Tuesday, May 27, 2008

My Mom Is Chuck Norris

My mother is about 4’9”. Most of the women in the family are short. My mother’s stature is such that she just makes other people look bigger when they are around her. I stand next to her in all photos and at major family events. I tower over her like a behemoth.

My mother once rabbit punched a Gold-Medal winning wrestling coach because my brother fractured his elbow during a practice. This muscle bound giant scurried back from the tiny woman as she flurried her tiny fists into his chest. I have not seen fear like that outside of small furry creatures and bachelors trying to escape long-term relationships.

My mother lost the nerves on the right side of her face when she contracted Bels Palsy when pregnant with my younger brother. To this day I tell him he’s the reason Mom can’t smile fully anymore.

When my mother runs, her feet and fists churn at four times the speed of mortal man. However, she only moves at about a ¼ of the distance. We call this the Patsy Shuffle.

My mother became a middle school lunch lady when I was in seventh grade. A bunch of kids starting teasing me. I explained that I don’t pay for the ala carte desserts at the end of the day. Then I walked away smiling, eating a TastyKlair pie. They stopped making fun of me.

My mother would tell stories that would branch off in endless tangents, but would always end up with the one time she served on Jury Duty. For example: “Oh, your son plays baseball? We just went to the Red Sox game with Brian and Todd when we went to visit him in Boston. It was so much fun, Jimmy and I split a hot dog and a beer. Hot dogs! Todd just got a grill for his new apartment, so we gave him all the leftover meat in the freezer. Some chicken patties and a few Omaha Steaks. Omaha Steaks! Brian just drove cross country to California and he was passing through all these crazy cities, and I told him to be careful, because I didn’t want any criminal stealing his car. Steal his car! I was on jury duty once and our case was about this guy who stole his wife’s car.”
It never fails. When she and my aunt would get together, they could actually tag team on topics. It would still always end up at Jury Duty.

I wrote a play for my mother called “At Least We’re Together”. The title comes from an incident when we attempted to go to Busch Gardens in Williamsburg (right near where I was born). As we went into the park, there was a torrential downpour. We ran back to the car. The rain started to subside. We started to head back when it rained again, even harder. We piled in the cars, pissed off and dripping. She turned around from the front seat, goofy smile on her face and said in a high-pitched nasally cadence, “Well, at least we’re together.” This became our battle cry whenever the day was going shitty.

In the play, my mother’s character is an eternal optimist who gets mugged and manages to put a bright spin on everything. My mom doesn’t like it, because in the end, the mom shoots the hell out of the mugger. My dad thinks it’s HILARIOUS.

I asked my mother what she wanted to be when she grew up. If she never had any ambitions beyond just being a mom. She said all she ever wanted to be was a mother and a wife. So she worked really hard at that and making everyone happy.

I almost kicked a feminist grad student in the forehead because she accused women like my mother of not being “real women”. I told her that “real women” can do anything they want, like raise fantastic kids, while “fake girls” like her end up dying alone in their apartments, next to a half-empty wine bottle, being partially devoured by their cats.

My mother does not understand how to work a computer. However, she can videotape any program on any channel with a series of four VCRs she has set up on different televisions in different rooms of the house.

My mother doesn’t go to bed before 1 AM. Instead, she stays up watching the hours of television she has recorded for herself. Inevitably she falls asleep on the couch, in her giant recliner. My father goes to earlier and earlier as he gets older. Eventually, I think their times will meet. Somewhere around age 88 at about 3 PM.

When I was home from college, my mom and I used to amuse ourselves by quizzing each other with 80’s Trivial Pursuit cards. If you got 4 out of the 6, you got to keep the card.

When I was in the school spelling bee, my mother quizzed me on the words every day, for at least two hours. Not out of any sort of fierce drive or forcefulness, but just because I had to go over the words. When I made the finals, she asked me if I wanted to do a couple more words before we left. Those words were valedictorian and asterisk. I spelled it “a-s-t-e-r-i-k”. She said, “No, remember, it’s RISK. RISK. With an S.”

