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The Kids Guide to Divorce by Lorrie Moore

Put extra salt on the popcorn because your momll Eye the tube suspiciously. All the bad
say that she needs it because the part where Inger guys will let Cary Grant take Inger Berman away
Berman almost dies and the camera does tricks to in the black car. There will be a lot of old-
elongate her torso sure gets her every time. fashioned music. Stand and pull your bathrobe up
Think: Geeze, here she goes again with on the sides. Hang your tongue out and pretend to
the Kleenexes. dance like a retarded person at a ball. Roll your
She will say thanks honey when you come eyes. Waltz across the living room with
slowly, slowly around the corner in your slippers exaggerated side-to-side motions, banging into
and robe, into the living room with Grandmas old furniture. Your mother will pretend not to pay
used-to-be-salad-bowl piled high. I made it attention to you. She will finally say in a flat voice:
myself, remind her, and accidentally drop a few How wonderful, gee, you really send me.
pieces on the floor. Mittens will bat them around When the music is over, she will ask you
with his paws. what you want to watch now. Shell hand you the
Mmmmm, good to replenish those salts, TV Guide. Look at it. Say: The Late, Late Chiller.
shell munch and smile soggily. Shell screw up one of her eyebrows at you, but
Tell her the school nurse said after a say please, please in a soft voice and put your
puberty movie once that salt is bad for peoples hands together like a prayer. She will smile back
hearts. and sigh, okay.
Phooey, shell say. It just makes it thump, Switch the channel and return to the sofa.
thats all. Thump, thump, thumpoh look! She Climb under the blue afghan with your mother.
will talk with her mouth full of popcorn. Cary Tell her you like this beginning cartoon part best
Grant is getting her out of there. Did you unplug where the mummy comes out of the coffin and
the popper? roars, CHILLER!! Get up on one of the arms of the
Pretend you dont hear her. Watch Inger sofa and do an imitation, your hands like claws,
Berman look elongated; wonder what it means. your elbows stiff, your head slumped to one side.
Youd better check, shell say. Your mother will tell you to sit back down.
Groan. Make a little tsk noise with your Snuggle back under the blanket with her.
tongue on the roof of your mouth. Run as fast as When she says, Which do you like better,
you can because the next commercials going to be the mummy or the werewolf, tell her the werewolf
the end. Unplug the popper. Bring Mittens back in is scary because he goes out at night and does
with you because he is mewing by the refrigerator. things that no one suspects because in the day he
Hell leave hair on your bathrobe. Dump him in works in a bank and has no hair.
your moms lap. What about the mummy? Shell ask,
Hey baby, shell coo at the cat, scratching petting Mittens.
his ears. Cuddle close to your mom and shell Shrug your shoulders. Fold in your lips.
reach around and scratch one of your ears too, Say: The mummys just the mummy.
kissing your cheek. Then shell suddenly lean With the point of your tongue, loosen one
forward, reaching toward the bowl on the coffee of the chewed, pulpy kernels in your molars. Try
table, carefully so as not to disturb the cat. I to swallow it, but get it caught in your throat and
always think hes going to realize faster than he begin to gasp and make horrible retching noises.
does, your mom will say between munches, hand It will scare the cat away.
to hand to mouth. Men can be so dense and Good god, be careful, your mother will
frustrating. She will wink at you. say, thwacking you on the back. Here, drink this
water.
Try groaning root beer, root beer, like a Act hurt. Affect a slump. Pick up a
dying cowboy you saw on a commercial once, but magazine and pretend youre reading it. The cat
drink the water anyway. When you are no longer will rejoin you. Look at the pictures of the food.
choking, your face is less red, and you can breathe Your mom will try to pep you up. Shell
again, ask for a Coke. Your mom will say: I dont say: Look! Pat Benatar! Lets dance.
think so; Dr. Atwood said your teeth were Tell her you think Pat Benatar is stupid
atrocious. and cheap. Say nothing for five whole minutes.
Tell her Dr. Atwood is for the birds. When the B-52s come on, tell her you
What do you mean by that? She will think theyre okay.
exclaim. Smile sheepishly. Then the two of you
Look straight ahead. Say: I dunno. will get up and dance like wild maniacs around the
The mummy will be knocking down coffee table until you are sweating, whooping to
telephone poles, lifting them up, and hurling them the oo-ah-oos, jumping like pogo sticks, acting
around like Lincoln Logs. like space robots. Do razz-ma-tazz hands like your
Wow, all wrapped up and no place to go, mom at either side of your head. During a
your mother will say. commercial, ask for an orange soda.
Cuddle close to her and let out a long, low, Water or milk, she will say, slightly out of
admiring Neato. breath, sitting back down.
The police will be in the cemetery looking Say shit, and when she asks what did you
for the monster. They wont know whether its the say, sigh: Nothing.
mummy or the werewolf, but someone will have Next is Rod Stewart singing on a roof
been hanging out there leaving little smoking piles somewhere. Your mom will say: Hes sort of cute.
of bones and flesh that even the police dogs get Tell her Julie Steinman saw him in a store
upset and whine at. once and said he looked really old.
Say something like gross-out, and close Hmmmm, your mother will say.
your eyes. Study Rod Stewart carefully. Wonder if
Are you sure you want to watch this? you could make your legs go like that. Plan an
Insist that you are not scared. imitation for Julie Steinman.
Theres a rock concert on Channel 7, you When the popcorn is all gone, yawn. Say:
know. Im going to bed now.
Think about it. Decide to try Channel 7, Your mother will look disappointed, but
just for your moms sake. Somebody with greasy shell say, okay, honey. Shell turn the TV off. By
hair who looks like Uncle Jack will be saying the way, shell ask hesitantly like she always does.
something boring. How did the last three days go?
Your mother will agree that he does look Leave out the part about the lady and the
like Uncle Jack. A little. part about the beer. Tell her they went all right,
A band with black eyeshadow on will that hes got a new silver dart-board and that you
begin playing their guitars. Stand and bounce up went out to dinner and this guy named Hudson
and down like you saw Julie Steinman do once. told a pretty funny story about peeing in the
God, why do they always play them down hamper. Ask for a 7-Up.
at their crotches? Your mom will ask.
Dont answer, simply imitate them,
throwing your hair back and fiddling bizarrely
with the crotch of your pajama bottoms. Your
mother will slap you and tell you youre being
fresh.

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