With Mother’s Day Approaching…

by

Let’s Talk About You and Your Mother
April 25, 2006

I’d like a word with you about your mother, and I want you to read this column all the way to the end, otherwise I will slap you so hard your head will spin.

I realize that Mother’s Day is a fake holiday perpetuated by the greeting card industry and the florists, but it’s here to stay, so make the best of it. The president is a fake, too, but we still pay our taxes. And it’s time you did something nice for your mother.

I bring this up well in advance of Mother’s Day so you can plan a little bit and not roll out of the sack on SUNDAY, MAY 14, and fritter away the morning and then dash over to Mom’s and on the way pick up a cheap box of chocolate-covered cherries at the gas station, or a gallon of windshield cleaner, or whatever you were planning to give her.

Cheap chocolates are not appropriate for your mother, nor is a bouquet of daisies marked down 50 percent at the convenience store. What you owe your mother is a sonnet. A fourteen-line poem, in iambic pentameter, rhymed, just like Shakespeare’s “When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes, I all alone beweep my outcaste state.” Look it up. You can do it, if you try.

Your mother loves you, she has loved you from Day 1, she loves you on your good days and your bad. She was on her way to Broadway and Hollywood was taking a look at her when your father got her in a family way and she put glamour and fame behind her and had you instead. Think about it. All that pain, and then out you came, not the high point of her day, believe me.

She changed your poopy diaper when the stench was such as to make strong men dizzy. And when you hopped up and ran off, leaving a brown trail behind you, she mopped that up, too. At a certain age, you put everything into your mouth – dirt, coins, small toys, cufflinks – and when she stuck a finger down your throat, you refused to vomit. Nothing would come up. All she could do was pour Listerine in you and hope for the best. But if she tried to coax you to eat green leafy material, then you would throw up quarts of stuff. And she’d clean it up and take you in her arms and comfort you although your breath was rancid.

You were not a bright child. I realize that you think you were in the accelerated group, and that was your mother’s doing. Her great accomplishment was to protect you from the knowledge of your own ordinariness. The rest of us knew. You didn’t. Nor did you realize the extent of your bed-wetting. Three a.m., you sat in a stupor, while Mom changed your urine-soaked sheets, tucked you in, and sang you to sleep with “If Ever I Would Leave You” from “Camelot.”

She loved you through the dark valley of your adolescence, when you were as charming as barbed wire. You surrounded yourself with sullen friends who struck your mother as incipient criminals. Her beloved child, her darling, her shining star, running with teenage jihadists, but she bit her tongue and served them pizza and sloppy joes, ignoring the explosives taped to their chests.

When you were 17, when other adults found you unbearable and even your own aunts and uncles looked at you and saw the decline of American civilization and the coming of a dark age of arrogant narcissism unprecedented in world history, your mother still loved you with all her heart. She loves you still today, despite all the wrong choices you’ve made. Don’t get me started. Go write your mother a sonnet.

It costs you nothing except some time and effort. Do not buy her chocolate. She doesn’t care for it. She only pretended to, for your sake. Do not take her out to dinner. She has eaten plenty of dinners with you and one more isn’t going to be that thrilling. She might prefer to snuggle up in a chair all by herself and watch “Singin’ in the Rain” and have a stiff drink. (You do know your mother drinks, don’t you? Ever wonder why?)

Get out a sheet of paper and a pencil. Here’s an idea for a first line: “When I was disgraceful and a complete outcaste.” You take it from there.

© 2006 by Garrison Keillor.

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33 Responses to “With Mother’s Day Approaching…”

  1. Joe Longhorn Says:

    The president is a fake, too, but we still pay our taxes.

    Boo. Al. Boo.

    I know you didn’t write it, but boo anyway.

    A better line to illustrate his point would have been “This author is a hack, but you’re still reading the article.”

  2. Terry Austin Says:

    Nor did you realize the extent of your bed-wetting. Three a.m., you sat in a stupor, while Mom changed your urine-soaked sheets, tucked you in, and sang you to sleep with “If Ever I Would Leave You” from “Camelot.”

