Whenever my mother came to visit me in Arizona, I knew something unusual would happen. On one particular occasion, Mary drove over with her friend Bernie. Bernie was actually normal. She had normal hair, normal weight, and a normal personality. It was shocking how normal she was.
Anyway, once I got over asking myself what Bernie was doing with my mother for a friend, I decided to let it go and just have a normal conversation with her. Bernie was easy to talk to. She wanted to know how Boots was doing. I smiled and informed her that I didn’t know who she was talking about. “Boots,” she insisted.
Boots, you know
“No, I don’t,” I replied.
Finally, in exasperation, she said,
Everyone called your Aunt Marty ‘Boots’.
She said it like I was some kind of very slow individual who had happened to wander into her conversation.
You know they called her Boots!
Well, no, I didn’t know they called her Boots. In fact, I had never heard of Aunt Marty being called anything but Aunt Marty. Unfortunately, Mary had created a fabulous story about a pair of cowboy boots supposedly purchased for Aunt Marty at age four. This gift made such an impression that it followed her throughout the rest of her life as a special family nickname.
Never mind that Lindy and I had never heard this story before. Never mind that I was not prepared to handle Mary’s friend and her version of the truth. Mary lived in such a Far From Normal world and it never occurred to her to share her made-up world with others. She was The Three Faces of Eve way before Eve, and she was all the personalities of Sybil way before there was a Sybil. Boots was just one more step over to the Wild Side with Mary.