|Anthony's Silver Pants|
|http://www.sina.com.cn 2003/06/10 11:43 《英语学习》|
One day I heard Anthony's long, giraffe-legs propelling him up the 12 stairs from the cellar. One, two, three, four, five. It was during those "trying" years. Trying to parent a child who seemed to have come from someone else's womb. My 16-year-old son rounded the corner and spurted into the kitchen where I was preparing lunch. I looked up warily. Lately each encounter was a potential dam bust. Which issue would it be now? Music? Friends? Body piercing? Late-night hours? I was running out of fingers<注1> to stick in the dyke.
"Mum, Billy Corgan has silver pants. I want a pair."
He gaped at me.
"Mo-THER...Billy Corgan is the lead singer in The Smashing Pumpkins."
Scarcely a day passed without a disagreement about the bands Anthony worshipped. I read the lyrics of each CD he brought home, pointing out every line I had a problem with. Most of them. I wasn't tuning in to this episode of hero worship.
Anthony wheedled. He badgered. He pouted.
"Where would you get them?" I said. "There's probably none in the whole city."
"I will make them then. At least lend me the money."
"Forget it. You'd wear them once." So what's the big deal, Kathleen? Said a little voice. They're jus pants. But I hitched my refusal to a post of stubbornness. No silver pants. Not on my tab.
When he came home later with a big white bag and flung it on the table, I knew the battle was lost. "Six-ninety-eight a meter," he said. "I borrowed the money." For the first time in days he was smiling, standing almost up to his 190 centimeters pretty much the same height as Billy Corgan, he reminded me often.
The shop assistant hadn't missed a thing. Pins, pattern, interfacing, zipper. And metres of glimmering fabric with tiny, quilted squares. "The lady even measured me, Mum," he said. "Now how do I do this?"
Luckily, I had taught Anthony to sew when he was 13, when he still respected me. He'd made a vest, a shirt and the pants that were in vogue, with the crotch cut to the knees.
"Just get me started." His green eyes arrested mine, challenging... pleading?
Reluctantly, I spread the glowing length of fabric on the old oak dining table, and we laid out the pieces of the jeans pattern. It was designed for an experienced sewer.
"I want the zipper teeth to show no flap," he said.
"I don't know how," I sulked. "You're on your own for that."
THE NEXT DAY I was overseeing the pocket installation when something returned to me. A bit of softness crept into my battle-scabbed heart. "Anthony, remember that cedar waxwing baby you found and hid in your pocket when you were little?" He looked surprised, then grinned.
"The one you killed when you fed it worms instead of berries?"
"I didn't know," I protested. We chuckled. Spontaneous laughter had been so long absent from our relationship that it felt strange.
Stitch by stitch, the Pumpkins worshipper and the managing mother were reconnecting. Seam by seam, fastening up the ragged edges<注2> of our relationship.
For four days we were at ease. He folded his body over my clattering sewing machine; I listened to his chatter, instructed where needed and watched his slender hands patiently rip out seams. I began remembering the son I'd given birth to. How he'd loved dressing up as a child. The day he'd played so hard he fell asleep at dinner and landed face first in his spaghetti. The first dollar he'd earned at three collecting shingles thrown down by the roofers. How gifted he was with sketching pencils and his guitar. What a loyal friend he was. How no-one could make me laugh as hard.
I remembered what it felt like to hope to see beyond the stage we were at, whether breast-feeding, toilet training or this latest rebellion. I remembered what tender love felt like.
HE WAS WEARING the silver pants before the week was out. He wore them a lot. So did his friends. One even offered me money for a pair. "Anthony made them," I told her, smiling.
My son and I didn't connect like that again for years. It would be easy to look back and rue the wasted moments. Instead, I think of that oasis of time at our dining table then I remember that my son is, above all, a child of my heart, as well as my womb.
Thanks, Billy Corgan.
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