    I’m offended, too.

    On behalf of (former? We’re not telling!) bed-wetters everywhere, I must protest the inclusion of these sentences as well. Poor form.

    In fact, Al, maybe you should just take down the entire article…

    (end sarcasm)

  3. juvenal_urbino Says:

    A better line to illustrate his point would have been “This author is a hack, but you’re still reading the article.”

    Good grief, Joe. You people really are as humorless as prison guards where this president is concerned, aren’t you? Out of all the targets of witticisms in that little essay — the reader, the reader’s mother, bedwetters — you single out the most powerful man in the world as the one who has been victimized and needs protecting.

    Does he really need that much . . . well, mothering? Cripes. Surely he’s a big boy by now.

  4. Whitney Says:

    I don’t think Joe thinks the president needs protecting. But the comment was out of place and the analogy poor. Joe’s point was there were a lot of funnier analogies but this guy had to take his moment to poke at the president in an article otherwise completely unrelated to anything of the like.

    Also, I never think of the president when I pay taxes. I actually think of the democrats when I pay taxes and then I think of how many people I’m paying for that are just too lazy to get off their duffs and pay their own way in life…but that’s neither here nor there! 🙂

    And for the record, and because I’m extremely biased and prejudiced, Joe has the best sense of humor on this board (I’ve even heard him tell Bush jokes), sometimes you guys just don’t get it. That’s sad, because he’s a really funny guy and half of what he says is tongue-in-cheek, which you all take so seriously. So, it’s ironic that you’re calling him humorless. (Although, I do think you two–Terry & JU–are really funny boys.)

    And maybe I am humorless, because I know this article was supposed to be funny/satirical, but I just thought it was kind of dumb. Then again, most of my humorous moments occur in my own head, in my own thoughts, so I just walk around laughing all the time and people think I’m crazy. Crazy…I was crazy once…they put me in a rubber room….

  5. Whitney Says:

    Al, you’re funny, too. Didn’t want to leave you out. I like to hear you guys revert to your childhood name calling and picking. It’s thoroughly entertaining.

  6. Joe Longhorn Says:

    Whit nailed it in her first paragraph. It was out of place. This guy just couldn’t resist the temptation to swipe at the president. A rather lame swipe at that.

  7. Al Sturgeon Says:

    Just for the record, I don’t think the President is a fake. Instead… No, I’ll just leave it at that. (Those “self-control” therapy sessions are really paying off!)

    Also just for the record, Terry is a bed-wetter. At least he was.
    🙂

    And more importantly, my mom is not receiving a sonnet. I just enjoy reading (and listening to) Garrison Keillor when I take the time to do so.

    (Oh, and would all the attorneys that read this blog please refrain from informing me of copyright infringement laws in regard to posting articles like this? I supplied the link and listed the copyright, and I justify my motive in that I’m advertising for him as part of the Prairie Home team.)

  8. Al Sturgeon Says:

    Maybe Joe & Whitney aren’t aware, but taking a swipe at the President is never “out of place” in a Keillor article. His readers expect them.

  9. Whitney Says:

    Well, that’s good to know then. I don’t even know who this guy is, but at least now when I see his byline I won’t be tempted.

    I don’t subject myself, if I can help it, to the fun-poking w/ an agenda type of media, either conservative or liberal. I think most of it on both sides is pretty much crap. I just read DH to get an unbiased, objective opinion!!! HA HAHAHAAAAHAAAHA HA

    I love you guys.

    Plug: If anyone wants a good, clean, funny book, try “Marley & Me.” Sandi referenced it once. It has a couple political barbs, but overall it is one of the best books I’ve read in a long, long time. I laughed so hard I cried a couple of times. Mikey, have you read this one yet?

  10. Joe Longhorn Says:

    OK, Al. I’ll buy that. But it was still lame.

