My deeply concerned mother calls this morning to offer some "viable life options," I think is what she's calling them. It appears my parents are no longer willing to just send along the rent check without also submitting a detailed plan for my future that doesn't involve pretending to be a big Hollywood screenwriter or, failing that, walking into the sea. "Your father and I think it's time you came home," she says.
The Central Florida community where my parents retired a couple of years ago, is not my home. And, although they live alone in a palatial hilltop spread flanked by two lakes that's large enough to house both me and a sizeable herd of circus ponies, my ten-year-old twin wiener dogs, Oscar and Vienna, are not welcome there at all. There is, however, a very nice shed out back big enough for all three of us. There's electricity and running water, and my father is willing to move his ATV out and install some dry wall. I wouldn't have to pass all my time out back, she says. Only if for some reason I need to be with "the little crappers."
In the alternative, the three of us could take up residence in an RV my father recently purchased for his wild pig hunting jaunts into Georgia. I'm assured it's particularly lovely as RVs go, with "a john at least four times" the size of the one on the family boat. I want to interrupt that, although I like the idea of living in a place you can actually start up and drive off a cliff should the need suddenly arise, I can't seem to lose the mental picture of a dead pig strapped to the windshield.
Mom puts forth a final option in the form of the nice mobile home park across the lake, where "poor people" come to winter. My parents are willing to buy me a trailer -- maybe not one of those overblown double wides, but something, anything, to finally call my own. I have nothing, I'm reminded, not a single thing -- and they could go at any time, what happens to me then? She adds that I'd practically have the park to myself in the summertime when most old people head north or risk spontaneous self-immolation should the personal oxygen tank suddenly blow from the heat.
As for work, she continues, in all likelihood racing through one of her scribbled checklists, there are some very attractive teaching jobs at the local community college, which may or may not have a film and television department, but could certainly find something "arty" for me to do. To top that off, the campus offers a sweeping view of Route 441, possibly the most important trucking lane in the whole state, and it's very close to Sanford, where there's a very popular indoor mall.
We could also look into jobs at the fancified university a few towns over, which looks to be the provenance of rich, would-be Ivy Leaguers whose juvy records forbid them to leave the state. Either that or the over-tanned little turds have an unreasonable fear of imclement weather. This place may be too fancy for my blood, I'm reminded, since they don't give you a Ph. D. in film school -- not even the best one, the one where for chrissake Coppola went -- unless you're actually going there to learn something relevant.
She closes with the news that the post office Is hiring. Yes it's true, there's a classified ad in the newspaper. Really? Do they even still have classified ads? Or newspapers? She knows very well it doesn't sound all that glamorous, but it's a good, reliable civil service job with excellent benefits. "They're paying more than fifty-thousand a year," she concludes with a flourish. "That's five-oh, with a plus sign after."
With that, she's completed a Thornton Wilder-esque monologue I consider worthy of an Our Town revival at the community theater down the road. I, however, have yet to utter so much as a peep.
"Have we met?" I finally manage, enunciating very slowly and clearly. "My name is Julie."