Eavesdropping on a Mother-In-Law From Hell

So glad she wasn't mine.

by Donna Cavanagh • Guest Writer
cell phone, flames, mother-in-law
Photograph: iStock

It was lunchtime and I was tired of working, so I ran to my favorite cafe to get a cup of coffee and a muffin. There was some kind of technical glitch with the coffee machines (yes, that's how the coffee chick described it), so I had to wait in line behind a woman who was on her cell phone. She was having a somewhat heated conversation with the person on the other end, and I was bored, so I eavesdropped. Don’t judge me; I like to eavesdrop. It’s one of the few vices I have if I don’t count gambling, swearing, drinking and  embezzlement. Nah, I am only kidding about the embezzlement thing. I just wanted to see if you were paying attention.

Anyway, the woman was complaining to the person on the other end of the phone about her daughter-in-law. It seems that she made a surprise stop at her son’s house at 10 AM, and his wife answered the door dressed in her bathrobe. The woman could only come up with two possible explanations for the indecent attire: Her daughter-in-law was entertaining another man upstairs and the doorbell interrupted their illicit lovemaking, or her daughter-in-law was a lazy person who lounged around all day while her sainted and wonderful son worked his butt off to provide her with the beautiful things she owns.

I wanted to put my two cents in and ask what kind of bathrobe? Was it a silky, sexy thing or a terrycloth comfy robe? I also wanted to suggest that maybe her daughter-in-law was sick and that was why she not yet dressed for the day. However, I thought it best not to interfere.  I was amazed that one bathrobe could cause so much trouble. I felt fortunate that this woman was not my mother-in-law, nor was she someone who would be knocking at my door at 10 AM. I felt a keen sense of sympathy for the daughter-in-law.

This is the thing:  Sometimes I, myself, am not dressed at 10 AM. It’s not that I am in my pajamas; I am basically still in my underwear. I usually go to the gym around 7 AM, and then I come home and take my shower. Since I work from home and no one is around, there is no rush to get dressed, especially if I put on body lotion after the shower. (Yes, I like it to dry before I put on my clothes.)

I don’t parade around the house in front of the windows or anything. I just take my time getting dressed. I do laundry, write a bit—whatever. I have a very quiet neighborhood, so no one ever knocks at my door except for the Jehovah Witnesses and the windows and siding people who troll the neighborhood once every two to three months looking for clients. And if they knock, I don’t answer. Simple rule.

I think that the woman in front of me in line would not like my underwear habit if she knew about it. I think she would view me as a tramp. Anyway, we were getting closer to the counter and getting ready to order when the woman says, “Oops, I have to go, my daughter-in-law is here and we are having coffee. Sure enough, I look up and a younger woman greets the cell-phone lady with a hug and kiss.

Ooh, this was a twist. I thought maybe this was a second daughter-in-law and not the bathrobe one, but that theory was quickly dismissed.

“I see you managed to get dressed,” the older woman said sarcastically.

“I just got out of the shower when you came to the door,” the younger one responded.

“I was half thinking you had another man upstairs.”

“And I would be stupid enough to answer the door if I did?”

“It just seemed odd.”

Finally, the younger woman looked at the older woman and said, “You really are a nosy bitch, aren’t you?”

My mouth literally fell open; I might have even gasped. I can’t be sure.  My eyes were darting back and forth from the older woman to the younger one so quickly that I made myself dizzy, and I had to turn away. And that’s where it ended—not the drama, but my opportunity to listen to the drama. The manager fixed the coffee machine and opened a new cash register and called me over to take my order.  I wanted to yell, “Are you freaking kidding me—NOW?  I waited 15 minutes and now you want to serve me?”

First Published July 12, 2011

Share Your Thoughts!


Oberc Dusan09.02.2011

Agree . Simple. Rules should be respected.

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