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  • Writer's picturemaggiehsmith07

Fish Fry

On Wednesday night, as I lay in bed, I realized that I’d forgotten to order my mom’s birthday gift.

“Should I get up and order it now?” I ask Andrea.


I order it the next morning and thank God for Amazon which will ship it directly to Bert’s house the next day, Bert’s 80th.

I take the first flight out of Richmond on Friday and the songs playing at my gate are from when I was in high school. A couple bustles up to the gate and he’s singing along with some 90s jam and I think to myself, I know hold old you are – give or take a few years.

As I drove towards her condo from O’Hare, I realized with a start that I haven’t lived in Illinois for 30 years. This is an indisputable fact which may mean that I too am, at the very least, aging along with my mom - as if the "progressives" affixed to my face weren't a clue. I worked much of my career in senior living which has reframed my perception of “old”. Bert’s proclaimed herself old for a few years now, but I’ve shrugged this off. Rubbish. But now that she’s 80, I’m inclined to agree with her.

I’d planned a surprise party for the Bertinator and my niece, Cassie, and brother Larry helped me pull it off by picking up the balloons and the cake I’d ordered from Virginia. Cassie texted me around 130 to say she’d called the restaurant where we were having the party and was informed they were having a fish fry tonight and didn’t have my reservation.

Now, if this were Larry texting, I’d reply “LOL” because he’d be joking. I know Cassie is not joking so I slip into the spare room my mom uses at an office in her condo. I call the restaurant and the woman who answered seems annoyed at me that they have fucked this up.

“Did you just call here?” she demands.

“My niece did and I’m calling to get this straightened out.”

“Yeah – we don’t do reservations tonight - it's fish fry night. Hold on. She talked to Tim. He’s working on it – here. Here he is.”

Tim gets on and I explain that I have called the restaurant multiple times, including as recent as yesterday and made a reservation for 14. Tim assures me we will work it out and suggests I order 3 pizzas and suggests, "Do any of you do Lent? Maybe a cheese pizza?"

"Oh Jesus. Lent. Right! Oops - I mean, clearly I don't do Lent, ha, but yes. A cheese pizza would be great." I reply, finally realizing part of the Friday fish fry draw.

I get things straightened out with Tim before Cassie arrives at the restaurant with the cake to tuck it into their fridge. He tells her things like this make them look like idiots – they had found my reservation.

With that hurdle cleared, I go to exit mom’s spare room and am surprised when the door will not open. I twist the knob to the left and pull. Nothing. I try the right and pull.

“What are you doing?” Mom calls in response to the door knob rattling.

“I can’t get out of here!” I say.

“You can’t get out? I never shut that door.” Mom replies, her voice drawing closer.

“Yeah, well, I wouldn’t start, you could die alone in here.”

Mom sets to work on the knob and I ask if she has a paper clip.

“Wait a minute. I have to pee.” Mom says, shuffling away.

I look around the room and say, “Well, there’s an empty Amazon box in here if I have to poop.” (why have 2 blog posts in a row referenced poop)

I text Andrea who Facetimes me to get me out. I think she just needed a laugh. Mom returns and indicates that the top left hand corner of her desk may have something in it I can use to free

myself. I find something that looks like a roofing nail and her AARP card and somehow free myself.

Mom’s party was a success – she was surprised and I didn’t order too much food (which I’m known to do) thanks to Tim and Cassie. A group she is a part of gifted her a refurbished laptop and we’ve launched into lessons on her new Kindle (from Andrea and me) and the laptop.

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