My mom used to talk about the gutters like other parents talked about soccer camp, or family vacation. She'd start out of the blue, on the way to school, or the grocery. Sometimes she'd turn a conversation about anything else into one about the gutters. She never talked about them when anyone else was around - just her and I in the car.
"That's what happens to people who don't try, Bryan. They end up in the gutter. With all the trash and filth." Sometimes she'd point to a man or a woman who was holding up a cardboard sign at a four way intersection. “Think they tried?” she'd ask me. When I was little, I'd just shake my head silently. Other kids were probably afraid of clowns or sharks or something. I was afraid of ending up on the streets.
"Know what happens when you tell your son he's going to end up in the gutter?" I want to shout at her, back through the nightmare of the intervening years. “That's where he fucking goes, you stupid bitch. Awesome parenting.”
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