As we drove home, I reflected on what I now held in my hands: two tickets, several books in a bag, and a condom. How in the hell did this happen?
It was late at night as my mother drove us home. The lights outside were bright, but these lights weren’t the streetlamps that lit the city during times of darkness. The ramp to the 405 going north was closed apparently and the construction crew’s giant lamps lit the streets in strong beams of white light.
“Great!” My mom scowled at the construction workers getting their tools from the orange boxes in the back of their trucks.
“Did you enjoy the show?” I tried to ease her down and take her anger off the construction workers. She turned her eyes toward me and forced a smile. I looked at the condom in my hand and laughed. “Come on, mom, it was funny.”
“Funny?” She repeated the word as if it was foreign to her.
“I mean, don’t you think it was lucky of us to get to UCLA on time? And also aren’t we lucky to have gotten my books signed by David Sedaris right before they cut off the line behind me?”
“Yeah, I guess luck was on our side today.” She pushed her dirty-blond hair out of her eyes and behind her ear, so that she could see the road clearly. “But I still don’t like what he did when you finally got your books signed.”
“Well, I just told him that I was an eighteen-year old writer, who just graduated, and then he all of the sudden started searching for something in his blue bag. How was I supposed to know what he put into my hands? I was just as surprised as you were. He said that it was a ‘graduation present’ from him to me.” I smiled.
“And that ‘graduation present’ ended up being a condom,” my mom added.
“He’s a comedian, really,” I reassured her.
“Yeah, lucky you warned me. I would’ve punched his lights out if he wasn’t.”
I laughed loudly as I thought of my warm, kind-hearted mom punching out David for his actions. “Still,” I wiped a tear from my eye, “you didn’t answer my question: what did you think of him?”
“He’s a nice guy, I guess,” she forced herself to say, “but he better cool it with the sex jokes. How are those pictures I took of him though? Did any of them turn out good?”
I almost forgot of my mom’s secret pictures; David wouldn’t let us take any of him, because he didn’t like how he looked. So I asked my mom, who was bad with technology, to sneak in and take pictures of him while he signed books. I flipped on the digital camera and noticed that all the pictures were terrible. A picture of a coat. A hand. My mom’s thumb. A blurry person. Darkness.
“How are they? Awesome, right?”
“Mom, they suck.” I turned off the camera and stared at the road with her.
“Well, I tried,” she sighed.
“We seriously have to train you on how to handle a camera.”
“What can I do? He didn’t want any photos.”
“Well,” I said thinking about how nervous mom was on taking pictures of him, “whatever.”
She led us through the dim lit streets as the darkness covered the sky. Though I had no good pictures of David Sedaris, I still had some pictures, at least. Not only that, but I had the signatures in my books, the memory, and of course, the condom.