“A Very Motorboating Christmas”

Holiday martini with a candy caneI lean on the bar, sipping a peppermint martini–a bit too sweet for my liking–and watch Kasey’s husband dive into my mom’s generous cleavage, face first. I should be outraged. Instead, I smirk a little and shrug, trying to be chill.

Raucous laughter accompanies the playlist of Christmas songs. Elbows jab, sloshing drinks while pointing out the newest entertainment. Shouts of disbelief and, “Oh my God, is this really happening?” cut through the noise.

“Bbrrrbbrrrbbrrrr,” Dean’s voice fades left and right with his furiously shaking head, the sound muffled by Mom’s chest but distinctly motorish.

She laughs, face flushed from a hot toddy, Santa hat askew and grey curls poking out like a disheveled Mrs. Claus.

I’m pretty sure she didn’t expect this when she butted into a conversation to ask, “What’s motorboating?”

I suppose it is something best demonstrated, after all.

Kasey stands next to me, wine in hand, watching as her husband makes history. Because we both know this is a moment that will never die. A thing that can’t be unseen.

We look at each other and sigh. Men.

“Jen, shouldn’t you…I don’t know, save your mom or something? She probably gets it by now.”

“I mean–he’s your husband. Mom seems OK with it. I haven’t seen her laugh like this in ages.”

“Dean!” Kasey yells his name in a half-hearted attempt to get his attention. Between the blaring music and the guys in the theater room next to us shouting at the football game, he either doesn’t hear her or chooses not to.  I’m betting the latter.

Finally, he comes up for air, grins, pumps his fist over his head. The small crowd cheers. Mom bends over in laughter then straightens to wipe the tears from her cheeks.

“Wait, wait,” Dean shouts. “One more time. For posterity!” He sets to his task again, determined to give my mom the best–and only–motorboating experience she’s ever had.

My mom was always “the cool mom.” This might be taking it too far, but who am I to judge? She just divorced my asshole stepfather of thirty years, why not let her have some fun? Kasey doesn’t seem to mind–hell, she’s laughing along with everyone else. What’s the harm in a little educational Christmas Eve motorboating?

Demonstration complete, Dean gives my mom a friendly hug.

“Don’t say I never gave you anything, Mama P.,” he says. She laughs and squeezes him back. Conversation resumes, the subject matter of choice all-too-clear. Mom snatches my martini and takes a big gulp.

Nearby, Kasey jabbers with someone about the classic SNL skit, the one with the pop star. Mom’s ears perk up. “What’s that about a box?”

Groaning, I grab her arm and lead her upstairs.

“No, Mom. Just–no. Hey I think it’s time to get the presents for the gift swap, ok?”

This’ll be the last time I bring my mom to a friend-party.

Even cool daughters have limits.

**Names changed to protect the…somewhat innocent.


  1. Oh my goodness! My mouth gaped with the first paragraph, and yeah, I was totally hooked. There’s no way I could have stopped reading it after that intro. Then I laughed out loud when I got to “What’s motorboating?” HA! Love this piece. It’s a fun story, presented expertly. Thanks for the chuckle. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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