Adults or Something

In this neighborhood, when you phone for a connection, they want you to meet them on the street. In Manhattan, our place was tinier than a cardboard box, but at least they came up to your apartment to deliver.

Gary always worries about his Uncle Joey, who's a police lieutenant in this precinct. It isn't the misdemeanor he cares about, it's facing the next family party: the looks, the remarks.

But the weirdest part of living here is my mother. Not that she lives with us--we aren't crazy--but she's close enough to pretend she is just passing by. For some reason, ever since we moved to her borough, she sees us as peers, all adults or something, and she wants to hang out. The first time she showed up, she asked if we had any pot.

"We might have some around," Gary said (like he didn't know, down to the flake, how much was in the box), deliberately ignoring the dirty look I was giving him. Then Mom asked if we felt like sharing a joint with her.

I didn't feel like it.

That was too weird.

Not that anything much happened. We smoked, Gary put on some music (some old new wave stuff I guess he thought she'd like), I made tea and brought out a half box of cookies. But--this was my mother. What if she passed out on the couch and stayed?

Actually, Gary was the one who passed out that night, but I think he was faking it.

So today, when Mom asks if we can score her some weed to take home with her, I give him a really dirty look--like, see what you've done?--and I make sure he sees it.

But he tells Mom OK, and he dials.

"Thirty minutes," he says when he hangs up the phone.

"Like a pizza," my mother says.

I try to catch Gary's eye to give him a why-me look, but he isn't looking.

"Mind if I turn on the TV?" Mom wants to know.

"Go ahead," I tell her. Then I go down the short hallway to our bathroom. When I come out, Gary is waiting for me.

"What are we going to do?" he asks. "This time the guy wants to come up."

"That's good, isn't it?" I say. It's kind of cold out.

Gary shakes his head. In the living room, my mother is laughing, watching Comedy Central.

"What about when the dude comes into the apartment?" Gary asks.

"What about it?"

"He might freak when he sees an old person hanging out." He cocks his head in the direction of the living room.

"So what?"

Gary frowns.

"My mother isn't old," I say.

I go inside and sit next to her on the couch. The door buzzes.

"That was quick," Mom says.

"This neighborhood is crazy," I say.

About the author:

Maryanne Stahl, writer and folk artist, lives in Thunderbolt, Georgia. She has published two novels, THE OPPOSITE SHORE, and FORGIVE THE MOON, for which she received a nomination for the Georgia Author of the Year Award. Her children's story, "Where Do Cats Go," won the Spirit of Moondance Award at the 2004 Moondance Film Festival. To read more of her work or to email her, visit her website: