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“What time’s your mom getting here again?” Todd asked hesitantly. He wasn’t asking because he cared; he was asking because he wanted to know when he needed to be out of the apartment. “I’d love to see her but John and I have had this tee time scheduled for months now — it’s probably our last round of the year.”
The fact is, it hadn’t been scheduled for months. Todd saw that she had blocked off the day on her shared Google Calendar and set up a tee time via text message with John within about five minutes. He didn’t want to spend $225 on a round of golf, but going to an expensive and exclusive country club was their best excuse to appear as though they were completely locked in.
“I think she’ll be here around 11,” she responded from the bathroom.
Todd stood in the kitchen pouring his coffee from his mug into a to-go container. “Ah, shit, yeah, I have to head out in about fifteen minutes so I’m totally going to miss her — tell her how sorry I am.”
She rolled her eyes. She knew.
Frankly, she wasn’t excited to see her mom. More nervous. After all, she knew what was coming. Questions about why they hadn’t planned more. Lectures about meeting with the wedding planner on a regularly scheduled basis. Comments about why Todd had to magically skip picking out Save The Dates.
But with a hot pot of coffee ready and the apartment freshly cleaned by their once-every-two-weeks housekeeper, she took a deep breath when she knew her mom had arrived in the apartment lobby. She could almost feel her imposing nature riding up the elevator while putting the finishing touches on wiping down the kitchen island where all the invites would soon be strewn about.
It wasn’t until she heard the knock on the door that she really felt the entire weight of the situation. “Well, here goes nothing,” she thought as she approached. It was probably the first time in months she hadn’t spent the entirety of her Saturday morning in yoga pants. Instead, she traded them in for jeans, a blouse, and a very fall-feeling vest should they decide to go out for a glass of wine after.
“Mom!” she yelled with fake excitement as the door cracked open.
“Ugh,” she responded, “Now I remember why I never come into the city anymore. The way these people drive is asinine.”
Her hopes of a civil morning flew out of the apartment faster than Todd for his tee time.
“I know, I know,” she said while shooing her in. “Here, let me take your jacket for you. Can I get you a cup of coffee? Some tea?”
“Coffee’s fine, dear,” she requested, “but just know that you’re coming to me next time.”
Deep down, she wanted this to be over as much as Todd didn’t want to be there. She would’ve done the planning for the Save The Dates herself, but she knew her mom would feel slighted had she just received one in the mail like every other guest. And furthermore, she knew she was doing Todd a favor by eliminating him from the conversation altogether.
After pouring a cup and offering cream or sugar, she pulled out her wedding binder from a drawer in the kitchen. She had spent a majority of her week prepping the Save The Dates so it would be as low maintenance as possible, but even she knew that her preparations would get thrown out the window once her mom walked in.
“You could at least serve this coffee hot,” her mom commented despite the steam rolling out of the mug. She didn’t know how to respond, so she found it best to take the body blow and hope that another jab wasn’t coming.
“So here are the options I’ve decided on,” she said while spreading them across the counter like a Texas Hold ‘Em dealer.
“I love the look of this one from Minted,” she began, “but I also love this one from this small paper store I found near here.”
Her mom took her glasses out of her purse and set them gently on her face, sliding them down to the end of her nose. She picked each of them up and looked them up and down, judging them harder than she had judged her daughter’s outfit upon entering the apartment.
“And you’re dead set on these options?” she asked without immediately passing judgment. But honestly, that statement alone was judgment enough.
As she reached deeper into the binder, she took out a few more. “I like these as well,” she hesitated, “but I feel like these are the two best options in the price range you gave me.”
“Dear,” she laughed, “if I’ve taught you anything, it’s that price is always negotiable.”
She hadn’t planned on bartering with her mom, but now it seemed like the expectation. “So you think this one?” she pointed. “I talked to a girl who worked at the store and she said that we could get a price break if we did 300 instead of 250.”
“Well why were you set at 250?” her mom shot back.
“…because the venue can only hold about 180?” she answered. The feeling she had while saying it was the same feeling she got while wrongly answering a question after not doing the reading in a lecture in college.
“Honey,” she judged, “if you think that 300 people are going to RSVP to a destination wedding in Colorado, you’re kidding yourself. Just get the 300 and collect the extra gifts from those who can’t go. Hell, get 400 for all I care.”
“…okay…” she muttered. Nevermind the fact that the idea of inviting 400 people to a 180-person venue seemed like a bad idea, but going against her mom’s word seemed like an even worse idea. “Do… do you like this one?”
“If you like it, I like it, darling,” her mom said while tossing it back onto the counter. “Slap June 15th on it and call it a day.”
Was it about to be this easy? Did her mom drive 90 minutes into the city just to write off the price and tell her to invite double the people she thought she was going to originally invite? Was she about to escape from this situation free of torture?
“I must ask, though,” her mom followed up. “Where’s Todd? Don’t you think he should be here weighing in as well?”
“He told me to give you his best, mother,” she told her. “He and John are getting in one last round of golf before the weather takes a turn next week. I tried to get him to cancel, but I thought it would be good for him and his best man to get some bonding time in while we handled the girly stuff.”
This was a surprisingly diplomatic answer, much better than the answer of, “He doesn’t like you and wanted to get the hell out of the house.”
“Well aren’t you lucky,” her mom remarked. “Half the reason I came here instead of just signing a check was that I can’t seem to get your father out of the house these days — he’s taking this retirement stuff a bit too far. Would’ve been nice for Todd to invite him golfing, actually.”
She wasn’t sure how to respond. Would her dad actually want to go golfing with Todd? Surely not. He had made comments in the past about how insulting it is to have to go to the white tees while Todd plays from the black.
“Well we’ll get them out together this spring, mom, I promise.”
Her mom stood up and grabbed her coat off the back of the chair. It couldn’t have been sitting there for more than fifteen minutes.
“Are you… leaving already?” she asked.
“Heavens no,” she brushed off. “I made us a reservation at Brasserie Blanc this afternoon — you’re not wearing that, are you?” .