I performed recently at the Comedy Vault (www.dickdoherty.com) in Boston and I stayed with my mother in Quincy, MA. I grew up in Milton one town over so it was pretty much like going home. Milton is a small, dry town so as teenagers, my friends and I would have to go to Quincy or Dorchester to do anything out of the ordinary. Quincy happens to be the home of Regina Russel’s Tea Room. http://www.rrtearoom.com/ . Their website reads “in the psychic reading business since 1973” and they have the furniture to prove it! I can’t tell you how many Saturday afternoons I spent at Regina Russel’s, trying to find out if the hottie I met at the under 21 club the night before was going to come to my friend’s house party. Most of my visits to Regina Russel’s were prompted by men. This time I was there simply to have a stranger spin a tale of hope and inspiration about my future. Fuck, for $28 bucks Helen looked me in the eye and talked up the next two years of my life for 15 minutes, I would have paid $50.
“In only a few months you will have major career changes” Helen said.
“Sooooo, September?’ I said giddy with anticipation.
“More like October, November”
I nodded my head as if to say “I can work with that. I will not argue with fate”
“There is an enthusiastic younger man who loves you and WANTS to be in a relationship with you, do you know who this is?”
“NO! Who? No, don’t tell me! I want to be surprised”
I was hanging on Helen’s every word like Kathy Bates in Misery. Helen looked like she had special powers. I would wager she was well known for performing exorcisms, she had a few stories from Laconia, and was troubled with internal dialogue. I knew I liked her right away. She gave me a once over. I appreciate a good once over, I do. To me it says “Get a load of this one”. I was wearing a black sundress that cost me, at most, twenty bucks but it seemed to be getting me a lot of attention in Quincy. I’m not complaining.
I jumped into the car feeling energized with anticipation about the next year of my life. My mother on the other hand was moderately satisfied with her experience. “Which lady did you get?” I asked. “Oh I don’t know. I was more entertaining than she was for Christ’s sake. I gotta go to Walmart.” Then she backed out of her spot at 20 miles an hour.
Driving with my mother is like watching a one woman show on four wheels (sometimes two). She tells stories, imitates people, and makes you question if she has any experience at this at all. There is a lot of improvisation in her driving. Loads of last minute decision making, routes are continuously changed, and other drivers are left for dead, if they’re lucky. We pulled up to a red light in a four lane intersection. We were in the third lane behind 3 cars, the fourth lane veered to the right and they had a green light so when a car in the fourth lane sidled up beside us and came to a stop my mother was instantly disgruntled.
“What the hell is this guy doing? You have a red light! What? You want in my lane? Jesus Christ this guys rolling down his window. Kendra, you see this guy?”
I roll down my window.
The guy looks foreign and confused. He asks with an accent “Is this the right way to BJ’s?” I stifled a chuckle.
My mother responded immediately and loudly “Oh you gotta go, well it’s tough to explain. It’s over there. Take a right here, make a u-ey, take another right….”
The guy interrupted “So take a right here?”
Feeling as if he hadn’t been a good listener, coupled by the fact the light is about to change and she can actually give him the information he is looking for if he’d only stop acting foreign, my mother stops being patient and starts talking fast, adding finger pointing to her instructions.
“Take a right (finger jab at air) then turn around and take another right (the other finger jabs) then bear to the right on the ramp (both hands move through the air on an incline)”
The light changes while he repeats “So take a right here?”
My mother shakes her hands around, grabs the wheel, sneers “Good Luck” and peels off.
Carol Cunningham, just another impatient American deserting a foreigner in a time of need.
In all fairness, hours later, my mother turned to me and said ‘You think that sad sack ever made it to BJ’s?”
See? She cares.
Thanks for listening!
Kendra is a stand up comic living in Brooklyn where she owns a super comfortable bed. She spends most of her time wondering where the hell her sugar daddy is and hoping he didn’t settle.