Friday, February 11, 2011
On my mother,The-Never-Had-A-Bad-Hair-Day, Lila Hamilton Alvarez
My mother makes me crazy. I say this because she is perfect. I once heard a joke that went like this: Two men are drinking at a bar. One man says to the other, “What brings you here every night? For me, my wife can’t do anything right. I can’t stand being around her.” The second man shakes his head and replies, “It’s not my wife’s faults that are killing me. It’s her virtues.” The first man says, “Wow! You have my sympathy. That’s even worse.”
I can relate to the second man’s point of view like nobody’s business. All my life I have lived in the shadow of the most beautiful, in-control, stylish, intelligent, and knowledgeable woman on this planet, my mother, the Blond Ice Princess.
Since I was a little kid, my girlfriends used to tell me how lucky I was to have such a ‘with it and gorgeous’ mom. When I got a little older, all my boyfriends developed huge crushes on her. I think most of them hung out with me, just to get to her.
When Dad was alive, he said Mom was the only woman alive to clean fish in a beaded Halston gown. Mom would respond, arching one of her famous eyebrows, that she didn’t see anything wrong with that, because she always wore an apron over it. Then they’d both laugh. It was a running joke between them.
These two were seriously in love. Dad worshiped Mom and Mom adored Dad. They were a modern day Romeo and Juliet, he the Mexican immigrant made good, and her the Palo Alto blueblood.
I’m told I take after my father in nearly every way. Dark hair, twilight colored eyes, fiery temper. When I was a kid, everybody said, “Lee’s got Roberto’s features but not his fixtures.”
Not that anyone ever said this around Mom. First of all, too crude. Gender-based innuendos are not made around L. H. Alvarez. She would be scandalized. And secondly, my mother can’t stand it when people use nicknames or abbreviations. She calls it lazy. I have been called Liana, since I dropped out of the womb. Whoops. Scratch that remark. Back to being too crude.
And what really makes her crazy – ha ha - is how at the tender age of eleven, I became enamored of Dashiell Hammett, the quintessential writer of hard-boiled detective stories. Dad had given me a set of the famous writer’s books for my birthday and, man oh man, it changed my life. I never looked back. Becoming a PI was the next logical step.
You could say I cut my teeth on Sam Spade. That’s who I emulate. Of course, I like to wear a Vera Wang and sip on a Starbuck’s mocha latté as I emulate.
Well, after all, I am my mother’s daughter.