Personal Essay–My Mother
Everybody calls me Mimi and I’m eleven years old and my mother has snakes for hair. Craig Johnson makes fun of me and says I mean she has hair that looks like snakes or something, but I don’t — they’re real snakes, all right.
I don’t mean fat, ugly snakes, either. They’re long, skinny snakes, with tiny little heads and bright black shiny eyes that flash “Good night” when my mother turns off the overhead and the nightlight comes on. Their tails are down in her scalp somewhere, and they grow out and over her head and hang down in the back, and little baby ones curl in front of her ears.
They’re brown. The snakes, I mean; her ears are sort of peach-colored, like the rest of her (as much of it as I’ve seen, anyway, which isn’t much — she’s very modest. We don’t even have any mirrors in the house — that’s how modest my mother is.). I asked her what kind of snakes they were, once, and she said she didn’t know. She said she’d never thought about it. She said she guessed they were hair snakes or something.
My father has regular hair and so do I. So do all of my grandmas and grandpas, so I don’t know where my mother got snakes. She says they’re just a gift from the gods, and I shouldn’t ask so many questions, or the gods might give me a gift, too. I said that didn’t sound so bad, and she said it depends on the god, and it depends on the gift.
She has never had a haircut in her life, she says, but twice a year she goes to her sister, a herpetologist, to have them thinned. She says she won’t have to do that very much longer, because she says she’s getting older, and they’re getting thinner on their own. I know Daddy’s always complaining about them clogging up the drains, and sometimes we find one in the salad.
“Not much hope of us turning vegetarian!” Daddy says. (Ha, ha.)
My mother is a stay-at-home Mom. She says she likes it that way. She says she’s had enough adventures in her life. When I ask her to tell me some, she says, “Never mind — I don’t want to give you any ideas!” Then she winks at me, and her snakes all curl around her shoulders and open their mouths and bob their heads and laugh with their little red tongues.
My mother has the most beautiful smile; she says it’s all due to her other sister, a dentist who specializes in removing over-sized teeth. She says I should have seen her before she had them yanked — another gift from the gods, she says, and kind of curls her lip.
My mother never goes out; she orders everything on the computer and has it delivered. She buzzes open the porch door and has the delivery people leave the stuff on the porch. The door locks behind them when they leave. Then Daddy or I bring the stuff in.
Craig Johnson says my mother must be too ugly to go out, but my mother is the most beautiful woman in the world, and I mean it! Daddy always says we’re a lucky family, because we see each other with the eyes of love, but my mother would be beautiful anyway. Her eyes are shiny, like the snakes’, and her voice is soft and sort of whispery, like tree leaves in the wind.
That reminds me: My mother has a garden out back. She must have been a wonderful artist when she was younger, because our garden is full of all these life-sized statues of people and she’s always told me that she made them. When I tell her I wish she’d make one for me, sometime, she says the more I tell her about Craig Johnson, the more she thinks she might just grant my wish.
I asked my mother if geeks used to make fun of her snakes, when she was in school. She said she was Homeschooled, so no. I wish I could be Homeschooled (no offense!).
Craig Johnson says I’m a big, fat liar, and my mother doesn’t have snakes for hair, and she’s probably ugly as homemade sin. I’m going to let him come home with me after school, so he can see for himself — maybe then he’ll shut up!
My mother’s maiden name was Gorgon.
That’s all about my mother.