or they didn’t know how to do deal with it and thought that to do nothing was their best course of action.
Mom would often insist on talking to me, despite my obvious lack of interest. She asked me to change for her, but she never attempted to change for me. When she did try to take an interest in something I was into, she did it in the most inane, most asinine, most idiotic way possible. For instance, during the 2016 election, several times she came into the kitchen saying: “Now I’ve listened to Trump for 20 minutes.” WHO THE FUCK JUST LISTENS TO DONALD TRUMP SPEAK?!?!? Nobody did that, except the people in the arena, and the people unlucky to be stuck at an airport with CNN on their monitors.
But no one sought out his speeches for the sole reason of taking an interest in someone else’s interests. She deplored the man, but thought it would inform her about the American election? What the actual fuck? You listen to some analysis by people who know a thing or two, not just speeches by the most uninformed candidate for president in American political history. They weren’t even speeches, just the ramblings of a madman.
How that could’ve been her best idea of how to inform herself about the American election is beyond me. I guess the reason she tried to keep up with the news in even the stupidest ways was that she tried for a long time to talk to me about everyday things, trivial things. Nothing made me more homicidal than questions about nothing, questions about things that didn’t matter. Once she tried to talk to me about the neighbors. “From what I heard, apparently they had been gone a week…”
So trivial, I thought to myself, trying to make it very obvious that I was reading the paper. She would always interrupt my reading, start to read aloud from her part of the paper, and expect everyone to listen and chime in. In the morning, I’m not human, I can’t be talked to, but she refused to stop. It drove me crazy.
“…and when they got home they found…”
“…a cat in their glassed-in patio…”
“…and apparently the neighbor’s cat had been gone a week…”
No depth, no anything.
“…It was quite upset of course, with no food or water for a week…”
I wonder what it must be like, with a mind that never leaves the surface of human consciousness, which must be brought deeper by something, someone else, which is unable to focus on something remotely relatable to something that actually matters. (God, I was a cunt).
“…that made me think of that time when the cat ran out of our backdoor, we didn’t even know it was in the house, how easy would it be to leave it in there, do you remember?”
“Mm,” She had got me to speak. I had lost.
“Now I shan’t talk anymore so you can get back to your reading,” she got the hint. Finally. Half a second passed. “Did you get wet tonight?”
“But it didn’t rain for very long did it?”
“Because I started mowing the lawn yesterday, but I only did the corner because then the neighbors across the meadow came out to eat dinner and I thought that they shouldn’t have to listen to that. So I went and did some things inside but then when I came out again, it was so late that I thought that I have to get to work and get those things I needed printed out and when I got back the time was much too late to mow the lawn. And then I heard it started raining and I thought oh no, but it didn’t seem to have been that much. What about you? You were writing before, what was that?”
“Nothing special.” (It was this.)
“Oh come on, give me something.”
“Nah, it was nothing.”
“I assume you are planning to put back those jars in the kitchen.”
“Give me a question you want to answer.” Now she was asking me to annoy myself for her. The nerve.
Does she feel she need to share everything in her tiny brain, even when it has no substance at all, which is all the time. Why does she keep talking about complete bullcrap when I make it so obvious that I’m not interested? And why do I keep coming to her, when every time I don’t want to talk, she bores me with long speeches for stupid people, and when I actually want to ask her something, I only get answers I don’t want.
Why does she insist on trying to build a relationship that can never exist? We’re on two different levels, it’s never going to work. We have great talks sometimes, mostly because I do most of the talking but also because they have substance. And who brings that substance? I do. Every. Single. Time. She contributes, yes, but I’m always the initiator of the talks that actually take us somewhere. Is this what ordinary people talk about?
Cats, and grass cutting, and rain’s effects on grass cutting? It doesn’t surprise me that I don’t want that. What does surprise me is how many people can stand it. Including my parents. How do they live their lives without going insane from the realization of failure? How does a normal mind work? Do they even have these thoughts? Or anything close to it? Am I alone in a sea of idiots?
There are clever people in this world, I’ve met a few of them, do they have these kinds of thoughts? Take GYLC-André for example. He doesn’t strive to reach the top, he strives for everyone to reach the top. What the fuck is that? Communism. And he has never even dreamt about becoming prime minister or anything like that, he doesn’t even see himself in that kind of a position. Am I the only one who aims impossibly high and then just goes for it? I can’t be.
