Category Archives: Shit My Mom Does

A Taste Of Things To Come

Just to whet everyone’s appetite for more of my Mom Stories, I thought it might be fun (or slightly evil in a teasing, tempting way) to name off the next six titles I’m working on. Then I’ll come back here and make them into live links as I post them. So, without further ado, here are some future Mom titles:

Mom vs. The Backrest

Mom vs. The Water Beetle

Mom vs. Days Of The Week

Mom vs. Trader Joe’s

Mom vs. The Parked Car

Mom vs. The Postwoman

I hope they will all bring you much joy and laughter in reading them. At least as much to equal or exceed the amount of embarrassment and face-palming I experienced when they happened.

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Mom vs. Def Leppard

My mom talks about me a lot and to pretty much anyone who will listen. It can be nice at times, embarrassing at others. She almost always mentions that I’m a musician. Her hairdresser, the woman at the dry cleaners, the clerk at 7-11 where she buys her lottery tickets, the mailman, bank tellers, and clergy are among the many who know I’m in a band due to the fact that my mom tends to go on about it. As things go, that’s actually good. Promotion!

On one of her trips back home to London, she was telling the flight attendant on her Virgin Atlantic flight about me. Here’s where it gets interesting. Now, my mom would fly business class on the old company’s dime. She had legitimate business to do and as the president of that company always flew first class, he did not balk at a business class ticket for her. Virgin Atlantic, however, does not have first class. They have Upper Class. Business Class pricing with better-than-first-class amenities. Go mom!

So on this one particular flight, she noticed several guys who looked a bit . . . ragged. Torn jeans, etc.. Just not the normal Upper Class attire she was accustomed to, whatever that may have been. Back then (early 1990s), Virgin used to pass around a guest book for all the Upper Class passengers to sign on each flight. When the book got to her, the raggedy guys had already signed. Next to his signature, one of them had written “We Are Def Leppard!” This was totally lost on my mom. No idea. Clueless. But she decided to go talk to them.

“Are you guys in a band?” Yes. “Oh, do you have any records out?” Yes. You can probably find one at HMV. Well, she felt so bad for them, in their raggedy clothes, that she was certainly going to go buy one of their records to help them out. Which she eventually did. (And which is when things dawned on her… but I’m getting ahead of myself.)

What she did not do, however, is mention that her son is in a band. That’s right. Tell your hairdresser, tell the bank teller, let the flight attendant know, because all of these people would be so incredibly helpful in furthering my musical career, but do not tell DEF FUCKING LEPPARD! Seriously? SERIOUSLY?

I learned of all this via a phone call from her hotel room after she had been to HMV and figured out they MIGHT be slightly famous. (Apparently, the fact that they were flying in UPPER CLASS did not impact her assessment of things.)

She did ask me one thing. “Now, dear, I know that it was the fashion several years ago to wear an eye patch even if your eye is good, but that one boy, well . . . is it the fashion to pretend you only have one arm?”

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Mom vs. Not-Andre

For decades, my mom has had a good friend whose name is Marjorie. “Margie” is what everyone calls her. Margie married a Frenchman named Andre. As he aged, he became slightly more round (as most of us do), and his hair and beard went bright white. Picture that . . . okay, good. Now understand this: my mom tends to notice things and act quickly before taking in the whole situation. Andre, or, to be specific, a gentleman who is not Andre, is a perfect example. You see, there is at least one other gentleman in town who looks fairly similar to Andre. At least from the corner of your eye. When you look straight at him, it’s completely obvious that he is not Andre. But by the time my mom gets a chance to look straight at him, it’s already far too late.

This is because as soon as she sees him out the corner of her eye, typically across the street or outside the window of a shop she happens to be in, my mom immediately begins to wave at him: “There’s Andre! Hi, Andre!” Then comes the actual observation, followed by a muted, “Oh, that’s not Andre,” and a called out, “Sorry! Thought you were someone else!”

It wouldn’t be so bad if Not-Andre was not always with a woman I presume to be his wife.

Yeah. Not good. This woman stares daggers back at my mom every time. Gee, I wonder why. (For the record, she looks nothing like Margie, so it begs the question why my mom didn’t wonder why “Andre” was out with some other woman.)

The last time I recall this happening, Not-Andre and his wife were passing outside the window of the restaurant where my mom, my wife, and I were having lunch. Same routine: as she notices, the arm begins to go up, her face brightens, and between the words “oh” and “look” she has already begun to wave. “There’s Andre!” Then she quickly averts her eyes, brings her arm down, pulls in her shoulders, and makes herself smaller. “Oh, that’s not Andre.” Then she sort of waves again through the window and mouthes “sorry!”

This time, we could see the fury on his wife’s face as she lightly struck him on the shoulder and I could clearly read her lips. “Who is that woman? How do you know her? What is going on?” He shrunk back from her blows and the verbal barrage, shrugging, hands raised, palms up–I could not see his lips, but his body language was obvious. He had no idea in the world who my mom is, nor why she kept waving at him. Poor Not-Andre. Getting accused of an affair and not actually getting the benefits of one.

It’s over now, though. The real Andre passed away last year. Margie is dealing with the loss as best she can. My mom is there for her, so that’s a plus.

I do hope, though, that Not-Andre was able to salvage his marriage.

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Mom vs. The Remote Control

Mentally speaking, my mom lives in a world apart from the one where we are physically present. Technical things are a mystery to her. Take, for instance, that most common and omnipresent of objects in the Western household, the remote control. After several years of owning a particular TV, my mom’s remote control began having issues. Based on previous stories, one might be tempted to think a hot caffeinated beverage might be involved. Not this time, at least.

