The Weight of a PaperWeight

The weight of a paperweight!


So you know that thing where you always blame one parent……


Seriously,………’s like 99%full proof, and then……………


You recognize your crazy comes from more than one source,……… you’re welcome.



My mom is difficult to describe in a few paragraphs. You’ve read some lovely stories about her, and the truth is that this blog is not really about her or my relationship with her.


My mom is a wonderful, powerful, intelligent, beautiful, complicated, generous, loving woman. She is both my best friend and my toughest mirror. One of my favorite lines that my mom says about herself is, “I’m always certain, and not always right.”


This is very true of my whole family. We speak like we know what the hell we are talking about, but sometimes (very occasionally), we got no freaking clue…..and yet we sound like we are experts! The only reason to share this is that you get a more complete picture of my mold.


So……..rewind back to 1990. My mom and my dad are still married, but the relationship is tough. My dad is spending all his time in Mexico City, my mom is with my brother and me in Los Angeles. My dad’s gun and weapon collection is at its height. There are hundreds of rifles, handguns, shotguns, and the likes stored in our garage inside of huge safes. The garage built-in closets are stuffed with ammunition and paraphernalia!


My brother is going to boarding school in Switzerland as part of an amazing and exclusive program that our prep school offers. The departure point is in New York City. Students were to pack their suitcases (only 2!) and arrive at JFK for departure on the assigned date.


A very traditional Mexican woman, she was nervous and stressed to let her firstborn move to Europe alone. Her sense of tradition was always overcome by her need to transcend her own limitations, and therefore, she helped my brother get ready and planned a trip to New York to see him off.


During their trip to NY, my mom and my brother were walking the shops on 5th Ave. My mom has always loved Lalique and made it a point to at least window-shop when in the city. So, on this shopping trip, a beautiful paperweight caught my mom’s eye. Inside one of the vitrines at  Lalique was an exact replica of a 9 millimeter Beretta. The cut crystal was stunning!!


The handle of the crystal gun was opaque and marked with the hexagonal cut waffle print, signature to the gun maker. The rest of the crystal gun was a high-gloss and flawless in every detail. As my father’s birthday was soon approaching, my mom thought the Lalique gun paperweight would make the perfect gift for my father from both of them.


In the blink of an eye, a shop attendant is at her side, the item is selected, wrapped, and handed back to her in a bag. Fabulous!


The next day, my mom takes my brother to the airport: an emotional, supportive, and loving farewell for this next adventure for her son. Always a pragmatic individual, her flight is leaving JFK just a few hours after my brother’s. Excited and saddened by his departure, she makes her way to her gate.


She looks like a combination of Karen Walker and Sophie’s Choice, sophisticated and beautifully dressed with sadness in her eyes. She places her usual Louis Vuitton travel bag on the XRay belt as she gets to security. Her luxurious coat and Hermes scarf take up another tray. She clip-clops across the machine in her Salvatore Ferragamo heels and waits for her bag to come out the other side of the machine.


The man in front of her reaches in, barely able to get his bag before the conveyor belt stops. Lost in her thoughts, my mom stands waiting for her bag. She’s unaware of the panic in all the TSA agents’ eyes. First, there’s only one agent, then two, then four, then a push of a button.


My mom, her blowout moving in the AC and unaffected by the increasing amount of security, is becoming increasingly impatient. Her bag is cautiously pulled out of the belt, “we need to rescan this one,” the agent proceeds with caution.


My mom nods and returns to her thoughts. By this point, armed security has surrounded the area and it looks like the screening agents are detonating a bomb. The security line is at a standstill.


“Excuse me!” my mom says in her lovely accent while flipping her hair, “is there a problem?!” She had poked her head around the conveyor belt and caught a glimpse of the TSA agents’ screen. There it was: a perfectly shaped Beretta. Every detail coming through on the screen from the textured grip to the serial number on the well.


“Oh my god!! No, you don’t understand, it is a gift!!” my mom clambers. “It is not a gun……well yes it is a gun…….well it’s in the shape of a gun, but it’s not a gun!!” The TSA agents stunned and wide-eyed watching this train wreck unfold.


“So you see my husband likes guns,” armed security raises their weapons, “so I found this weight, how do you say it in English……PAPERWEIGHT!!! YES, It is a paperweight. IT is crystal that has been cut. It’s Lalique, very beautiful!!! REALLY!!”


The TSA agents look at each other disbelievingly. Armed security begins to lower their guns but their fingers are still on the triggers. “So ma’am, you’re saying that this is a replica of a gun made out of what? Exactly?!” an agent finally addresses my mom.


“It is cut crystal. You know, Lalique! The French crystal manufacturer. They are on 5th Ave!” The agents cannot believe the answer they are being given. No one would have believed that the image seen on the screen would be a decorative piece of glass. It looked way too real. So they run the bag again. And again, there on the screen is the image of the gun in perfect detail.


“Ma’am, we are going to open this bag and search it.” Armed security raises their weapons and surrounds my mom. “Yes please, go ahead.”

The agent cautiously pulls back the brass zipper and quickly finds the package. “Ma’am, I need to get inside this package! I may rip the wrapping.”


“Of course, I don’t care about that,” she responds increasingly stressed by the intensity of the situation. You could hear a pin drop as the agent tears the beautiful paper to reveal a navy blue Lalique box. In slow motion, the agent takes the top of the box….everyone except my mother leans in to see!


A perfect cut crystal replica of a Beretta M9 Pistol. Every detail expertly and flawlessly executed. Even the weight felt correct. Absolute disbelief in the agent’s eyes, armed security dropped their weapons and were fawning over the discovered treasure.


Handling the item with great care, they put it in a bin and run it through the Xray machine one last time. One more time, the image reflected on the screen was James Bond’s second favorite gun.


Armed security began to disperse, not completely believing what had just happened. TSA gave my mom back her replica, she put it back in her LV weekender. With grace and elegance, my mom wrapped her Hermes scarf around her neck, grabbed her bag and coat, and clip-clopped away in her high heels towards her gate.


TSA reopened the security checkpoint and began to process passengers again. Getting to her seat at last, she ordered a Mimosa. Giggling with nerves and disbelief, she enjoyed the drink and the thought of herself as Susana: high fashion weapons smuggler!


Your musical note for this story: Gypsy by Fleetwood Mac

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