Mother Knows Best

A night on the town with Mom means talking about Jacko, Dabney Coleman, and pedophilia

No one has been interested in hearing this, especially not my mother, who is worried for my safety. "Don't worry, Ma," I say to her. "They don't know where I live, just my name and phone number." This usually sends her into a mock stroke, her face contorting like an astronaut's in a wind machine. Brings her down every time.

Old Michael Jackson footage was on the TV screen, with him standing next to the blotted-out face of his accuser in the Bashir documentary. "There are a few things I know about pedophiles," I began to say.

"Katy," she said, the same way she'd said it above.

"They put children on pedestals, they fall in love with children. They surround themselves with children's things and toys in a Neverland of 'innocence.'" But she didn't want to hear my unique insight on the trial. All she heard was, "My daughter likes pedophiles."

I have a theory about the children of '60s-generation parents. We can't shock them by dying our hair purple, or dropping out of school, or using the f-word. We can only shock them by A) being racist, B) being Republican, or C) sympathizing with pedophiles. I think I picked the least repugnant of the three.

I eventually dropped it, because it's one thing to get my mother going and yet another to change her mood entirely. I like her fun and goofy. Instead I brought up the time she had raging diarrhea in a Stuckey's bathroom in Toad Suck, Ark., while a line of waiting cheerleaders traveling to a competition heard her misery loud and clear.

"Katy," she said, sternly.

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