Mom came out of the bath once with a thought that blew my mind, since it was nothing, but it was presented as something. The meaninglessness was taken to a new level.
“When you lie there philosophizing, I had a thought, how do you clean under the bathtub?” She said to the room at large. We had one of those all-encompassing bathtubs with no clear way to reach under it. Seriously, that’s what you think about? She kinda outdoes herself when it comes to trivial thoughts, and that wasn’t even a good trivial thought. Not exactly hard to come up with. Even so, it took her a while to do it.
I don’t even have to be a part of a trivial conversation for it to drive me crazy.
“Guess what I found under the tub? First, I just saw a leaf, then it became a leaf with a shell on it. Turns out it was a snail. Apparently, it got stuck under there.”
“Poor thing,” dad said. In that moment I hated how gentle and caring he was. He always picked up spiders with a glass and paper and let it go outside. JUST KILL IT! How that gentle fuck raised what has become the person I am is beyond me.
One evening I was cooking for myself for once, mom decided it was a great idea to come and stand right next to me, breathing over my shoulder.
“Make sure you don’t spill anything on the stove.”
“Make sure it doesn’t get burnt.”
“You really should use a different spatula.”
“This frying pan is fragile, remember that.”
“Make sure you remember to clean up when you’re done.”
I picked up the heavy frying pan with both hands and took a swing. The food went everywhere, as did her face. One swing. That was all it took. One swing and she was gone. She must have disappeared on impact because once she hit the floor, her body was limp. There was nothing left. Her face wasn’t deformed really, but a pool of blood was forming around her head. I leaned against the counter. I wasn’t freaking out or panicking, I may just have killed my mother, but I knew everything I was going to be okay.
Well, that was graphic.
I blame society.
Of course, you do.
And those bloody video games.
Hey, I play those.
But I play them so rarely and I suck so hard they can hardly be blamed.
Shouldn’t you clean that up? The blood and the body?
No, this isn’t real remember?
Oh yeah, this is the inside of your head innit?
How do ya like it in here?
There’s an extreme lack of realism.
That’s the point of being in here, isn’t it? I thought. The voice chuckled.
I guess so. I like it. Admittedly it’s a bit violent and bloody, but apart from that, it’s really quite nice.
Hey, thanks. Are you enjoying the raw cynicism?
Ah yes, that’s one of the best parts.
But you do know of course that if you actually kill your own mom, you will have to kill yourself too, right?
Yes of course, who kills their own mom without killing themselves afterward?
Lots of people.
Well, that’s just rude.
Very. It’s very rude. People have no manners, it’s disgusting.
You do know that I’m just the voice in the back of your head, right? You do know that we’re actually the same person? Are you doing okay?
I’m having a bad day.
Why do you even want to kill her?
Because she’s driving me insane.
Why don’t you just leave?
This is my home.
Why does that matter?
It’s where I have my life.
You don’t have a life! If you left, what would you leave behind!? You have no friends, no girlfriend, you hate your mother for no reason, and the only job prospects you have are on the other side of the fucking planet! Do it sooner rather than later, when you graduate make sure you get out of here as soon as you can.
I can’t just go.
Let me ask you this, are you happy here?
Then what the hell do you have to lose!? Just go!
Fantasizing about different ways to steal the life of your own mother really makes you question your own sanity. Sure, some people deserve to die. But I just need to make it clear that my mother does not belong on that list. I would fit in so much better.
I’ve had enough of these fucking hallucinations.
They’re not hallucinations, they’re daydreams, I control them, they are an escape, an outlet.
So you’re saying that if you daydream about beating your mom to death, then you won’t actually beat her to death?
Pretty much. It serves as some kind of relief.
Seems to be working fine so far.
We’re all alive, aren’t we?
Good enough, I guess.
The great relief in all this is of course that nothing happens when you die. It’s like hitting a dog with your car. The dog doesn’t go to doggy heaven. It gets dragged off the road and thrown in a dumpster. Humans get put in nice coffins only because we’re so fucking self-important. No one goes to heaven. No one lives on. We just fucking die. I’ll just fucking die. God I can’t wait.
