Sunday, May 08, 2005

Happy Mootherrr's Day

Like it? 
This may be surprising to some of you who've written me nasty letters describing my questionable lineage, but I have a mother. Honest!

With every year, it becomes increasingly difficult to find something to buy Mom for Mother's Day. I can't get Mom chocolates -- I eat them. Tickets to see Englebert Humperdinck? His looks are so gone. And what about that drawer full of expired homemade coupons for "1 Free Hug"? Hmm? What about those?

Luckily, I write for a newspaper, which gives me a convenient and immediate source of power. Using it, I can send anybody almost any message I choose. I LIKE PICKLES! You know why I wrote that? Because I could.

So, Mom, I'm abusing my status as a newspaper columnist to send you a personal message. As my Mother's Day gift, I'll tell this little corner of the world what a great parent you've been. Don't worry. There will also be flowers.

M is for the many things she gave me. I'm thinking specifically of when I was young boy, and she gave me this great Transformers action figure for Christmas.

Yes, and she also gave me the gift of life. Aces job, Mom!

Scorponok was his name -- the Transformers action figure, I mean. There were two kinds of Transformers: the good Autobots and the evil Decepticons. Scorponok was evil. He was a giant robot with a detachable head that itself turned into a tiny robot. The decapitated body became a Decepticon base or a humongous robotic scorpion. One of the best Christmas presents ever.

She also gave me financial stability while I went to college. I appreciated that.

God, I miss Scorponok, now that I think about it. I don't have that robot anymore. No idea where it is. Probably gave it away. Can you believe it? I could've sold that thing on eBay to some collector. There's 50 bucks easy. Maybe less because I threw away the original box. What was I doing?

Some other things my mother gave me that I'm grateful for: moral support, unconditional love, and so on and so forth. So before I forget, here's a tip for any kids reading this: Don't be like me. Never throw away the original box for your toys. You'll thank me later.

O is for the ovaries from which sprang the egg that provided half my genes. Again, that was just great. Thanks.

Pretending I never wrote the above paragraph, O could also be for the opinions she let me express when I was growing up. There was a time, in the mid-1980s, that I actually thought I looked cool with spiked hair. Mom no doubt swallowed any number of giggles, but she quietly bought the quarts of Dippity-Doo necessary to make my thick hair accomplish something almost like verticality.

See, Mom didn't pressure me. She let me discover on my own that my face is too damn round for me to pull off spikes with any kind of authority. For those three embarrassing months, I am eternally grateful.

T is for the thousands of meals Mom cooked for my family. At three meals a day for the first 18 years of my life, that's 19,710. Because I was a picky eater, I ate an estimated 3,702. Even though it's a staple of the Portuguese diet, I didn't try her purple octopus until I was 25, and even then I didn't like it. And I still won't eat codfish. And I used to hide in the bathroom on kale soup nights, for hours, until she grew tired of waiting and cleared the dishes away.

Still, as a boy I ate enough of her lasagna, chourico and eggs, chicken and carne alentejana to grow (and grow) into the man I am today. The best part is, she used to celebrate Easter by cooking rabbit. I inherited her love of cooking and her sense of irony.

H is for my head, which Mom was forever fixing.

So the story goes, when I was 1 year old, I was riding a Big Wheel in the house and crashed into the TV stand. The TV set fell on my head -- and Mom rushed me to the hospital for a dozen or so stitches.

The next year, I'm 2 and leaning back in chair. You can see where this is going. Mom rushed me to the hospital again, and I ended up with another dozen or so stitches in the back of my skull.

A few years later, for some reason it occurred to me to remove the top drawer and jam my head inside my sister's desk. Under Mom's tender ministrations, I emerged, and didn't crack my head open again -- until another nine years or so, when a glass light fixture fell off the ceiling and crashed onto my face. Mom packed my nose with bloody towels and ice until we reached the hospital, where I had 13 more stitches put in. Long story short, thanks, Mom, for taking the time to drive me to the hospital. It was a nice thing.

E is for the eggs Mom puts in her excellent homemade sweet bread. Every spring, she makes the whole neighborhood smell good.

And R is for the rest, relaxation and recreation that Mom deserves on her special day. Go on -- let her use the remote.

Now put it all together!

Gimme an M! Gimme an O! And then gimme another O! And gimme a THE! And gimme a laughing pirate noise: R-R-R!

Happy Mootherrr's Day!

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