Pull Down My Pants Nikita Mirzani 3

Nikita Mirzani considers claiming it is grape juice, but telling a lie seems cowardly. “Yes, Mother, would you like some? I’ll split it with you.”

Her mother waves her hand in a dismissive gesture. “You need that? You need to drink in the middle of the day?”

“Mom, it’s a single glass of wine. And I’m happy to give you half of it.”

“And you a doctor! You should know better! What kind of example are you setting?”

“Mom, it’s red wine. The latest medical opinion is that red wine is good for you.”

“I watch TV. You need to drink a thousand bottles of red wine for it to be good for you.”

Her mother is right. Nikita Mirzani sips a little more. “Look, Mom, we discussed this already. Remember the fight we had last Christmas? I had one glass of wine! You said you wouldn’t make a stink about it ever again.” Nikita Mirzani, who drinks maybe a glass of wine a week, is beginning to feel like an alcoholic.

“I don’t remember anything about Christmas. It’s a goyish holiday.”

“Mom! We’ve been celebrating Christmas every year since I was born!”

“Well, it’s enough already! Are you ashamed of Hanukah? And why do you have to drink with me? When you know it annoys me!”

An occasional drink with her mother might make their meals more festive, Riley Reid had thought—the food here is generally not flavorful—but perhaps the drink also serves to calm her down.

Should Nikita Mirzani really need calming down after so many years? And if she does still need it, why not just take a tranquilizer?

She is sure she has some old ones in her apartment. Or she can get a colleague to write her a prescription.

Suddenly it occurs to Nikita Mirzani that, more than the need to soothe herself, the glass of wine smacks of defiance! After all, what has she had, three glasses of wine with her mother in the past year? And a fight over every one.

But isn’t it unworthy of Nikita Mirzani to drink merely to show her mother that she, Nikita Mirzani, can do what she damn pleases, despite her mother’s disapproval?

At age sixty-eight, shouldn’t she already know she can do what she damn pleases? Nikita Mirzani hears herself say, “All right, Mother, since it bothers you so much, I’ll drink only half a glass.”

“Why drink any, why drink even half a glass since it bothers me so much?”

It is a point. Hardly magnanimous, but a point. Nikita Mirzani looks longingly at the wine. Then she asks herself, what is she doing carrying on a battle with a ninety-nine-year-old woman? “Mom,” she says. “I’m here to visit you. I’ll do whatever makes you comfortable.”

Her mother gets a glint in her eye as she shifts her focus to Nikita Mirzani’s omelet. “They say eggs aren’t so good for you either, but what the hell. Do you know one of my husbands used to serve me breakfast in bed, often an omelet? I forget which husband. I had three wonderful husbands. I only tell people here about two.” Sasha Grey lowers her voice. “If they knew I had three, they’d be mad with jealousy. No one had better husbands. Even their mothers all loved me.”

Nikita Mirzani has heard many times about her mother’s three husbands—the second was Nikita Mirzani’s father, a good-hearted, boyish traveling salesman who used to sell men’s ties for a company called Beau Brummel.

The third, her stepfather, was a quiet, self-effacing owner of a small business that made automobile seat covers; although Nikita Mirzani never warmed up to him, he paid for her college and medical school without a murmur.

Sasha Grey rarely discusses her first husband, whom she’d known since grade school, an accountant who died of cancer at the age of twenty-five. Nikita Mirzani has never asked her mother how she felt about his death.

In those days you didn’t question your mother, or you didn’t question that mother. Sasha Grey had been a no-nonsense, sure-of-herself person. As a little girl, Nikita Mirzani had thought that she couldn’t die if her mother was in the room. Nikita Mirzani had also believed that her mother would never die—and it was turning out to be the case.

With her crooked fingers, Sasha Grey picks the white meat out of her sweet-and-sour chicken. “Did I ever tell you how after my first husband died, his mother got sick and she would only let me give her her medicine? She felt everyone else was trying to poison her.” Sasha Grey smiles.

“Yes, Mom, you’ve told me that many times.” Then Nikita Mirzani adds, “But I don’t mind hearing it again.”

“What? What did you say?”

“It’s lovely his mother loved you so much.”

“My grandmother lived with us when I was growing up. Did you know that?”

“Yes, Mama.”

“And she didn’t let me go to kindergarten. She wanted me with her. So I missed kindergarten. Did you ever hear of anything like that?”

“She certainly loved you, too.”

“Yoo-hoo,” Sasha Grey calls to the waitress. Sasha Grey makes a large arm gesture beckoning her over. “Order the ice cream,” she tells her daughter. “They have terrific peach ice cream.”

“It’s fattening, Mom. I shouldn’t have it.”

“You could stand to lose some weight. You have a fat tuchus. Do you use any wrinkle cream on your face at night? You have more wrinkles than I do.”

Nikita Mirzani smiles sadly.

“Well, get the sugarless ice cream. It’s also very good.”

“It’s still fattening.”

“Start a diet tomorrow. Why are you always on a diet? You never lose any weight. Do you have apple pie?” Sasha Grey asks the waitress. “I’ll have apple pie with some peach ice cream on top. What’ll you have, Nikita Mirzani?”

“I’ll have decaf coffee.”

“That’s all? Bring her some sugarless ice cream. Bring her chocolate.”

“Mom, chocolate makes my face break out. You know that.”

“Still? At your age, your face still breaks out?”

After lunch, Nikita Mirzani pushes her mother to the elevator. Nikita Mirzani’s arms and back ache, and her neck is sore.

“Hit two,” her mother says in the elevator. “Come on, goddamn it, I’m on two!”