The Sneezing Opossum
Astute readers may have noticed that, while I’ve written a lot about my father, I seldom reference my mother, other than her tendency to cry when people tell her they’ve read my column.
That’s because there are only two kinds of stories about my mother. One is the mushy, decidedly unfunny kind, like spending her peak years feeding me, clothing me, washing my beshitten underwear, and making at least half-hearted attempts to keep me from sticking a fork in the toaster.
The other kind are stories that would get me in trouble if I shared them publicly, like the time she called my brother a “son of a bitch” (true) or her torrid 1970s affair with singer Tom Jones (alleged).
Astute readers will also note that it’s currently much closer to Thanksgiving than Mother’s Day. As I’ve previously suggested in my column: Screw topicality. Besides, maybe you’re reading this on my future blog in May 2020, in which case: Hi, Mom!
So, here are the stories I can share about my mom, with minimal embellishment, because I have Fourth of July celebrations to prepare.
Story #1: It will surprise no one that I was often bullied in school, including one orange-skinned kid who wanted to grab my pussy. Not sure what became of him, but no doubt he’s either selling used cars or in prison.
There was another kid who made the mistake of tormenting me one day on the way home from school. During the course of the scuffle, he tore my jacket, which is unacceptable unless you’re a Civil War doctor or Justin Timberlake during a wardrobe malfunction.
When I reached the sanctuary of home, Mom met me at the door and asked who my “new friend” was. I told her the kid had ripped my jacket, because this was before the phrase “snitches get stitches” had gained currency.
Moments later, my mom was chasing that bully down the street with a spatula. I’m not sure what she planned to do with it, but the kid was lucky he ran, because I’m sure she hadn’t warmed it up before going all Gordon Ramsay on his ass.
Obviously, having your mom fight your fights is a violation of the Bully Code, which dictates that you suck it up, even if the kid took your lunch money, your girlfriend, and your Republican presidential nomination.
But I heard from that kid only one other time, when he ribbed me for “having your mommy come after me.”
“Yeah, and you ran, too,” I said. I honestly don’t recall his response, but I’m sure it wasn’t something I could repeat to Mom verbatim.
Story #2: I really liked the Spider-Man rain parka Mom bought for me. It’s remarkable that she bought it, considering her reaction when I told her I wanted to wear it to school: “You sure about this?”
To anyone else, that would’ve been a red flag. This was coming from a woman who regularly dressed me in shirts that would coordinate well with bowling shoes that had been barfed on by a circus clown. (I don’t blame Mom for that. It was the ’70s, and everyone wanted to look like the doors on Let’s Make a Deal.)
I assured Mom that my Spider-Man parka was the coolest thing since leisure suits. Upon arriving at school, however, I was politely informed that I looked like a bright red penis in a rubber dress.
“Mom made me wear it,” I explained. Throwing my mom under the bus was easy to do, since the bus driver was convulsing with too much laughter to notice.
As I left school that sunny afternoon, my Spider-Man parka compacted into my lunch box, I got in the car, where my mom sat behind the wheel, eager to drop a line that she’d been holding in for the last seven and a half hours: “The kids laughed at you, didn’t they?”
And we drove away, my mother’s youngest son in the passenger seat, a wiser but no less dorky young man.
Story #3: I can’t say I got a lot of memorable advice from my parents, though I do recall my father telling me, “When it’s busy at the mall, you’ll always find plenty of empty parking spots at Sears.”
The closest thing to advice from my mother came when my sister asked if we had any toilet paper. “Oh, sure, we never run out of toilet paper. Not since that one year...”
No doubt she was talking about the great Toilet Paper Famine of 1973. But you know what? To this day, I never run out of ass wipes.
Admittedly, this isn’t much of a story, but it’s the greatest quote involving clean anuses since Churchill uttered his famous line, “If you’re going through hell, keep going. And pick up some Charmin while you’re there.”