In the middle of the afternoon Randy called Brenda and said, “Mom, is it alright if I come over for supper with a girl?”
Brenda was thrilled. Ever since Randy had moved out five months ago to live with his father she’d felt lonely. Maybe that was why she was so much on those purgatorial dating sites. She had to admit that the hope they promised soothed her but only for a very short while. After, they left her feeling deserted. Just as she’d felt when Randy moved out. How could her only son have abandoned ship on her? Of course she told him she’d understood. That was a mother’s job, wasn’t it to make their children feel good about themselves even though their actions broke your heart.
Well, now that he was coming for supper with a girl Brenda felt alive again. She put aside the work she was doing on her novel and stomped to her fridge where she came face to face with nothing that she could make into a meal. It wasn’t that she was a bad cook. She’d taken oodles of cooking lessons while she was pregnant with Randy. Thai cuisine. Sushi. French pastry making although that she’d never mastered. She’d become a real food diva. She’d done it for Max. He’d insisted that she stay home so that he’d have a warm meal to come home to. But she’d never really liked cooking. In fact she’d hated it.
Come to think of it there were so many things she’d done in her life which she hadn’t liked. All so that Max would love her. And what did all this chopping away on vegetables and getting flour stuck in her nails get her but a divorce and a son who’d said he needed to live with his dad.
But now it was different. Randy was bringing home a girl. It was almost four and so she put a bottle of fume blanc into the fridge and then headed to Mamie Clafoutie where she bought a leek torte and then made her way to Young’s where she filled her basket with rocket and endives for her famous salad that she would serve with the torte. And for dessert she bought chocolate ice-cream with out of season fresh blueberries to top on it throwing economical caution to wind.
Nothing would stop her from impressing her dear Randy’s new girl friend. She dressed soberly, wearing a pair of brown trousers and a simple white blouse for she wanted to portray to this girl – this wonderful girl who might turn out to be her daughter-in-law- the representation that Randy had a real, cozy mother. Not someone who was artificially concerned with make-up and fashion, as she usually was.
The doorbell rang and Brenda answered wearing a pair of gaudy animal slippers with its huge lion heads which Randy had given her years ago as a Christmas gift.
There before her stood the most exquisite woman she had ever seen. She was dressed in a tight red sheath of a dress which showed off her long legs. Her hair was flowing into cascades of curls reminding Brenda that her own hair was severely tied behind her head in a bun fit for an abbess. To top it all off this statuesque woman standing before her was Brenda’s age and likely even older if you took into consideration that she likely had had Botox injections, which Brenda believed she had.
What was Randy doing with a cougar? This was not how she had brought him up. It was all Max’s fault. She always felt he was a terrible influence on Randy. She never should have conceded to figuratively signing on the dotted line to allowing Randy go and live with his father. But what could she do. He was eighteen after all. Only eighteen she thought. And here he was so innocent being corrupted by this middle-aged personage. She never should have let him out of her womb.
Brenda shot this woman a withering glance before she heard Randy’s voice echoing though her ears.
“Mom, are you alright?”
Brenda had stopped breathing and as soon as her stroke of shock had passed she heard Randy say, “This is Candy.”
“I’m sure you are,” Brenda blurted out.
There was a moment of silence which Candy quickly shattered by asking if she could use the washroom.
“What are you doing with this woman?” Brenda sermonized.
“Relax, mom. You’re getting all worked up for nothing. She’s hot. That’s all.”
That wasn’t what Brenda wanted to hear. She was on the verge of telling Randy that he had no business bringing her over here but what if that only alienated him from her? Ever since he’d moved out the distance between them had broken her heart and what if he refused to speak to her because of this…this cougar. She couldn’t take the risk. She felt trapped like a rat in a cage.
“Where did you meet her?” she asked.
“On a cougar dating site.”
“You went out looking for an old woman.”
“Mom she’s not old. She’s your age. Maybe you should try.”
The thought of dating a man her son’s age felt creepy to Brenda. Maybe she was just being old fashion. It wasn’t that she was against women dating younger men. That was their business and if men dated younger woman then why shouldn’t women have the same privilege. It was that she resented her son dating an older woman. She didn’t blame Randy. He was just a baby. She blamed Candy. In fact she was beginning to hate her for this.
“You could have warned me. Got me prepared. I just don’t know how to handle this.”
“There’s nothing to handle. You’re not the one dating her.”
Then it dawned on Brenda. What if in this Candy-cane her son was looking for the mother he never had. She instantly thought of the therapy groups she’d assisted with Campbell and felt a wave of depression go through her. She was a failure as a mother. That was why Randy had left to live with his father and why now he needed to date an older woman to replace his mother.
Click-click-click. It was Candy’s spiked heels. Randy whispered to her between his teeth, “Be nice to her.”
Brenda swallowed hard.
“Candy’s an executive in a large firm,” Randy said as he snuggled up to her. “She’s very successful at what she does.”
“I’m sure she is,” Brenda said her eyes bulging at Candy’s deep cleavage. Why in the world would a woman her age want to meet her lover’s mother? There must be something wrong with her. Brenda looked at her. She was perfect. Oh, my God had she met Max? She was just the type of woman Max fell for? So she suddenly said, “You ought to meet Randy’s father. I think you two would get along. “
Randy shot her a daggered look.
“I have met him already,” said Candy. “A charming man. Randy told me that the divorce was very difficult on you.”
It was now Brenda’s turn to shoot eye daggers at her son. Had he told his Bonbon how she’d snuck into Max’s apartment and sprayed his sheets with her perfume? Or the time that Max had put a restraining order on her. Or how she’d called up his girlfriend of the week yelling obscenities at her?
“Randy told me you’re trying to write a novel.”
“Yes,” Brenda said but she wasn’t in the mood of talking about all the problems she was having with her novel. She was already on her eight draft and it still wasn’t coming together. She didn’t feel like admitting this to anyone, especially not to Ms lollipop who oozed not only of success but had stolen her son from her right before her eyes.
All she wanted to do now was be by herself and dunk her head under the blankets. But that image only made her think of her son in bed with this jujube. What was wrong with her? Was she so possessive that she couldn’t even be happy for her son?
A drink. That’s what she needed to get her senses in order. She opened the wine, filled their glasses and dunked hers. She then filled up her glass again, dunked it and then a third time and ordered Randy to open another bottle.
“Shouldn’t we have something to eat?” he said.
In all this upset she had forgotten to put the pie in the oven and no longer was up to making the salad.
“I need to lie down,” she said and went into the living room where she passed out on her couch.
The next morning, with a terrible headache she called up Randy wanting to know if she’d insulted Candy but he wouldn’t take any of her calls. She placed her head in her hands. It wasn’t the first time she’d made a fool of herself but it was the first time she felt she really disappointed Randy.