Okay, BITCH! I got another one of your FUCKIN’ numbers! I’ve already got seven! No, this ain’t the number, call the other number! You call the other fuckin’ number and you gotta wait for another fuckin’ number! Then call fuckin’ Baltimore! Then find out what state you’re in. Then call THAT fuckin’ number! And then find out they didn’t take the fuckin’ Medicare!”
My mom was on the phone again.
“Now, cunt Mary motherfuckers of the planet, YOU do this shit! All this shit! Every fuckin’ time for TWENTY YEARS I have called these motherfuckers it’s like this! Don’t know what the fuck you’re talkin’ about!”
I was around fifteen years old, just getting into hip-hop and recording everything I could all the time, songs off the radio, stuff off the TV, my friends goofing around. So one day I decided to record one of her phone calls.
“Fuck it! I’m a psychopathic, cocksuckin’ fuckin’ sinner! Jesus, if you’re going to do something to me, then DO IT! I can’t fuckin’ take it!”
What you can’t hear on the page is that she’s screeching so loud the neighbors can hear it in the next apartment, and what you can’t see is that she’s frantically pacing back and forth, chain-smoking, slamming her fists on the kitchen counter, and throwing shit at the wall, like a child having a tantrum because she’s been put on hold for the millionth time.
“Yeah, you stupid cunt, it’s correct! Fuckin’ bastards! Fuckin’ swine! Fuckin’ motherfucker! Are you gonna fuck with me or help me?!”
It was like this every day, and this was mild.
“Fuckin’ bitch! Fuckin’ knows how to fuckin’ tell me how to fuckin’ CALM DOWN! She can’t even fuckin’ see the name of the fuckin’ benefits!”
She was calling some government agency about her medication, whichever pill she was taking that month to balance her brain. Zoloft, maybe. I can’t remember them all. One day it was her medication, the next day it was welfare or food stamps.
“All I want to know is if these GODDAMN people pay for this FUCKIN’ medicine! Because what am I supposed to fuckin’ do?! Go back to the fuckin’ doctor here? This medicine they don’t pay for. I don’t know… write me out another one! Okay, here, go to the pharmacy. Oh, they don’t pay for this. Okay, let me go back to the doctor again! Here, hmmm, let’s see… take this medicine!”
She was a sick person, and she was in pain, so she was lashing out at the people who were trying to help her. Which is pretty much the story of her life.
“Thanks! That’s all the FUCK I wanted to know! Why couldn’t I get somebody a fuckin’ half hour ago to say that! We’re dropping like flies ’cause we fuckin’ want to kill ourselves so they get a POPULATION CONTROL!”
Whenever I tell my story and I get to the stuff about my mom, part of me feels like a liar and a fraud, like I must be exaggerating this stuff to make myself sound tougher, because if I tell it this way, I’ve got one of the craziest American come-up stories in history. Then I go back and listen to this tape, and I remember: “Oh. Right. It was actually more fucked up than what I usually tell people.”
Still, as strange and fucked up as my life may have been because of her, her life was actually way worse than mine.