Eventually, the remote control gave up the ghost and stopped working altogether.

I was at her place the day she had bought a new universal remote from Radio Shack. She opened it up and asked me to set it up for her. I read the instructions and then asked her for batteries.

“Batteries? Why would you need batteries?”

“Because that’s how they work, mom. The batteries supply the power to send the signal… Mom? Did you try replacing the batteries in the old remote before you got this one?”

“That one doesn’t take batteries.”

“No, mom, I’m positive it does. How else would it work?”

“I thought they worked by magic.”

(Arthur C. Clarke had not yet died when this happened. His adage was proven right within his own lifetime.)

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Mom vs. Benneton

Several years back, there used to be a Benetton store in La Jolla. I don’t even know if the chain is still in business anymore, but while there were some here in the US at that time, they were damn near ubiquitous in London. I think there was one every 200 feet going down Oxford Street between Regent’s Road and Charing Cross Road. At least it felt that way. Back then, my mom and her husband used to go to London almost every year for 2-3 weeks. She’d visit her sister now and then, but mostly it was to re-absorb the culture of their youth. I mean, let’s admit it, SoCal has a lot of things to offer. Centuries of culture ain’t one of ’em.

On one particular sojourn, they took a side trip west of the London area to a place called Marlborough. It’s a bit south of Oxford, about the same distance west. It’s a relatively small town, or so my mom tells me. Close as it seems to London on the map, the accent is very different there. To the point where my mom sometimes had a hard time understanding what the locals were saying. But I digress.

Now, a very long time ago, my mom got the photography bug. I don’t know if my dad had anything to do with it, but they actually had a full darkroom setup in the garage for many years. Plus silkscreening equipment, etc.. So my mom always used to bring her trusty Nikon. This was before digital cameras became terribly popular, so she was using film. When she returned home and had the shots developed, she was so happy to show me a photo she took in Marlborough of . . . a Benetton store. “But Mom,” I said, “they have them all over in London.”

“I know that, but this one was way out in the country–in Marlborough! I was just so amazed to see one all the way out there.”

“Oh. Um. Okay.”

A few days later we were walking down Prospect in La Jolla, just passing the Benetton store, when my mom said, “Oh! I have that photo with me. Let’s go into the store and show them!”

Call it, oh, a son’s intuition, but I just felt I should not be part of this. “I don’t feel like going in right now, mom. You go ahead. I’ll wait out here.” And so I did a little window shopping at the jewelry store next door.

It wasn’t more than a minute before she walked briskly out of Benetton. “Let’s go,” she said, with a tight expression on her face.

“What happened, mom?”


“No, really, mom, what happened?”

“Nothing. Let’s go.”

“Mom, I can tell something happened. What was it?”

“Well, I walked into Benetton, and went up to the man in there and said, ‘You won’t believe this! I was in England in a little town called Marlborough, way out in the country, and there was a Benetton store there!’

“He didn’t seem very interested. All he said was, ‘Oh, that’s nice.’

“‘But don’t you see,’ I said, ‘there’s the Benetton here, and thousands of miles away in this tiny town in England, there’s another one!’ He still didn’t seem to be interested, so I told him I took a picture of it, and then showed him the photograph.

“He looked a bit confused, but I handed it to him and told him I had this print done for him so he could have it for the store.

“He looked at me and said, ‘Maam, I’m a customer. I don’t work here.'”

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Mom vs. The Adding Machine, or Shit My Mom Does, part one

Okay, so the category name “Shit My Mom Does” is a ripoff. But my mom is 100% original. Here, in all its glory, is my first mom story. But it’s the first of many.

For a few decades now, my mom and I have worked at the same place. Well, that doesn’t express it correctly. We have worked together at two different companies, the current one being an organization I started.


Currently, the company we’re at is small, and there are only three people in our little office area, my mom and I included. At our previous employer, there was a bit more space. I think we totaled seven people. Maybe eight at the height of success. It was located in what used to be private residence cottages. We used both halves of a duplex and a two-room place above the garage in the back–which is where my office was. My mom was downstairs.

So, one day I got a call from her on the intercom asking me to come downstairs and look at her desktop calculator. (It was the kind that had a digital readout but also a roll of paper if she wanted to actually use it as an adding machine. Which is what she called it. But I digress.) She told me that it was all 8’s the whole way across and she couldn’t get it to clear. Never mind that I was in the middle of some database programming. This was obviously an important situation that needed immediate attention. Down the stairs I go, and into the cottage where her office was located.

Sure enough, the calculator is all lit up. She said she has no idea what happened, but it just started doing this a few minutes ago. Totally out of the blue. On closer look, though, it’s not really the number 8 all the way across. The whole display is just lit up. Everything on. I hit a few keys. No change. I switched the power off. No change. Yes, you read that right. It didn’t change. Power off and it was still on. So I picked it up to get a better view of the power switch . . .

And an opaque tan liquid poured out. Coffee. With cream. And, I’m quite sure, sugar.

She had spilled her entire cup of coffee on the calculator, mopped up her desk, cleaned the coffee off the face of the calculator . . . and then called me as if she had no idea what could be wrong with it. To quote from The Mythbusters, “Well, there’s your problem!”

Thus begins the stories of my mom’s bizarre behaviors. Oh, but wait, there’s more. There’s so much more.