The Devoted Son*
Donnie’s mother moved into her son’s waterfront home in L.A. two weeks before Thanksgiving.
“Lower Alabama,” Donnie, owner of Eternal Tranquil Chapel, explained to his friends. “A euphemism for redneck culture on the Southern Gulf Coast. Though, actually, SummerSound isn’t excruciatingly bad. There hasn’t been a lynching in months. Sort of an artsy resort community infested with urban bohemians yearly and northern snowbirds seasonally.”
Donnie described his mother, Mrs. Hershel Donald Lawrence or Virginia Adel, in four s’s, “Short, scented, seventy-six, silver-gray.” Rattled off the reasons she moved in with him on his fingers. “A. Didn’t want to live alone. Even surrounded by domestics—foreign or domestic, legal or illegal, or any combination of the four. B. Couldn’t tolerate that retirement community in Fort Lauderdale anymore, claimed allergic reactions to bingo and shuffleboard. C. Way too active and alert to stick inside a nursing home with the assisted living label attached.”
He loved his mother beyond death. Was convinced she and his father only had sex once which conceived him. Shut her eyes frantically repeating the Twenty-third Psalm in silence until the deed was done. Didn’t get past the valley of the shadow line. Yet she kept torturing him with the “When are you getting married?” question.
Every other sentence was “I want grandchildren before I die” or “The patter of little feet will be like beating to my heart.” She also liked to throw in that by not multiplying he would end the Lawrence line forever (stressed in capital letters); “A proud heritage which has produced soldiers for two wars.” She didn’t count Vietnam because it wasn’t legally declared. (Uncle Leland’s only son Tommy, three years older than Donnie, who skipped to Canada to avoid the draft, was killed in a car accident coming back to the States after being pardoned. Donnie’s mother would sigh, shake her head, and whisper that Tommy was a wild one and his reproductions, if any, also weren’t legal).
Tommy’s past lifestyle was one of Donnie’s family’s ironies. He guessed his was another. Donnie didn’t want to disappoint his mother, but she was fighting nature. Donnie was a homosexual. He was gay, queer, a fairy, fag, queen or whatever the current degrading slang or politically correct euphemism was. (from DEARLY BELOVED)