I won the championship that year. The word was “asterisk”.

My father and brother will not ride roller coasters. All through my youth, my mother would ride every single roller coaster with me, screaming bloody murder the entire way.

My mother’s mother died when she was 17. My mother’s father died when I was 5. My mother’s sister died a few years ago. My mother’s ambition in life was to make it to 40.

My mother adopted my aunt’s cat, Finnegan. He’s a nasty, moody, finicky, snot-nosed pussy, who gets overfed and lavished with attention. She refers to him as our third brother. Whenever she sends money for gifts, she explains how she spent an equal amount on the cat.

My mother cannot spell. She tried to write a note to the office explaining that: “Brian would not be able to attend scoccor practise. He has an apointmint at the orthadentist.” I told her to just write: “Brian can’t practice. He has to go to the doctor.” She misspelled practice. And my name.

My mother pronounces words the words “lent” and “phantom” with an “h” after the “t’s.” She claims its because she from Scranton. My father is also from Scranton. So is most of my immediate family. None of them do it.

For mother’s day, I took my mother to see “Election”, because she really likes Reese Witherspoon and Matthew Broderick. At one point in the movie, there’s a tremendous closeup of an actor saying of Reese, “Her pussy gets so wet…” I turned slowly to my mother. She looked over at me. We both sat uncomfortably through the rest of the movie.

I thanked Alexander Payne personally for ruining Mother’s Day.

When I was in college, I had to walk about a half a mile to the post office boxes to get my mail. I told my mom I’d get bummed if there was no mail. For the next three months, I would receive a different card in the mail from my mom. I still have one of the Bill and Opus ones.

As a surprise for their 35th wedding anniversary, and my brother’s grad school graduation, I decided to fly myself and my future wife home to Pennsylvania. I kept telling my mom I wouldn’t be able to afford airfare. She told me that Dad was trying to raise the money for tickets, but he couldn’t afford it. On the day of the party, my brother had to come pick us up from the airport. All afternoon my mother had been calling him, berating him for not helping with the preparations for his own party. She called him three times, getting progressively nastier, because he wouldn’t travel the ¼ mile from his house to their home. Little did she know he was actually an hour away at the Philadelphia Airport, picking up her other son. When we showed up, Todd snuck in the house and said, “Hey, I brought some help.” When she saw me, she couldn’t stop shouting, “Oh, my God. Oh, my God!” I almost killed my mother. Guess the surprise would have been on me.

When I was nineteen, and a summer camp counselor, I heard a rumor that one of the kids had beaned my mom in the head with a soft pretzel. He was eleven. I pulled him aside and told him that if I found out it was true, I was going to jam a fishhook through his intestines and run them up the flag pole. He told me he didn’t do it. I told him that if anyone ever did anything to my mom while he was at that school, I’d find him, because I could get to him and I would bury him alive in a box full of starved rats. He didn’t go on the haunted hike that year. My mother never got accosted that I heard of again. He went on to become one of our best counselors.

To this day, I cannot pronounce the words “berry” or “yesterday” without sounding funny. Nobody else in our family does that.

I dominate bar trivia. Especially anything pop culture. Particularly from the 80’s.

My mother is my date to the Oscars. I promised her after I became a theatre major.

When I smile, it looks kind of wry, because I only turn up one corner of my mouth. It’s because since I was younger, I’ve been imitating my mother’s smile.


Aunt Becky said...

This was a great post. Thank you for making me smile today.

Alex the Odd said...

Gorgeous post Prisco, your mom sounds beyond awesome.

Girl With Curious Hair said...

This was gorgeous. It was great all the way down, but the last paragraph was perfect.

Jumping Fences said...

I love your title, and while all of it is great, I particularly liked the last few lines.

artgyrl said...

Oh wow. Great series of little stories about your mom. I really loved the last lines. :)