Over the weekend I attended a 4th of July party at the home of a friend whom I’ve known since elementary school. Upon being introduced to the other guests, I was greeted by my friend’s mother, whom I haven’t seen in at least 20 years, but with whom I had been fairly well acquainted in the past. We hugged our hellos, and sat down to chat.
Mrs. B was the mother who was always available to help with end-of-the-year class parties, chaperone field trips, and drive the car pool. She was the super-sweet, always-smiling mom who was helpful to all of her son’s classmates. She made sure we buckled our seatbelts in her station wagon and always offered a ride home to the walkers when it was raining after school. All-American sitcom moms were modeled after this lady.
Strangely, when she next offered me a beer at the party, I hesitated. It was a hot summer afternoon and we were sitting out by the pool, so a cold beer would have been perfect. But I suddenly felt like I was 9 years old again, and a beer suddenly felt like something I wasn’t allowed to have. Surely she should have offered me a nice soft drink instead. Did I hear wrong? No, she definitely said “beer” because she was now reciting the various choices on hand. I finally stammered a weak, “yes, please…thank you…” and took my seat.
When she returned with a chilled Samuel Adams Summer Ale zipped up in a koozie, I found myself unable to take a sip while she was watching. It didn’t matter that she was drinking one herself (after all, she’s an adult!), and it didn’t matter that her son was also drinking one…heck, everyone at the party was drinking them. It didn’t matter that I’m 37 years old and have been legally drinking for 16 years. All I could think was, this is Mrs. B and she just handed me a beer…not Kool-Aid, not chocolate milk, but an icy cold beer. Just like I can’t call her by her first name, I couldn’t sip a beer in front of my childhood friend’s mom. I waited till she distracted by one of the grandkids before I could imbibe.
As the evening progressed my self consciousness faded, and I couldn’t help but laugh at myself for once again reverting to the shy, always-does-the-right-thing girl I once was. It was another reminder that time marches on; another chapter in the book of Hey, When Did Everybody Grow Up?