You know what they say, if it's not the mosquitoes, it's something else. In my experience, the something else is generally an adolescent.
I leaned over to my 12 year-old son and murmured confidentially, "Look at Miss Heather. Doesn't she look hot?" She came swinging across the lawn, her red, sleeveless, v-neck dress with a full skirt juxtaposed against the deep green of the neatly trimmed grass.
His face blanched. He recoiled and choked out, "Hot?"
"Gosh, yeah. She looks fantastic. She's not hot, she's blistering," I said to the thoroughly shaken boy.
Horrified, he informed me, as if I didn't already know, "She's married."
I quickly informed him that married women can look hot. We don't give up our right to be ravishing nymphs when we say, "I do." In fact, many of us wives work darn hard to maintain our status as sizzling enchantresses.
Have you ever tried discussing such issues with a pubescent child? He glared at me and asked, emphatically, disgustedly, "Why? For who?"
"I look hot sometimes," I continued, causing a near falling-out.
Before I could say any more, he dug in. "Mama, that's gross. You're married to Daddy!" I spoke blasphemy in his opinion. He reeled from the revelation that I think of myself as attractive. The entire concept escaped his comprehension, particularly that I would put effort into grooming myself.
Very humbly, I admit that I deserve this harsh treatment from the fruit of my womb. It's been a long time coming. But it's been coming now for decades, like a def con locomotive. And when folks aren't talking about the mosquitoes, they're talking about how what goes around comes around.
At the all-knowing age of 13, I told my youthful 37 year-old mother that she was too old to wear jeans. I authoritatively announced that women her age just did not need to try to shove their butts into denim.
Why she didn't backslap me right then and there, I don't know, because I sure had it coming. She must have intuitively guessed that my real payback would come at just the time when it would hurt the most -- the point in my life when I question the appropriateness of every skirt length and check my fanny in the mirror every morning to make sure it's still in place and holding steady.
Aging is a subtle but sure event that I find myself of late, even without my child's over-emphasis of it, guarding against. From certain angles, in dim light, with my right eye closed and my head tilted, it's like it isn't even happening. After talking to my son, however, I realize that illusion works only for me.
I write all this in order to finally make a public apology to my mother. My transgression has weighed on my heart since I turned 35.
Not only did she sacrifice her afternoons to chauffeur me, but she also overlooked those terrible words I so nonchalantly tossed between us in the front seat of our brown station wagon on an otherwise uneventful Tuesday afternoon.
In the years since my 35th birthday, guilt has flared many times, especially when I wear jeans and dare to presume I look good in them.
I'm sorry, Mama.
As for my son, who feels not one shred of remorse now, I hope he heeds my warning that someday it won't be the mosquitoes making that annoying buzzing sound in his ear; it'll be his own flesh and blood. What goes around comes around, as they say.
And I'm a patient woman.
I'm prepared to accept his apology when at last it comes around.
(Lucy Adams is a syndicated columnist, freelance writer, and author of If Mama Don't Laugh, It Ain't Funny. She lives in Thomson, GA. Lucy invites readers to e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org and to visit her Web site, www.IfMama.com.)