Am I insane? I’ll let you be the judge. But then again some of the things I hear teenage boys say to their mothers are just horrible. Maybe I’m not so bad after all. Although, while some look forward to go home to see their parents, the more time I spend away from home the less I want to return. I can feel us drifting apart.
One Christmas, mom gave me a framed embroidery that she had made. It said, “You can take my life, but not my lack of enthusiasm.” I asked her what she meant by it. She said she didn’t know, that she just liked the quote. Classic dumbass. Or not. Maybe she just figured out that I often fantasize about taking her life. Apparently, I can have it then. That’s an odd invitation from such a happy person. I feel like she’s always judging me. I feel like she has a negative attitude towards who I am as a human being. She has no sense of humor.
Every joke I dare to make is received badly. Hers are so fucking stupid, just their mere existence makes me want to set myself on fire and give her a great, big, long hug. The room goes cold when she enters it. She’s the fucking ice queen. Maybe it’s not all my fault after all. If she misses me so much why does she treat me with such disdain when I finally come home. If my jokes aren’t funny if who I am isn’t good enough, then why the living fuck does she even fucking care???
It’s like when a person who isn’t comfortable around dogs enters a room with a dog in it, and it makes the dog uncomfortable as well because WHY IS THIS HUMAN ACTING SO FUCKING WEIRD?! I’m the dog in this analogy because she seems perfectly happy being herself around me while I’m too scared of her to say anything. That’s one of my new theories. That it’s fear. That I’m scared of her.
When she’s in the room, I can’t relax until she leaves. She makes me anxious, I’m suspended in this weird super silent state until she goes. It’s fucking horrible. For a long time, I thought it was all my fault. I’m starting to think that was never the case.
There were numerous times when all I wanted to do was to go on a murder-suicide rampage and end it all. There were numerous times that I just felt like I wanna kill her, I wanna kill her so bad. I wanna bash her face in with a bat, it would feel soooo good, you have no idea. But instead, I just have to keep it in. I have to restrain myself. And it’s fucking killing me.
If you’re gonna kill yourself you might as well let your mom live.
Don’t you think she would be sad?
That I’m dead?
A bit. Maybe.
I felt like she was childish sometimes, my mom. When she asked me to clear the table once, and I continued sitting for about five seconds, dad got up and started to pick up plates and pans. She pulled his chair out. He had been on his feet for a full four seconds. “Here, sit, please,” she said. She didn’t want to have some discussion or anything. She was asking him to sit back down because she was so intent on having me do it. It drove me fucking crazy.
“I’d rather be on my feet,” he said. He had a bad butt. That’s right, not a bad back, a bad butt from falling down a ladder in an old house many years ago. The same thing happened often when her mother was around. Grandma couldn’t stop herself, so when mom asked me to do something, if I wasn’t doing it within one-tenth of a second, grandma was already doing it. One dinner, where nothing of value was being discussed and my mind was running wild with how much I hated it, grandma told me I had to learn how to talk about nothing. I guess she was right, but at the time, even that was annoying.
About six months before I thought I was moving to London the first time, I walked back up to my old school to see Veronika. I was eighteen years old, and I hadn’t seen her in years. I walked in, and after 2 minutes of walking through the corridors which had once upon a time laid the foundations of the horrible piece of shit I was going to become, I had found her classroom. It was dark. They were watching a movie. Something about nature and animals.
She stood next to the screen the film was projected on, and before she sat down, I was able to wave to her. She saw me and came out. “Am I supposed to know you?” She asked. My heart jumped. Didn’t she recognize me? Had it been that long since we last saw each other? When was it? I racked my brain for the moment I knew I had somewhere in there. A parking lot down in the town center. It was a Saturday. I had come directly from a game of some sort. Probably hockey. I was wearing sweatpants and a T-shirt which means it was late spring/early summer. Pretty late for hockey.
It was probably one of those games you play just before they turn off the air conditioning and let the ice melt for the summer. I hadn’t said much. I was with dad and they had talked adult to adult. Even though I almost talked adult to adult to both of them at the age of seven and a half and onwards. At least when I was alone with them. But now their collected age became more of a distance between us. It was slightly formal, even though we were all going shopping in very relaxed attire. We had said “Hi” and said a few meaningless words about the fact that it was Saturday and on Saturday you eat candy and that’s nice. Very basic stuff. The meaning wasn’t in the words, it was in the eyes. She was happy to see me, you could see it.
