As I trumped down the stairs in sweats and a T-shirt my son called me selfish because I haven’t done his laundry in over a year. The barb he threw did not sting as I added up all the time I had gotten to keep for myself by avoiding his boxers and other regalia. The moment my children became teenagers I stopped testing hidden corners for colorfastness and abandoned all aspirations of keeping their whites whiter than bright. Why did I do this? I guess because my Mom kicked doing my laundry to the curb when I turned 13. She said: “I did it from 0 to 13 the rest is up to you. Read the label of your clothes, read the bottle of detergent live long and prosper.” So when my son called me selfish, I offered him the Vulcan hand salutation, at least I think it was that or perhaps it was the LA Crips greeting. Despite his frustration, he kissed me on the cheek and whispered in my ear. “Mom you are such a nerd.”
So I did the greeting right after all, but nerd? Sure I have seen every version and every episode of Star Trek but nerd? Yes, I have been to Comic-Con more than once. Had being a nerd callused my husband's sensitivity? I will under enhanced interrogation admit that I have a sexy red Uhura uniform in my closet but I didn’t think the kids knew that. I shudder to think they have seen my husband and me going where no one has gone before but nerd? The more I thought about it the more I had to face the truth. I remember being courted by my husband and watching his hopes fade with every 7Eleven bouquet gave to me. (It was college; he was broke) Did he really think that would get him closer to the promised land? Then one night after going out for a couple of months he showed up at my door with a signed copy of Ursula K. LeGuin's the Left Hand Of Darkness. Insert medieval montage here: (drawbridge lowering, iron gates swinging open, ten stout men lifting beam of wood from across door) The rest as they say is history.
Later that day I asked my daughter if I was a nerd and she said, “Of course you are, Mom.” It’s not that I mind being thought of that way but I always fancied myself in the know, well at least a tiny bit. On a whim I challenged my daughter to Un-nerd me and take me shopping. So off we went to the mall while the men folk grunted and grilled. She wanted to shop on The Magnificent Mile but rather than Neiman Marcus I was thinking Kohls. Although I relented a little and we did stop for a cosmetic touch up at the make-up counter. Now sufficiently dolled up, my daughter preceded to pour me into too tight clothes that rode too low and pinched my crotch like the Marquis De Sade. “Oh , Mom you look so hot!” All I could see was my mature body stuffed in these hellish garments like a sausage. I turned and turned in the mirror sure that my butt crack was exposed despite my daughters assurance that I was decent and that if I bent over all anyone could see was my whale tale. A few more bangles and we left the mall; my daughter insisted I wear the outfit home to show her father. I relented but thought no way as I slid into the driver seat and thought I would pop a kidney when I sat down, and darn that Marquis he seemed to like me sitting better than standing.
As we walked through the door my son’s jaw dropped my husband looked up from the TV and said… well I can’t repeat what he said. While my daughter bragged and gushed my husband looked pale which is quite a feat for a black man. All I could say was “Do I look like a nerd?” He smiled and said, “No, more like a friend of Hanna Montana.” We both laughed and he yelled out “Kids go over to Uno’s and pick up a veggie pizza for dinner. I asked, "What about the ribs for you guys"? He said we could eat those later. The kids cheered grabbed the car keys and bolted for the door. I headed toward the stairs and my honey said wait! As he followed me he said we could put this outfit next to the Star Trek one. I said maybe and hoped that my whale tail was showing as we walked up the stairs.
_________________________________________________________________________________ Camile Ryerson is our regular contributing writer. Her column appears every Wednesday. Read her views on politics, world affairs, pop culture and of course, what she's reading. Her favorite genre is sci-fi.