Valentine’s Day is approaching, so I figured I’d take a moment to acknowledge some of the people in my life who I love.
Because even though she’s occasionally certifiable, I love my mom.
A few years ago, my mom called me.
“Honey,” she said, “I yelled at the one guy from the TV.”
Now, this could mean anything. It could mean she yelled at the TV itself, yelled at someone who is somehow associated with a television set, or yelled at someone who can be seen on TV. In this case it was the latter.
“Which guy, mom?”
“Oh, you know.”
This happens often. My mom says something incredibly random and expects me to know what she’s referring to. The problem is, I’m so used to how crazy random she can be, I often know exactly what she’s talking about. I’m fairly sure this is a sign of my own lunacy. And, to compound things, since I always know what she’s talking about, she has no idea how random and crazy she’s being.
I eventually found out that the person she was talking about was Rick Steves.
“Wait,” I asked, feeling my blood pressure rise in the way only my mother can make it, “What do you mean you yelled at him? You mean, like, you yelled at the TV?”
“No, no. He had some thing where he was speaking and I went to it and yelled at him.”
“Um, mom? Why did you yell at Rick Steves?”
“Because he’s totally biased towards northern Italy. And I told him that his racism against southern Italy was wrong.”
“And what did he say?”
“Oh, he didn’t say anything and went on to the next question.”
WELL OF COURSE HE DID. Because my mom is the travel equivalent of that crazy lady who ranted that Obama was “an A-rab” at a McCain convention. Except, you know, liberal. And slightly less crazy. And, in this case, totally right.
Because Rick Steves is totally biased towards northern Italy.
What? My mom can get one right. Even a stopped clock is correct twice a day.
But he does seem to love the north of Italy and look down on the south. Which I am okay with, because, frankly, the north ain’t all that. I love Florence and Milan and Genoa, but those places aren’t home to me. When I’m there, no one stops me in the street to ask who I am, like they do in my grandmother’s village. And when I tell them, they don’t look at me with sad eyes and say, “Your grandparents were friends of mine.”
And there is nothing, nothing in the world like being in Rome with my mom. My mom, who gets lost on the way to the grocery store she’s been to a million times, can navigate the tangled streets of Rome like she never left. These are amazing, glorious experiences. They are things that few people will see, and Rick Steves certainly won’t. So when she thinks that he’s snubbing these things, these things that she loves dearly, I understand that it makes her sad. But hey – it’s a good thing. It keeps those places beautiful and untouched and special and truly ours.
I tried telling her that. But I don’t think it worked.
Because I don’t think harassing poor, chino-clad Rick Steves in front of his adoring fans is such a great idea … unless say, you’re my mother. For some reason, her crazy, misguided self-righteousness is usually well-meaning, and occasionally downright endearing.
“I’m glad I told him off,” she said, rather proudly.
And I kind of am, too.