“Oscar, oh hi!” It had taken her an extra nano-second to realize who I was. Her face lit up. I wondered if the shock of her not recognizing me had registered on my face. I hoped not. We hugged for what felt like a long time. It was now the winter of 2012, I was wearing a big coat and a scarf. I probably looked like an adult. We started talking before we parted. I let her be the one who broke it. We talked for as much time as she had to give in the middle of a workday. She let the class work on computers for the next period, I don’t know if that was planned, or if she did that so she could talk to me.
She told me about my old classmates. Apparently, the class had been split up as they went on to Ängaskog, the school about a mile away, and the magic had disappeared. They weren’t the golden kids anymore. They were just the annoying shitbirds I had always known them to be. Christian and Lukas still visited her sometimes. One of the girls had become a punk rocker with black leather, studs, pale makeup, and black eyelids. This is insane because the last time I saw her she was wearing pink sweatpants.
My parents have never been what you would call coddling. I once tried to explain my food vs. working out theory, which basically lauded working your butt off and eating whatever you want. This of course makes no actual sense since what you eat matters so much more than how much you work out. But my mom’s only response to this theory was “Mmhmm.” She didn’t tell me I was fat, she just went “Mmhmm” with as much skepticism and disdain as she could possibly muster.
I’ve been gaining and losing weight intermittently for a few years now. During one of my fatter phases, mom told me about this new diet she had been learning about. She was obsessed with it. It was like it was her job. The problem of communicating with older people is that they forget things that they have said and then they get angry when you bring it up. This was one of those occasions. Months earlier, mom had dismissed my claim that after eating a shitload of pasta, I felt hungrier than I did before eating. She scoffed and thought I was being fat and silly.
Fast-forward to a mom obsessed with the Low Carb High Fat diet and she completely accepts my claim, and when I bring up the fact that she scoffed at me last time, says she doesn’t remember doing that. They’re so sure they’re right too. Dad became infamous in my mind for being excited about an idea one day, and wanting to have nothing to do with it the next day. He would become angry when I talked back to him as well. His complete lack of memory of the things he himself had said just days earlier was infuriating. But he could be funny.
“Mom has me on this new diet. She thinks am fat,” I told him.
“No, it’s just...” Mom started but was cut off.
“You’re not just fat, you’re ugly too,” he said. Bastard’s funny. The diet had increased my consumption of bacon by every available percent. The kitchen was filled with the smoke from the bacon in the frying pan.
“Oh, it’s oozing!” Mom complained as she walked into the kitchen. She couldn’t walk into the kitchen without complaining. I’m pretty sure she would die if she tried. Dad, sniffing his own armpit, said “Yeah, it’s the musky scent of man.” I should at least acknowledge that if my mom had tried to make these same jokes, they wouldn’t be received in the same way but she has zero comic timing and no sense of humor so they would probably be delivered with an air of genuine grievance rather than with my dad’s genuine joy from gleaming the slightest chuckle from someone.
I freely admit that I have some mommy issues. It’s the weird, unsexy version of a girl’s daddy issues. Not that daddy issues are universally sexy, just to people with applicable fetishes. One day, I grabbed my laptop and went into the kitchen to do some writing. Mom was already sitting in the kitchen, working on her laptop, which of course put a lump in my stomach, but there you are.
She became really excited about the fact that we were writing at the same table, laptop to laptop. She stood up and insisted to take a picture just because our two computers were opposite each other on the kitchen table. I started to leave because the excitement about this trivial meaninglessness made me murderous. She immediately started arguing, and I put my computer down and let her take the fucking picture, but I wouldn’t be in it, that was too much. I mean how is this worth taking a picture of? Is her mind really that limited to arbitrary bullshit that two laptops with the backs to each other make her go “Well holy fuck, I need myself a picture of that!” It drove me insane and I wanted no part in her trivial bullshit.
“It’s your turn to clean the bathroom,” she told me. There was no such thing as “your turn,” it was my turn whenever she felt like ruining my day. It wasn’t that she asked me to do it. It was the way she asked, and that she asked at all which drove me insane. Of course, it shouldn’t, but you know I can’t help myself.
