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My Drama Queen




by Cheryl Starr Fercho

Here’s a bizarre story about my mom and me.

I remember my mother’s expression as she sat in that jail cell. Actually, she wasn’t sitting, she was reclining.

Resembling Cleopatra, she leaned on her side, propped up on an elbow. She wore heavy eye makeup and extra-large jewelry. I seriously doubt if Cleopatra wore dark red press-on fingernails like my mom’s, but it amazed me how she could still have a queenlike air about her after being arrested for hot checks, fingerprinted, and forced to call her 16-year-old daughter to bail her out.

Funny how even in a situation where “i” was coming to her rescue, i still felt quite low around her, like one tiny, lowercase “i.” My queen mother had that effect on people. She was all flash and attitude, with a big white car (that she couldn’t afford) to match her high-and-mighty presence.

Then there was me. i’m a shy girl with fair grades, and i’m known for frequently changing my hairstyle, my wardrobe style, or even friends when the situations with them or they themselves annoy me.

That’s the bad thing about people: one can exchange them with another, but one cannot change them. That sometimes becomes quite frustrating when dealing with family, for one must usually learn to accept them. Exchanging them is almost impossible.

Sometimes acceptance truly takes an experience of being in their shoes, or in my case, jail cell. Thanks to the Queen, i found myself sitting—yes, sitting with back straight, legs together, and hands in my lap (i was too nervous to recline)—on a cold bench in the pokey.

A few months before, i should’ve known something was up when the Queen suggested that i drive the first half of the trip on our vacation to Florida. This meant i was driving her car when i got pulled over by a police officer within the first hour.

The police officer informed me that the car had expired plates. i probably should’ve noticed this before, but who pays attention to details like this on cars that aren’t theirs?

While the cop was filling out my ticket, the Queen relaxed in the passenger seat, remaining silent.

Later i discovered that at that time, there was another warrant out for her arrest for passing hot checks. She wanted me to drive to avoid a possibility of her being arrested. So i’d been used as the sacrificial driver to drive us out of the state.

As we drove away, i was highly ticked off. i informed the Queen—as strongly as someone can inform the Queen of anything—that i was not going to pay for that ticket. It was her car, and her tags, and her responsibility. Then i stuffed the ticket into her purse that reminded me of a black hole with gold sequins. Most things that entered it were never seen again.

One evening a few months later a cop showed up at home with a warrant for my arrest. The Queen never paid my ticket.

i explained things to the cop and told him it wasn’t my fault. i refused to be taken anywhere.

A few moments later the police officer took me downtown. After being fingerprinted and treated like a criminal, an officer took me to a cell to await the Queen’s arrival to rescue me this time.

i contemplated my revenge against the Queen. i would’ve been perfectly happy going through my entire life not knowing exactly how the process of being “booked” or “bailed out” or simply “released” worked. Thanks to the Queen, i now knew.

i sat there for hours wanting to cry but refusing to. i sat there for hours swearing oaths to myself never ever to forgive the Queen or even speak to her again. i sat there for hours promising myself never to fall into the life that she had. i sat there for hours while other inmates snickered at my pajamas and Batman slippers with glow-in-the-dark emblems.

i decided to ignore them in order to concentrate on vengeance and on what i was going to say to the Queen when she finally arrived.

Unexpected reaction

Around noon the next day the Queen made her entrance with a jangle of bangle bracelets.

While we walked out of the station, i was prepared to tell her off. i was going to take action. i had plans to move out or have her committed into an asylum to stop her from ruining my life. i had taken an oath and made a promise to myself. To me, i had made a promise to daughters and sons everywhere who also had queen mothers.

Her high heels crunched in the gravel parking lot as the Queen strutted toward our car with me in tow

. She didn’t look back as she said, “I thought we’d order pizza when we get home. What do you think?”

i froze with disbelief for a moment. My mouth probably hung open. How could she think of pizza at a time like this? Shouldn’t she be saying something sympathetic? At least she could’ve said something along the lines of, “Sorry, my bad.”

That’s the funny thing about people, oaths, and promises. Some we can keep, some we find we cannot. i think it determines the kind of person we are and where we’re going in life, in the choosing of which promises and oaths (or thoughts of revenge) we decide to forget about, and which people we decide not to exchange.

i looked at the Queen and suddenly saw a woman just trying to live her life. My issue was whether or not i was going to let her live her life all over mine. i realized right then that i couldn’t change her choices, but i could change mine.

Sometimes we forgive easily but never officially forgive. But right there in the parking lot, in the middle of the day, in my pajamas and Batman slippers, with strangers walking by staring at me as if i might try to mug them, i realized i didn’t have it in me to do the forgiving—i needed God to help me with that part. i said a silent prayer right then.

Thanks to the Queen, i learned how deep one has to reach within themselves, and how God meets us in that deep place to help us officially forgive if we ask Him.

Suddenly, as i looked at the Queen, who stood beside that big white car looking perfect in dark sunglasses, i realized that despite everything, i did love her, and, despite everything, God loves me, too. His love is unconditional, and He wants us to love others unconditionally also.

Thanks to the Queen, “i” grew into an “I” that day. As I stepped toward the big white car, I felt freedom, and not only from the bars. I forgave the Queen, but I didn’t forget. She drove us home, and I didn’t let her write a check for the pizza.

Cheryl Starr Fercho writes from Poplar Bluff, Missouri.





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