Ainslie Paton romance author

Mum Missive: The Goose Gander Equation

Mum is a holy terror about reporting in when you’ve travelled somewhere.  Go more than two suburbs away and you need to phone in a status update as if you were on a dangerous assignment in an alien land.  The further away you go, the more often you’re required to touch base or risk the wrath of the anxious parent.

In order of apparent threat, you may be: late, broken down, flat tire, lost, mugged, in a minor accident, in a major accident, unconscious, in hospital, dead.

There are no permissible circumstances for not phoning in.  Forgetting is akin to announcing you’ve chosen to defect.  No phone coverage was once grudgingly acceptable, but no longer.

The longer you leave it to report in the more dead you obviously are.  It’s not uncommon to start a conversation after a day trip with her saying, “So you’re not dead then.”

Mum is on a trip to visit a friend in Melbourne.  Neither Dad or I heard from her on the evening of the flight.  Oh well we said, she’d be busy with Loretta.  Nothing came the next morning either.  That night I sent a text.  No response.  The next morning, I checked in with Dad.

Me:        Has she called?

Dad:       No.

Me:        Really.

Dad:       She must have a flat tire.  This is pretty funny since she flew.

Me:        She must be dead.

Dad:       That’d be it then.

As we’re talking my mobile rings.  It’s Mum.

Me:        Hello.  I put her on speaker so Dad also on speaker can hear.

Me:        Good to know you’re alive.

Mum:    Why would you say that?

Me:        You didn’t call.  You didn’t respond to my text.

Mum:    I did call.

Dad:       Not me you didn’t.

Mum:    I did call.

Me:        If you called Craig, that’s like putting money in a poker machine.  We might never get a win.

Mum:    Oh, I know that. I wouldn’t call him.

Me:        Who did you call?

Mum:    Well, I kind of forgot.

Me:        Forgot what?

Dad:       Us, obviously.

Mum:    Don’t be like that.

Me:        Last time Dad and I went to Ikea you thought we’d been sold into the slave trade.

Mum:    Well you were so long.

Me:        It was Ikea.  Who did you call?

Mum:    Our number.

Dad:       There’s no message.

Mum:    I called our number and spoke to this man.  He got cranky because I kept calling him.

Me:        What man?

Mum:    The man who has our number in Melbourne.

Dad:       You forgot to dial 02.

Mum:    Apparently.

Me:        But when you worked it out why didn’t you call Dad?

Mum:    That man on our number was very annoyed with me.  I told him it was my number and he didn’t need to get so stroppy.  I called him about four times.

There is a great deal of laughter, none of it Mum’s.

Me:        You’re making excuses.

Mum:    I was busy.

Neither Dad or I can find anything to say for a moment.

Mum:    Into the silence she says, Oh get over it.

Me:        You could’ve been in an accident.

Dad:       In hospital.

Me:        Kidnapped.

Dad:       Left me for some other bloke.

Me:        Dead.

Mum:    There’s no need to make fun of me.  I’m obviously not dead.

Dad:       What’s the other bloke’s house like?

Mum:    I’m scared I might forget and call him again.  He’s probably traced my number and reported me to the people you dob Nigerians and fake Telstra people in to.

Me:        That’s why you called my mobile.

Dad:       Well, your father’s is never charged.

Me:        You could’ve called it when the plane landed.

Mum:    Why would I do that?

Dad:       You might’ve got a flat tire.

Mum:    Why would I get a flat tire?

Me;        This is too funny.

Mum:    Look, I’m busy, I’ve got things to do.

Me:        It’s a pain isn’t it.

Mum:    It certainly is.

Me:        Now you know what it feels like.

Mum:    It’s not the same thing.

Me:        How is it not the same thing?

Mum:    I tried.

Me:        You don’t get points for trying.  You could’ve been in an accident.

Dad:       A major accident.

Mum:    You both think you’re so smart don’t you?  If I was in an accident, I’d call.

Me:        That logic never worked for me.

Mum:    Because you could be unconscious.

Dad:       Or dead.

Me:        Hey, whose side are you on?

Mum:    I’m not calling either of you again.

Me:        You’re going to call the other bloke.

Mum:    Don’t say that.  Somehow his number is in my mobile.  How did that happen?

Me:        It didn’t.

Mum:    Yes, it did.  I can show you.  I didn’t put it there.  I’m a bit worried about it.

Me:        Oh, I’m not sure I have enough gas in the tank to do this.

Dad:       Go on.

Me:        That number is your number.

Mum:    That’s right.  That’s what I told that man.

Me:        Think about it.

Mum:    Oh, yes, I forgot the 02.  None of this would’ve happened if your father charged his mobile.

Me:        It’s Dad’s fault.

Dad:       Usually.  Unless it’s your fault and then I get a free pass.

Mum:    I’m not calling either of you again.  I’ll be home in a few days anyway.

Me:        Unless you’ve been taken to hospital.

Dad:       After a major accident and you’re dead.

Me:        Let me tell you, if I’m dead you’ll hear about it.

Dad:       But probably that other bloke will hear about it first.

Hello, what are you thinking?

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