“Fuck off,” I said grumpily but then I chuckled as I saw the smile on her face. “I love you,” I said. She looked at me questioningly, because I never said that. No, you don’t get it, I NEVER said that. I don’t know what it was if I was drunk or tired or what. “It’s just that I really like how we can talk to each other this way. When I see how others act with their families, it’s just weird, how polite some are, and how others are complete assholes. Of course, I’m often the biggest asshole of them all.”
“Yeah, but I know why, so it’s cool,” she said.
“So, if we hadn’t talked about it, it would’ve been different?”
“Of course, that would’ve been horrible. No, it’s fine just as long as we have these talks once in a while.”
I realized that the anger wasn’t normal. Since I was a dick to her, she would think I was an overall dick, like a complete asshole to everyone around me all the time. I remember when I had a summer job at the cemetery at the church she worked at. She asked the new janitor where I was.
“He’s tall, a bit quiet.” She described me the way she thought I actually was. You know, a bit of a dick. It took a couple of seconds for the janitor to get it.
“Oh him, he’s so nice and hilarious, and he works hard too.” Mom wasn’t sure they were talking about the same person.
“Were you able to talk to him without him trying to stare you to death? Yes? No, that’s not my kid.”
Working at the cemetery definitely was a bit odd. There was one time when one of the priests needed help getting one of the heavy, wheelchaired ladies who came for pastries and coffee (Have you ever heard of fika? Of course you have, you’re not an uncultured swine) up a ramp and through a door.
After I had pushed the heavy lady through the door, I asked “So is there anything else?”
“No, but thank you,” the priest said quietly. His eyes screamed, “Thank you for defusing this awkward situation.” She had been coming every Tuesday for weeks if not months, how can this still make you uncomfortable? Don’t be embarrassed about asking me to get the heavy lady in the door. If you need me to get the heavy lady in the door, I will get the heavy lady in the door.
There’s nothing embarrassing or weird about this situation. She knows she’s a heavy lady. We know she’s a heavy lady. Everybody knows she’s a heavy lady. Be cool. She’s on wheels which makes her less heavy. Everything is fine. Breathe. The heavy lady was like “Yeah! Push harder bitches!” She wasn’t apologetic at all. Damn right. She’s gonna die soon anyway, so why would she apologize for her existence?
Next to the garage for the tractor, lawnmowers, and tools, there was another garage with dead people in it. In coffins, I should say. It was a giant fridge for corpses in wooden boxes. On Fridays, we used to have a little barbecue and one time there was one sad sausage leftover. I said that we should go into the room filled with dead people and put the burned sausage between someone’s legs. To me, that’s a funny joke, but to everyone else, it meant that I was sick in the head. What’s not funny about a charcoaled sausage between the legs of a dead person?
So, where were we? Oh yeah, my brilliant mom who I hated with a burning ferocity because she told me to pick up my clothes that she had laundered for me. What a bitch! The conundrum was that I wanted to release all my anger and aggression upon her, but I still wanted her to be there afterward. You know… like a fucking mom. The kind of mom who still loves her kid after they commit triple murder in a bush in Arizona.
That’s gonna be hard if you kill her. And her bush.
You don’t say.
Sometimes it felt like she didn’t even try though.
“You know that everything you do annoys me to no end, but it’s not like you try to make it easier for me or anything. I struggle with this every day and you just go along as if nothing has happened. I know you guys have tolerated more shit from me than you usually do for these last couple of years because I’ve had a rough time at school, but please don’t think I’m like this. Don’t take this the wrong way, although I can’t see how you’re not going to, but you bring it out of me. I’m not a horrible person, well I am a little bit, I can be. Still, I’m nice, funny, clever, witty. In short, a somewhat okay person.
Sadly, it often seems to me that I’m the only one who knows that person. And Veronika, she saw that in me, I don’t really know how, but she did, somehow. She saw through the jerk I often am outwards.”
“I do think you’re a brilliant person, you know I do,” she said. I wanted to say “I don’t believe you.” But instead, I just left.
As I turned the corner of the kitchen, I saw that she was crying ever so slightly. I felt like I should apologize but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it because even though I had hurt her, I didn’t think her feelings were valid, like the asshole that I was.
When you whisper ‘you too’ back to her when she says ‘I love you’, are you lying?
I think so, at least some of the time.
I’d suggest you keep that up.
What the fuck do you mean, ‘Why?’ Lying is awesome, it creates an alternative reality where you’re seen in a different light, and trust me, you need to be seen in a different light.
