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How To Talk Your Way Through Pleasanton

My mother visits.

Here’s the thing you need to understand about my mother. She has ash-blond, short hair, olive skin, pencil thin eyebrows and is just too friendly. Too talkative. Too neighborly. Too much. I am not sure if Pleasanton gets her.

Let me fill you in on a trip to Target.

“Can I help you find something?” my mom asked a complete stranger.

“Yeah, where are dish towels?” she said.

“In aisle three. Want me to show you?”

“Do you work here?”

“No dear, just noticed you needed help.”

You see what I mean?  Now don’t get me wrong, I love my mother but seriously, sometimes her helpfulness can be exhausting. I’d have thought that weird looks from others and my red face would make her stop talking to strangers, but it only eggs her on.

At church, in my opinion, she goes way overboard greeting people. Last Sunday, I noticed a friend sitting a few rows ahead of us during the service. I nodded hello and thought that was that. But no. As we were lining up for communion, my mother nudged me out of the way, squeezed past five others and practically laid her body across the row of parishioners to shake her hand. 

“Hi, I’m Joan. Stacey’s mom. From St. Louis.”

Confusion twisted on my friend’s face. After she recovered, she said, “Oh yeah, hi.”

By the end of the service, my mother knew more church members than I.

Afterwards, we strolled downtown for lunch and something sweet to eat.  “Let’s find a bakery,” she said.

“Promise me you won’t try to talk to everyone,” I begged.

“Don’t worry,” she said with a smile and a shrug.

Yet despite my warnings, she amped it up like a kid on a sugar fix. At the bakery, she said, “Hi, my name is Joan. I’m from St. Louis. What’s good today?” 

The lady raised her eyebrows and rolled her eyes. She said, “Uh, how can I help you?” 

“Those cupcakes look good. How much?”

“Four dollars. Each.”

“That’s kind of high. We’ll take one.”

Back on Main Street, she said, “That was weird. She couldn't care less if I ordered anything or not.”

“I told you. People are too busy to talk. Pace yourself.”

But lunching at was another story. The manager, cheery and vivacious, smiled as we reached the counter. Mom had found a kindred spirit.

            “Hi, I’m visiting from St. Louis.”

            “That’s great. What would you like to order?”

            “Oh, it all sounds delicious. I’ll take the Aunt Amelia’s on Dutch crunch.”

            “Good choice.”

The manager welcomed my mom and engaged her in conversation, asking about the weather in St. Louis and checking to see if she had a safe flight. But now I was getting annoyed.

            “Come on Mom. I am sure she has other things to do. Go sit down.”

            “I like your mom. She’s fun to talk to,” said the manager.

For the next hour, we chatted and laughed over our sandwiches. I went to refill the drinks. “Be right back,” I said. I returned in a couple of minutes but my mother had left our table and was sitting with another mother and daughter combo. Where had they come from?

“Mom, here’s your Coke, “ I said with a sigh as I handed her the drink.

“I want to introduce you to a few ladies I just met.”

We shook hands and the older woman said, “Hi, my name is Kathy. I’m from St. Louis.”

Of course you are!

TMCC March 21, 2012 at 04:39 PM
I "Embrace" your Mom, she is a love and a rare person indeed. I wish more people were kind and friendly. My grandfather once said "your grandma can get on a bus and know everyone's name by the time she got to her destination." My four year old is like your mom. She arrives at the playground, "Hi, my name is Jasmine, do you want to play?" And after careful consideration the other day, I realized that I am much the same as my four year old, my grandmother and your mom. I was briefly becoming very annoyed and uptight a few days ago, ... I just wished for quiet and for things to get done, as I looked at my youngest daughter I realized what a joy she was and how blessed I am to have a duplicate of joy from generation to generation. Joy is a rare commodity these days. Everyone is in a rush and have become selfish in the process. How blessed you are to have a mother that walks in grace without care to the mean world that lies beside us all. Let me know when she visits again, would love to have you both here for a visit :) and thanks for the delightful story. I somehow feel comforted that I am not the only person who embarrasses my children, by being too friendly and loving. It's a journey!
Camille Thompson March 21, 2012 at 05:12 PM
Great column! There must be something about moms of a certain age. Mine was never afraid to speak her mind. Thanks for the laughs!
Annette Langer March 21, 2012 at 06:41 PM
That reminds me of my own mom. Must be our Midwest (Chicago) upbringing! Terrific column as always, Stacey.
Nancy Klein March 21, 2012 at 07:12 PM
Loved your story & your mom! Laughter & tears as I read it! ...cause it reminds me of ME :) Stacey, I think it's incumbent of you not only to share this story & all these comments with you mom, but to arrange a lunch with all her 'soul sisters' here the next time she's in town!! Cheers!!
Amy Schwab March 21, 2012 at 07:31 PM
FINALLY I had a minute to read something completely non work related and LOVED it! Great writing Stacey
Lynn Kruger March 22, 2012 at 04:52 AM
It looks like Pleasanton likes a little Midwest charm! I know I do! Let's clone your mom Stacey, sorry you have no say in the matter :). You made me laugh and made me smile as usual, thanks!

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