The strangest conversation Mum and I have ever had

Some days my life is like an episode of Girls.

My mother is a lovable oddball. She’s a bit naive, and a bit of a softie. Above all else, she wants to love and be loved.

She was very young when she had me and my brother, and so in a sense the three of us were raised by my grandmother, a woman I love fiercely. Gran had a very strong religious bent, and so even though mum doesn’t practice the faith, she has all the catchphrases.

A couple of years ago I was in Gisborne, visiting my mother. We were at a restaurant, the kind with low walls separating the tables and cheap plastic tablecloths. Mum, who doesn’t have any teeth, was eating a banana split.

“Gay people make me uncomfortable,” she began. “I think God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.”

I rolled my eyes.

“They deserve love though. They are human beings and they deserve love. It’s just not something I like.”

“Okay, mum.”

“But God made Adam and Eve.”

“Not Adam and Steve. Got it.” I waved her conversation away.

She ate her banana for a while before trying again.

“Do you have anything you want to tell me?”

I paused, puzzled. “No?”

“Because I don’t want it in my house, but I do think the gays deserve love.”

“Mum, what is this about?”

“Well, your brother said that you… I mean, you haven’t bought a man home since you were a teenager and… I mean, I don’t agree with it but…”

The table next to us stopped talking and cast quick glances our way.

“What…” I left the question hanging as she pushed the rest of the banana into her mouth. It took me a moment to click. “I’m not gay, mum.”

“Well Gavin says-”

I cut her off. My brother talks a lot of shit. “He doesn’t know anything. I’m not gay.”

“You can tell me. It’s okay.”

“If I was, I’d tell you.” I paused to watch her shovel a spoonful of cream into her mouth, losing half of it down her shirt in the process. “I just haven’t had any boyfriends that would survive meeting you.”

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