Here is the rather disturbing result.
The day after father died, mother was spinning a complicated metaphor in which hope was the hubcap of a car and reality was a loose muffler dragging on the pavement underneath when she was interrupted by a knock on the door. I jumped to answer it before the stranger on the other side pressed the doorbell and woke the baby. The doorbell was an obnoxious blast of dance music, written by my cousin DJ Inoffensive Interjection, with a rhythm that was designed to match the brainwaves of an average person. I was far from average.
Fully prepared to point out that we were a house in mourning, I opened the door and found myself in the shade of a smooth salesman dressed in a suit colored exactly like, I'll be damned, that red NyQuil. He stepped inside with the lumbering precision of an injured professional wrestler and started a monotone sales pitch for an unnamed product. As he spoke, we became mesmerized by his single discolored tooth in a mouth that was otherwise a perfect example of dental health. In fact, I later suspected that the discolored tooth was a distraction designed to help lure us into a post-hypnotic state of hyper-suggestibility.
Mother and I became swept up in a vortex of desire. Whatever he was selling we were willing to buy. But, every time he came to a point where we hoped he might mention the product he was selling, he just swept past it. At one point he began to list a series of problems for which his product was the solution. I am afraid I can't remember them all, but I list a few to prove how real they were and how they were as perfect as a deck of cards.
The problems: Yawning when passing a black person on the street. Feeling that the nostalgic or ironic nature of your t-shirt infers extra meaning on you as a person instead of just being a half-hearted attempt to be part of a group. Inability to stop yourself from telling the same bad jokes that your father told. Density. Pity for those that are superior to you but less happy. Saving all hair and nails clipped from your person for fear that they will be used to make VooDoo fetish objects that will eventually be used to force you to murder. Buying a piece of electronics mere days before its superior replacement is released. The illusion that remembering and repeating sniglets means you have a sense of humor.
I ask you, wouldn't you want such a product? Mother had replaced all desire for product with love for the salesman. I found that unseemly such a short time after father's passing, but life, so to speak, like a show, must go on.
My mother is as dainty as a flower. My mother collects celebrity profiles from Parade magazine in huge notebooks under her bed. My mother is licensed to carry a gun. My mother's first job was as a wet nurse for wealthy children whose own mothers couldn't be bothered. My mother loves to look in on me at night while I pretend to sleep and recount all the things that I have ever done wrong until she starts to cry.
I am afraid the salesman and mother have retired to the bedroom now, where I hear the overwhelming sounds of them together. He was panting like a rodeo clown in a barrel behind the door. Mother, oh Mother. Don't wake the baby.