  11. Al Sturgeon Says:

    I suspected you’d think so.
    🙂

    And I’m shocked that you’ve kept Lake Wobegon from your wife all these years!!

  12. Terry Austin Says:

    Also just for the record, Terry is a bed-wetter. At least he was.

    Was. Is. Forever shall be.

    It’s a gift, really. Like motherhood itself. Or puppies. Or gentle spring rains.

    (Oops. Must change pants. Stupid gentle spring rains…)

  13. Capt MidKnight Says:

    Even though I probably fall more in Joe’s area when it comes to overall philosophy (“You can take the boy out of the country, but you can never completely take the …” you know the rest) I still love a lot of Keillor’s work. I like “Prairie Home Companion” but some of his written stuff get a little too dark for me. Probably his Norwegian roots.

    I didn’t mind his dig at the president – in fact I expected it. He even gigs liberals sometimes. I even like his religious humor. He’s not for everybody, but he has moved me to tears – both of laughter and nostalgia – on many occasions, and you can’t ask much more than that from contemporary authors.

    My mother deserves a sonnet for sure, but she won’t get one, I’m sorry to say. Too mushy for either of us. Just like all of you, I know I’ve got the best one in the world.

    I guess we’re through with contraception and vegetarians Huh?

    PS
    Whitney,
    I’ve seen “Marley and Me” at the book store and heard an interview with the author and wanted to get the book, but we just had to have our Cocker Spaniel put down after 15 years, so I don’t think my wife could take it just now. I may go ahead and get in anyway and not show it to her for a while. Sounds like a great story.

  14. Terry Austin Says:

    I guess we’re through with contraception and vegetarians Huh?

    Which came first: the egg or the eggplant?

    Al, you’re funny, too. Didn’t want to leave you out. I like to hear you guys revert to your childhood name calling and picking. It’s thoroughly entertaining.

    Whitney, I’ll be glad to call you some names if it will make you feel like part of the ol’ Paragould gang. 😉

    For starters, you’re a zhepix. I don’t know what that is, but it’s the word verification for this post.

  15. Capt MidKnight Says:

    I can’t believe I forgot to comment on one of the most pressing subjects of our time – I mean, of course, the bedwetting issue.

    Being, I assume, the “Elder Statesman” of the group, I may have a little different viewpoint, having been there myself as a child, lived through the potty training of three children, and now approaching that time of life where the highpoint of the day may be “Depends” and “Viagra” commercials.

    My philosophy is “Don’t ask.” Don’t tell.”

  16. Al Sturgeon Says:

    Good philosophy. One, of course, Terry does not share.

    Of course Terry is an exgkg.

  17. Whitney Says:

    Thanks for including me.

    Terry is a mqweepy.
    Mc-Wee-Pee. That means he peed in his pants, often at McDonalds.
    That really is my WV.

    I have a new game: Word Verification Balderdash.

  18. Terry Austin Says:

    Deriwbie.

  19. Terry Austin Says:

    Mc-Wee-Pee. That means he peed in his pants, often at McDonalds.

    Thanks for taking the high road on that one. Lots of low-road options there…

  20. Sandi Says:

    Okay, to be humorless for a moment, because I can’t let that “get off their duff” comment go by: welfare is pretty much over. Your tax dollars go to pay for the war in Iraq moreso than nonexistant welfare queens and their nonexistant Cadillacs. Moreover, my understanding is that the vast majority of people who were on welfare even when there was no time limit were on it temporarily after losing a job or some such thing rather than wanting to live off of others’ largesse. There were people who abused it, certainly, but they were the exceptions. Try David Shipler’s book The Working Poor for a balanced presentation (i.e., he calls people on their stupid decisions but also takes into account structural and environmental factors that influenced or coerced those decisions) of issues relating to poor people.

    Moving right along … Garrison Keillor writes for Salon sometimes, and I have always found his stuff kind of irrelevant. Can’t relate to it at all. And on occasion, sexist. (You get about one and a half of those with me and then I don’t like you anymore).

