I picked my mom up at 10:30, figuring that would give us plenty of time to do all the things she wanted to do and get back to Rossmoor on time for dinner.
We left and drove down 24 west. Now, I should say that driving in my car with my mother as a passenger presents, um, challenges. I currently drive a Mercedes 300D with 401,000+ miles on it. It’s in good shape, but it’s pretty noisy inside the cab. That is not simply because it is old. These cars have a reputation of being noisier than regular cars. Besides that, I am practically deaf in my right ear. The passenger seat is on my right side. My mom? Well, to say that she is soft spoken is a bit of an understatement and she has a habit of talking in the direction of the windshield. As a side note, she has hearing aids, because she is almost deaf, too. So when she talks to her half-deaf son (who is apparently in front of her and not to the side) while driving in a noisy car down the freeway, you get a lot of this:
-MMMmmmMmmhnemmmnn (now turned towards me)
-I SAID (she’s shouting in my direction now) IT’S A VERY BEAUTIFUL DAY.
As we approached the new bridge, she began to lean a bit forward, looking for it. Couldn’t see it couldn’t see it couldn’t see it. Ah, there is it. Beautiful.
All the way across, she sat looking out the window, silently watching the bay slip by. Then, about half way across the new span she turned me me and said: Well, at least they won’t have to worry about people jumping off. And there you go.
We drove into San Francisco and turned around, drove back. Again, sitting silently, this time watching the old span, shadow and light flittering by the windows. I asked her what she thought and she said: Well, I think it’s a great improvement. And cracked up. I have it on video. So that was that. A lot more subdued than I had imagined.
We took 880 down to San Leandro, to the new Kaiser Hospital. It’s reallyreally big. (During all this freeway time, we are trying to have car conversations and sometimes succeeding and sometime failing. Over and over. That can be exhausting.) She’d heard there was going to be a mall associated with the hospital and seemed little disappointed that she could not see one, though she speculated that there might be enough room inside for one. We drove by her old condo. It is, in fact, still there but with a different color that I did not notice.
That done, it was time for lunch at Elio’s. This is an old-school family-type diner, with decor that has not changed since the 90s. It’s supposed to be a Greek-themed place, but I did not see anything Greek on the menu. Having been raised with Greek food (dad was Greek), I was looking forward to some Moussaka. But, alas, the restaurant was Moussaka-challenged.
I threw cholesterol caution to the wind and ordered a chicken fried steak, and I am pretty sure that what I got was a meat-related product: a disk about 7 inches in diameter and about three-eights inch thick of probably cubed steak, though it felt more like pressed meat flakes with the occasional gristle for that real meat feel. Needless to say, if I go back, no on the CFS. I will stick to standard diner fare (eggs, pancakes, omelets) or the old stand-by: fried chicken.
Next stop, panty shopping.
The panties (Oops, underwear. My mom does not like the term panties when referring to her panties) were in J.C Penny’s in Southland Mall in Hayward, even farther south. We walked through Southland (which is the third-most depressing mall I have ever been in) and into Penny’s, where I saw something that not only have I never seen, but never thought I would see: women’s pants designed to accentuate the camel toe. WTF? Why would you want to show that off? I mean, what if I wore pants that had a built-in banana hammock? At first I thought that the pants had been put onto the mannequins wrong: they had been stretched funny or something. But nope. They were camel toe pants. As I walked past, I wanted to stare but I didn’t want to stare. I wanted to be sure that what I thought I was seeing was what I actually was seeing, but I didn’t want anyone to think I was a pervert or something. We were, after all, walking through the girl’s department. It was a problem. I’m not sure what I am going to do if I see them on a real person.
My mom asked where the lingerie department was. Apparently it’s okay to think of your underwear as lingerie, but not as panties. Up to the next floor and to the three-tiered rack that displayed our treasure: three-packs of granny panties. She told me her size and we started rifling through bags of underwear. But it wasn’t enough to find panties in her size (easy-peasy), they had to be cotton and not polyester. Which created a challenge. Apparently, my mom wears a popular-sized panty in the popular material. I must have spent 15 to 20 minutes or more looking at the front of everysinglepackage. And I mean that literally. I looked at everysinglepackage.
I was getting impatient and my head was a little tense. What with all the loud startstop conversations and the panties and the weird steaklike thing. I was getting pretty well ready for the end of the day.
In the end, my mom walked out with four packages of three panties each. Twelve panties. Enough for the year. Back through the third-most depressing mall I know of, smelling of baking pretzels and sugary coated carbo-loads of junk.
So about five hours after I picked her up, we arrived back at Rossmoor. My mom with her new pant. . . underwear and having visited the new bridge she may not have otherwise seen before she died. And she looked pretty happy.
And off she walked into the Waterford at Rossmoor, to get ready for dinner.
So did I earn the good son designation? I think so. At least for a little while.