I decided to go to Boston to surprise my mother for her birthday. I talk to my mother on the phone a lot and she knows what I’m up to pretty much every minute of every day so pulling off a trip from New York to Boston without her wondering why the hell my accountability of time seemed vague and untrue, was going to be tough for me. If I was a boy, I’d be a Momma’s boy. In order to cover my tracks and explain my whereabouts for the four hour train ride, I made up a story about going out for cocktails with my friend from work, which turned into a personal excavation about this “friend from work”. “Now is this the friend with the boyfriend who sits near you or the girl who does comedy and got you the temp job there?” My mother remembers EVERYTHING, especially about people. I mention “Frank” and she’s like “Frank from the cold cut counter or Frank the guy who owns the restaurant or Frank………..” so when I say “I’m going out for drinks with somebody from work” it’s like she just read the title of a conversation and now she can’t wait to read the whole thing. “Oh, that sounds fun. Where are you gonna go? Is there food there or just drinks? Will you just wear your work clothes or will you change after work? Do you have enough money?” Yes, my mother still asks me if I have enough money. Sometimes I don’t. I mean, does anybody really ever have enough money?
I took the Amtrak up on a Friday night and my sister had come up with a plan to take my mother to breakfast at Kristin’s in Braintree (chosen because it recently was written up and featured on the television) The surprise plan was, my sister Kristen, drops me at the breakfast joint, then goes 5 min down the road and picks up my mother and comes back. I’m sitting at a table with baseball cap and sunglasses and I say surprise!!!!!!!
That was the plan.
This is what happened.
My sister dropped me at the breakfast place. I had my hair in a baseball cap, sunglasses, and a big down coat on with a fur lined hood. I walked into the place at 10 am on a Saturday and guess what? It’s packed! There’s a waiting list. My immediate reaction was “Shit! I’m gonna be waiting for a table when she arrives “not the plan but I had no control. I had even thought I would explain the whole scenario to the waitress but no fucking way. These girls were hustling. They had omelets to serve and pancakes to garnish with butter and syrup. They didn’t have the time or the interest in my mother’s birthday surprise. I gave them my name and sat down on the indoor bench.
People were looking at me funny. I did look like a person of interest. I kept my sunglasses on. I figured nobody knew who I was anyway, so, who cares! Ten minutes went by, no sign of my sister and mother. I texted my sister to inform her in the change of plans. Ten more minutes go by. No text. No table. Now I’m starting to panic. It took everything I had in me to resist the temptation to text my mother and see what the hell was going on. I was sweating. I took the glasses off, they were fogging up. I was hungry.
“Kendra, party of three”
I stood up, wiped the sweat from my nose, and started to explain the “I’m just a party of one but I will be a party of three eventually” situation but she was off and running, menus flailing, picking up dirty plates along the way. She dropped the menus on the only empty table and kept walking. She had shit to do.
I sat down with my coat on; I pulled my baseball cap down to cover my face more. I couldn’t put the sunglasses back on. I was losing my commitment to the cause and I sensed my resistance to taking my coat off was arousing curiosity.
The waitress came and looked at the empty seats “Are you Cunningham, party of three?”
“Oh yeah, they are parking the car, sorry, they should be here soon, it’s my mother’s …”
“Do you want coffee?” she interrupted.
“That’d be great! Thank you so much” I was feeling very low status.
Then through the crowd I saw my mother. I put my hood on and scrambled through the diner; people wiped their baby’s chins but had their eyes on me. I started getting giddy.
Then my mother saw me and looked concerned “What the hell happened?” she said in a low whisper.
“Surprise!” I said, with a strained smile. I’ve never had good coping skills when it comes to being physically uncomfortable.
“You look like you’re on the lam, for Christ’s Sake, you don’t even look like you. Are you ok? You’re all flushed”
“I’ve been wearing this coat ..”
“Excuse me! Ladies you can’t stand here” a waitress with dried up egg yolk on her shirt barked.
“Sorry!” we all said in unison and headed to our table.
The waitress was waiting.
“You ladies want coffee?”
“Yes, coffees all around!” I said with a hand motion. I was feeling funny again. The look on her face caused me to add a “Please!”
I should have said it in the first place but it kinda screwed up the rhythm of the joke.
Just when I started having a good time, the waitress came back and said the five words I dread hearing “Did you go to Fontbonne?”
Fontbonne is the all-girls catholic high school I went to. And it’s not that I have terrible memories of it at all, in fact the exact opposite, some of my best times of my life were in highschool, if not all of them. It’s just that whenever somebody asks me “Did you go to Fontbonne?” I hear “I know how old you are! Nana nana nanana”
Obviously in this scenario it was even worse considering my odd baseball cap and sunglasses attire and skittish behavior coupled with my attempt to make rude coffee jokes, I reluctantly admitted I was the Kendra that went to Fontbonne. Turns out a couple of gals from Fontbonne own this breakfast joint, something my sister and I have often talked about doing.. I didn’t feel like I was in a position to start asking a lot of “how to start up your own breakfast joint” type of questions so I just congratulated her and gave some specific compliments about the food. “The pancake was hot and fluffy with crispy edges and the omelets were big and well-sealed” Stuff that I thought showed I was paying attention to their work. She got distracted half way through the second compliment and yelled out “Your bacons coming” which I thought was pretty cool.
Turns out I did surprise my mother. She couldn’t believe I lied to her about going for drinks with a friend from work. She ultimately asked “Do you even have a friend from work or was that a lie too?”
Later my sister and I brought her to see Sheer Madness. She asked me to post it on her Facebook page. She got 27 likes.
Happy Birthday Ma!
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.