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Wherein I Call My Mother a Tart and Don’t Want to Know How Magic Works

August 20th, 2007

The first fight my husband and I got into (he doesn’t remember this but I do), we were outside of Lisbon, Portugal, at the remains of an ancient Moorish castle. (It was Castela dos Mouros, not the Castle of Sao Jorge.) My future mother-in-law was with us — he took me to Europe to meet his mother! At the moment, I thought that was romantic, now I’m thinking — was he nuts? Did he not realize I was already pregnant and this would complicate matters?

He didn’t know. I didn’t know. The Belgian flight attendant knew, and informed both of us.

Perky, blonde attendant: “Perhaps you are pregnant?”

(This is why I hate Chimay beer to this day. Damn Belgians.)

Back to our story… Hockey God’s mother was working in Lisbon at the time. (She now works for a rec center outside of Denver. She also tap-dances. And went to see the penguins in the Antarctic. She is a versatile woman.) We were touring the countryside, in between my bouts of morning sickness, and our celebratory dinners in honor of our sudden engagement. (See: Why You Shouldn’t Get Your Girlfriend Pregnant Before Heading for Europe.)

Sorry, I keep sidetracking. Hockey God was supposed to go to Europe with his buddy, Skinny Redheaded Guy, then announced that I was going, too. Redheaded Guy mutters, “Chicks. Chicks always complicate things.” He met up with us in Lisbon, I flew home — I could only get two weeks off work — they went on to Prague, where they found a disappointed American girl who was convinced that Hockey God was flying to Europe to see her. He had made arrangements to stay at American girl’s place — they had mutual friends from Portland, Ore. What a surprise! Not only was he not single, but he was going to be a father! A wed father! She should have been happy she wasn’t the one morning-sick in Europe.

I was so taken aback, so thrilled and nervous, finding myself newly pregnant, in Europe, newly engaged, that when I miscarried I was devastated instead of relieved. I kept thinking I should be relieved. But I was devastated. (A timeline, if you’re interested: We got together, got pregnant, went to Europe, got engaged, lost our first baby, got married a year later, had Wacky Girl a year later than that — within two days of our first wedding anniversary — lost our third baby, had Wacky Boy two years later… and here we are. Four babies would have been nice, but mother nature, she has different ideas sometimes than we do.)

The fight? For some reason, the three of us (future MIL, Hockey God and myself) were talking about magic tricks, have you ever seen the one where the guy gets his new girlfriend knocked up and then… Kidding. I said my favorites were the two where you pretend to put out a lit cigarette in a white handkerchief and it disappears, and the one where you put the needle through the balloon without popping it.

“I know how to do those!” my fiance announces, “You…”

I cut him off, “I don’t want to know!

My mother-in-law looks at me, amused, and laughs.

My fiance persists. “No, I’ll tell you. You…”

Me, crying, pregnant, possibly puking on the Moorish stones, “No!” Wailing. (What a brat.) (My girlfriend Mellie, rolling her eyes: “You need to tell the Internet that you cry all the fucking time.” Internet, I cry all the fucking time. It’s terrible, really.)

The point, and I do have one, is that we were at dinner last night with my mom, and my daughter was doing magic tricks — the one where you make the salt shaker disappear, and my mom says, “You know those tricks…” and launches into a long description of the cigarette, hanky, balloon and pin.

“Well, the one trick, you…” my husband, who has learned nothing in the ten years we’ve been together, starts to say.


My mom, laughing, “Mitch did those tricks! He was in love with me.”

Me, morosely, “Yeah, who wasn’t, you were a tart.”

(Everyone was in love with her, it’s true. Our neighborhood gas station attendant, all my friends’ dads, our preacher, my teachers, and the magician, Mitch.)

Mom: “What???”

Hockey God: “You apologize to your mother right this instant!”

Me, regressing to age 12, thinking dark thoughts: What are you, my stepfather all of a sudden? Yick.

Both kids: “Tell me how it works! Tell me how it works!”

Hockey God, proceeding to explain one of the tricks: “You take the handkerchief…” (I won’t spoil it for you, even though I’m sure you know how it works.)

Mom, if you’ve read this far — sorry I called you a tart. You’re not. You weren’t. But I just wanted the magic to stay.

So I ask you, dear readers, is this what love and marriage is all about? Making the magic disappear? Because I thought it was about making the magic stay. Please advise.


  1. leslie gould says

    It all depends on the day. That’s the thing about magic. It can reappear.

    August 20th, 2007 | #

  2. Zipdodah says

    It’s all about being able to be a magical tart for the rest of our days.

    August 20th, 2007 | #

  3. slouching mom says

    Heh. Now that is funny. As is zipdodah’s comment.

    August 20th, 2007 | #

  4. Himself says

    A little clarification: Love is magic.

    Sleight of hand is not magic, and is predicated on the willingness to be deceived. I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve.

    But there is no deception in the magic of love.

    August 20th, 2007 | #

  5. edj says

    I still want to know how the flight attendant knew you were pregnant.
    The magic isn’t gone. My mother used to have a magic laundry hamper; you put your dirty clothes in and then they reappeared on your bed next day, clean and folded. I still haven’t figured out how it worked, but I want to get one. At Target, maybe?

    August 20th, 2007 | #

  6. WackyMommy says


    I was throwing up. Did I not mention that? We had a magic laundry chute. Same thing.

    August 20th, 2007 | #

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