My first stepmother was crazy. I say this with through a smile and a grimace, as there is a dichotomy in the practice of crazy. Crazy can really fuck you up and crazy is what makes life worth living. Mel practiced crazy in both realms, fully.
Mel always had an amazingly fast car and she loved to show off her skills. She loved to pull up along side muscle cars at red lights and, through the unspoken language of the revved up engine, challenge them to a race. Few had faster machines or lived in a crazier mindset, so I never saw her lose a challenge. Each contest was met with a car full of kids goading, “Come on Mel, you can do it!” and each victory celebrated with kids bouncing around the backseat, screaming in triumph. The good part of crazy was fun and exciting.
In the mornings Mel would drop me off at school. On occasion, when I felt like she was in the right mood, I would jump out of the car and spur her on with, “Burn rubber Mel!” If the time was right and no cops were in sight, Mel would gladly use the opportunity to turn heads. It didn’t matter that her audience was a band of elementary school kids, they were actually easy to impress. Mel would flash her wicked smile, rev the car into a high frenzy and release the clutch, producing a high plume of white smoke all the way up the street. The resultant fishtail left a thick layer of S-shaped black rubber on the asphalt and a mob of cheering kids on the sidewalk. My status skyrocketed as the crowd gathered and inquired through wide eyes, “Is that your mom?” “Stepmom,” I’d answer coolly, gather my lunchbox and walk to class.