    I promise to post some more controversial stuff next week. It’s no fun unless there’s an argument, is it?

  21. Capt MidKnight Says:

    Can anybody explain to me what good the sorry little varification word game does anyway.
    Are we protecting some deep dark secerets here?

    WOGMYV

  22. juvenal_urbino Says:

    I used to listen to PHC a lot, Cap’n. But the last few years it’s gotten to be a little too Lawrence Welk for my tastes. Waaaaaay too much of Garrison singing or co-singing sappy old love songs or hymns.

    I do like his religious humor, though. He did a bit years ago that was partly about religion and partly about his mother. It was hilarious — and could easily have been about the CsofC.

    I guess we’re through with contraception and vegetarians Huh?

    Veal for everybody!

    (My WV was useless as an epithet.)

  23. juvenal_urbino Says:

    Are we protecting some deep dark secerets here?

    It’s a way of preventing Denial of Service (DoS) attacks, you sfodi.

  24. juvenal_urbino Says:

    And spamming.

  25. Capt MidKnight Says:

    Sandi said…
    “Moving right along … Garrison Keillor writes for Salon sometimes, and I have always found his stuff kind of irrelevant. Can’t relate to it at all. And on occasion, sexist. (You get about one and a half of those with me and then I don’t like you anymore).”

    Keillor is certainly an acquired taste, and his brand of humor falls flat for some people. My wife can’t stand him, but more so because he takes for ever when he starts telling stories, and she’s not willing to invest 7 or 8 minutes waiting for the punch line. A lot of his stuff is nostalgia which is usually lost on younger crowds.

    Sandi, Keep up the agitation. You’re right. It’s no fun if everybody agrees.

    PS Somebody has to explain to my old brain how to do the html tags so that I can do italics. I’ve tried it a couple of time, but I’m doing something wrong.

    IXQFWG

  26. Whitney Says:

    do this, without the spaces:

    < i > text < / i >
    and it looks like this:

    text

  27. Terry Austin Says:

    And to make bold letters, just hit the appropriate keyboard keys really hard.

  28. Capt MidKnight Says:

    Keillor was actually raised in a very fundamentalist home. Some northern sect that does share a lot of beliefs and hymns with older (early 20th century) CofC.

    I do agree that he seems to be singing more (and I’m enjoying it less) lately. Maybe he’s just at that time of life where he doesn’t care what people think. It’s his show, after all

    I love his two clergymen in Lake Woebegon, Pastor David Inquivest of the Lutheran Church and Father Emil of Our Lady of Perpetual Responsibility. He once told of Pastor Inquivest hitting his thumb while hanging a picture and said that, unfortunately, even though it hurt like the devil, being a pastor, all the best and most satisfying exclamations were not available to him. Maybe it’s just me, but that got a chuckle.

    RSSSWI

  29. Capt MidKnight Says:

    Shazam

    I guess I finally said the magic word.
    Thanks Whitney

    “Terry Austin said…
    And to make bold letters, just hit the appropriate keyboard keys really hard. “

    Come on now. You know it’s not nice to tease an old person.

  30. Terry Austin Says:

    Sorry, Cap’n.

    Sometimes I can be a real xiylp.

  31. juvenal_urbino Says:

    Some northern sect that does share a lot of beliefs and hymns with older (early 20th century) CofC.

    The Plymouth Brethren, which he generally refers to as the “Sanctified Brethren.”

  32. juvenal_urbino Says:

    I particularly liked Keillor’s description of them as being given to “a level of pissery and bs-ification that one normally experiences only in an election year.” Pissery and bs-ification: that hits the CsofC right on the head.

  33. Capt MidKnight Says:

    juvenal_urbino said…
    I particularly liked Keillor’s description of them as being given to “a level of pissery and bs-ification that one normally experiences only in an election year.” Pissery and bs-ification: that hits the CsofC right on the head.

    I’m happy to say that you and I aren’t hanging out with the same CofC folks.

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