I can’t remember the first time I noticed that I ever indulged in drinking a beer in the shower but I remember when my mother noticed it.
It was Christmas break my junior year at college. I had been waiting tables to earn money for books and fun for the upcoming semester and I was inarguably the worst waitress on the planet. I am not indulging in hyperbole. Usually, by the end of the night neither the chefs nor the bartenders would care to talk to me. To them, I was nothing more than a serious irritant. Drink orders confused me as I had no experience other than a very, very limited knowledge of wine and beer, dinner orders sometimes came out before appetizers, soup and desserts were forgotten, and inevitably every night at least one costly dinner had to be comped because of my error. My wine service was as embarrassing to the restaurant owner as my inability to up sell was frustrating. I think he only kept me on because I was pretty good at smiling.
But I wasn’t smiling the night I came home after a particularly dreadful day to see that some official looking mail from my college had been opened by my mother. In hindsight, she opened all official looking mail since, afterall, she was taking care of the bills and, I didn’t want to open that kind of correspondence anyway. However, this particular piece of mail did not hold financial information but instead offered numbers of another variety and import: my grades. And this semester had not been so good. The previous year I had taken some time off due to an illness and when classes started in the fall I had new ideas about what was important. Classes that blew my mind were important; classes that I could easily fall asleep in were not. Consequently, I skimmed through a philosophy class and poured my intellectual heart and soul into an English class taught by my favorite professor. Unfortunately, neither class seemed to notice my efforts (or lack of) and I received the very same grade in each of these classes. I was hurt. And embarrassed. The injustice of your mother reading your disappointing grades before you was only insult to the wound of the mediocre grades, which was just more injury on top the awful current employment. So I gave my mother the kind of hell that a only a self centered post teenager can deliver and stomped up the stairs to take a shower to wash off the awful smell of dirty dishes that lingered on my hands long after the shift had ended. But mostly I went to hide.
Half way through the shower, when the pain was beginning to ease a little, I heard the bathroom door squeak open- normally an event that would have angered me as invading bathroom time in our house was simply not done- but then I noticed an uncapped, dark brown bottle had gently found its way past the shower curtain onto the edge of the bathtub.
My mother, my dear, sweet mother who paid my bills and supported me emotionally, financially, physically and, everlastingly, knew- KNEW- how to ease the pain of all these injuries. A beer in the shower. And then everything was all right.
O, to be known so well.