Mary Panza

I have always prided myself on being a cool girl. I was always at the cool places with the cool artists types. I would sneak my face in every photo possible. I have jumped on every trend from shaving my head to waxing my privates. Ego the size of my ass. That is until today.

Let me catch everyone up. I’m Mary Panza. Yes, that Mary Panza. I am from South Troy when it meant something. I wear my heritage like the obnoxious tattoo in my chest. I’m the girl whose only real goal in life was to be a party girl and eventually a bar fly. That changed when I had my daughter. She is almost six. Truth be told, I tried to be who I was with a child up until very recently. I take that privilege very seriously now. I am also a Mama’s girl. I was my mother’s champion from the time I was born until she died in October of 2011. My grief is all consuming sometimes and I find myself breathless missing her. I keep this to myself because it is just in my nature not to show any bit of my humanity to outsiders. See, the way I am is that you are guilty until you prove yourself innocent. Period.

There were things about my mother that would drive me insane. Her fanatical obedience to the church. Her hypocrisy as far as bending those church rules when is suited her. Her terrible singing, her bragging, and when she would punch me in the arm when I was wrong about something and say, “See Mare, God gotcha for that.” Whatever “that” was or is I’m still not sure. The thing that drove me the most insane is when she would screw up someone’s name. I would scream at her at what a maniac she was because I told her their name an hour ago. She would reply in several different ways depending on her mood. “Who cares?”, “She doesn’t look like her name”, “How many friends do you have?”, “Why is this important to me?”, and my favorite one: “You shouldn’t tell me things during The Price is Right.” Then she would call my friends any name that she felt like. In the end, she probably didn’t remember but for the most part she called people whatever she wanted and I don’t ever remember anyone correcting her. Like any great con artist, my mother had the amazing gift of charm.

This brings me to today.

My daughter has many great qualities. One of which is that she makes friends pretty easy. Today I was taking her to a play date of a little boy from her class. This little boy has amazing manners and is a very gentle, good kid. Usually first play dates are awkward (much like first dates I suppose) in that they are sometimes not specific. Should I stay and hang out with the mother? Do I leave my kid in this person’s house? What if the Mom doesn’t drink? What if thinks I’m a freak? Many different questions. It just so happens I knew the family and they are cool people and I’m OK with leaving her. Here is the ephinany. I have been calling the Mom a different name for months. As I was putting her number in my phone she gently said to me, “My name is not Laurie. It is Lisa.” Without skipping a beat I said, “Oh I’m so sorry. You look like a Laurie.” BA-BAM. Destiny directly between the eyes. I can feel her chubby fist in my arm from the other side.

See Mare, God gotcha.