So, let me ask you right now then, do you love your mom?
…I don’t know… I don’t think so… maybe.
Do you love your dad?
What’s the difference?
Has your dad ever told you he loves you?
Have you ever told him you love him?
That’s not how it works.
How what works?
Humans with penises. When my mom would tell me that she loved me, I would call her a liar. That way, I didn’t have to say it back. It was easier that way.
Most Swedes count themselves lucky to be Swedes. We love America, but we wouldn’t want to be Americans. It all just seems a bit mad. We gladly welcome the cultural imperialism but remain incredulous at the politics and its underlying values. Mom was diagnosed with cancer when I was about 15.
They cut out a bit of her colon, and now she has a scar down her stomach. It looks as if she has had a C-section. Which she didn’t have when I was born, but she should’ve, because I ruined her down there. I tore her nether regions apart, and there was nothing she could do about it. Now she pees her pants every other day because there are no muscles left to stop the flow, I took those with me on my way out.
“Oh, you want your cervix back? Ha! No, fuck you mom,” is what I imagine I said as I careened out of that womb two weeks past my due date like thick, gooey milk. Every time she gets inside the door of the house after being anywhere, she bends over because if she doesn’t, she’s gonna piss herself. And when she stands there, she looks at me and goes “You fat son of a bitch.” Yes, mom, I am your son, very well spotted.
The point I’m making is that it’s expensive to be ill in America. My parent’s response to my mom having cancer was to buy another house. In the US, if you get cancer and at the same time you decide to buy another house, you would have to be a billionaire. But my parents are perfectly ordinary middle-class people.
As my mom got cancer, my dad thought it would be a great idea not only to buy another house but better yet, to take out another loan to buy another house. This was perfectly fine, as at least to my rudimentary understanding of our personal finances at the time, my mom’s illness was dealt with swiftly and we incurred almost no economic damage.
This chapter includes just a few examples but it represents the entire clusterfuck that is my relationship with my mother. One day, I told my dad that I had a contact in the US who could get me some meetings with news directors and maybe get me a job. She decides to tell me that she read in the newspaper that day that Swedes have to fight misinformation in the US, that some Americans think that some areas are being “taken over” by Muslims where no non-Muslims go.
Sure, some Americans do believe that, but it’s far from everyone and not anyone I would ever bump into. You have to search far and wide for those people. But it’s so typical of my mom. She tries to make a joke, but she’s always so fucking negative, she sucks the joy out of anything, like a dementor on speed. Just as I was about to go to the states for three months in the fall of 2017, mom, Clara and I hung out at Clara’s apartment. There was alcohol which led to mom and I discussing our relationship, with Clara looking on as if she was watching an especially gruesome car crash.
“The way you act towards me makes me feel like you want our interactions to be bad, to be uncomfortable,” I told her. I saw tears welling up in her eyes, and for the first time in my life, it felt good to make someone cry. It was like a weight being lifted from my shoulders, that the words I had been saying for years finally had some real effect on her like she was finally listening.
She would of course say that she had always been listening, she just didn’t know how to handle it. But to the 18-year-old who confesses to their mother that they want to die and only gets back a “No, you don’t,” it certainly felt like she wasn’t listening and that I wasn’t being taken seriously.
She seemed to have taken my rooftop escapade when I was twelve more seriously than me literally saying the words “I want to die” as an 18-year-old when you’re arguably more able to accurately assess your emotional state than when you are twelve. I tried to explain to her, and for the first time, I think she understood, that it bothered me that she was trying to have more of a relationship with me now when it was dad who had put his time and effort into being with me growing up.
In many ways, he raised me and she worked late. She got home late at night and I got used to, and accepted, having a mother I didn’t really get on with, or know or understand fully, despite the fact that we grew up in the same house. The relationship I had with my parents was incredibly lopsided. She called me after about a week in the states and apologized for her shortcomings as a mother, for letting dad raise me and being fine with that, to summarize. I more than accepted her apology, I didn’t even expect or want one in the first place.
I didn’t put all the blame on her, but I think I’m grown up enough now to know that this is what our relationship is going to be, and quite frankly, I’ve seen so many utterly broken mother-son relationships which make me think that under the circumstances, it could’ve been a lot worse.