When I tell people my mother lives in The Netherlands, their reactions differ according to sex and age.
The women say something like, “Oh, The Netherlands! All those tulips!”
Young adults? “You know weed is legal there?”
But on more than one occasion I’ve been inexplicably asked, “Does she work for the State Department? She a spy?” Only men have asked me this, and I’ve wondered if the men among Charlotte’s IBM/banking community are just a paranoid bunch.
I got an email along those lines after yesterday’s post:
….and I hope I’m not too forward in inquiring if your mother works for the USA gov’t?
My mother has lived in the UK, Germany, and Singapore, but it’s only The Netherlands which has earned this response. I’m not sure how Mom+ The Netherlands= International Espionage, and it makes me wonder if there is something about The Netherlands that I don’t know. I don’t think my sister has ever been asked this question about our mother, and so maybe it’s something about me. Maybe I just seem like the daughter of an international spy? I’d like to believe I do.
But my mother is not a spy. I’m almost certain of this, because she’s worse at keeping secrets than I am. She makes a pretense of acting as if it will save you, somehow, if she tells you her secret; gives you your surprise early.
In August she’ll tell me, “Honey, I don’t want you to worry about your feet being cold this winter, because I bought you the most gorgeous boots for Christmas.”
She’ll then explain her need to give me the boots right then, adding with finality, “Now this is IT for Christmas. And I can’t do any more! But I do want you to have them now so your feet won’t be cold. You won’t be disappointed if you don’t have something to open at Christmas, will you? Because, girl, This. Is. It.”
A month or so later, after she inquires about how the boots are wearing, she’ll hesitate for the tiniest wee fraction of a second before sighing and saying, ” Well, you’ll need the earrings I just bought you for Christmas to go with those boots.” As if she has no choice but to give them to me, as if the universe might find fault with her if she doesn’t. And then she’ll give me the earrings because the boots neeeed them….and go get another gift. She will save my life, yet again, by giving the next gift to me before Christmas, as well. And in this manner I’ll be quite well dressed by Christmas, when I open my Christmas present.
Does this woman sound like she could be a spy? She couldn’t find the time to gather state secrets unless they were downtown in the The Hague’s shopping district, mixed in with all the cute new things to buy.