Mom, Mitt Romney, and George Takei


I love my sister.

I love my sister, who has a big mouth.

I love my sister, who has a big mouth, and thinks she’s always right, and can’t leave WELL ENOUGH ALONE!

Mom signed up for Facebook … gosh, it’s been years now. And then one night shortly thereafter she called me and said that one of my friends had asked to be her friend and she didn’t like that my friends could just find her on Facebook and that she was quitting, by God, and if I had any sense, I’d do the same!

What you have to realize, here, is that these friends of mine weren’t friending her. They were under the “people you might know” heading.

Nevertheless, I told her that I understood, and that I supported her decision. Because boy howdy, did I support my mother’s decision to get off of Facebook.

UNTIL. Apparently one day not too long ago, Lydia was checking Facebook on Mom’s computer. Mom asked her not to and cited privacy concerns. Lydia explained that it was just letting her see who we were friends with, not that these people were asking to friend Mom.

Thanks, Lydia.

But most of a week passed without incident.

Then one night, at 11:30, on a school night, when I have to be up before most self-respecting roosters, Mom calls.

Mom: ELLE! I can’t BELIEVE Facebook. They stop trying to get me to be friends with your friends, and what happens?? They let MITT ROMNEY try to be my friend!!!


So I made her tell me exactly where on the page she saw Mitt Romney and it turned out to be under “Things You Might Like” or whatever.

So I told her that. I explained to her what a friend request was like. We beat that subject like a dead horse. We’re getting ready to hang up (finally!!) and Mom says, very wistfully, “You mean.. Mitt Romney doesn’t want to be my friend?”

“Rule of thumb, Mom, somebody famous is generally not going to be your friend.”

“Oh…. well…. I’ll… just say goodnight then….”

“Goodnight, Mom”

While we’d been talking, I’d been fooling around on Facebook to have a point of reference. And a friend had posted one of those funny pictures from George Takei and I reposted it. 

And it felt sooo good to get to bed, and my pillows were comfortable and the bed was comfortable and the blankets were soft and warm and it was comfortable to be tired…. which is when you know you’re in trouble.

Because then the phone rang.

“Young lady, what do you MEAN you can’t be friends with someone famous?? You wouldn’t let me be friends with Mitt Romney and there you are making friends with SULU!! And he’s MUCH more groovy than any old politician!!!”


An Elephant Never Forgets


If you ask Mom, she will tell you that she is the soul of constancy. When she has an opinion, she will tell you, she sticks to it come hell or high water.

What any reasonable observer would tell you is that she can’t make up her mind long enough to HAVE an opinion. This is the only woman I know who keeps her rosary in a jewelry box with her tarot cards, liberally sprinkled with white sage and sea salt.

I’m not kidding. She can’t even make up her mind long enough to choose one faith.

Anyway, right now Mom has decided that she’s a Republican. I take comfort in the fact that the election isn’t until November, by which time she will have flip flopped at least once.

I digress. We were on the phone last night and she was whining about the fact that the Republicans haven’t put forth one good candidate. This went on for quite some time, and I just listened.

Mitt Romney sounds ok but she doesn’t trust him. She thinks Ron Paul is just crazy (“Why bother to elect somebody if he’s just going to turn it into an anarchy??”). Newt Gingrich has too much temper to be presidential. And so on.

Finally she’s winding up. “…and I think they should just do like they did with Nixon and put an ad in the paper, because we need some real choices here!”

“Umm… Mom? You remember how that turned out, right?”

There’s a looong silence.

“Do you know, dear, actually Obama isn’t really that bad.”

“I kind of like him.”

“He did try and keep his campaign promises.”


“I’ll have to think about that.”

More silence. It’s good to let things sink in with Mom.

“Besides, young lady, what makes you think I would remember Nixon??”

The Trials of Job


I’ve been feeling a bit dry on posts lately. It’s like I try and try to think of something funny that happened and I just can’t come up with anything. Tonight, however, I was talking to Mom and something came back to me.

To say that my father was antiestablishment is probably the understatement of a lifetime. He was the ultimate rebel without a cause. So he made causes.

He also had an impish sense of mischief and fun. Ninety per cent of the time, this was harmless and entertaining. But it also meant he had great talent and ingenuity in “Sticking it to The Man,” which he did at every opportunity. And if you’re going to do it that often, you have to have a pretty broad definition of who “The Man” is.

For example, he was hospitalized once when I was in middle school. One of the questions on the admittance form asked you to list your faith.

Dad said that he was a worshipper of Mighty Thor.

(I don’t know why, but he seemed to have particular venom toward born again Christians. I suspect that what he was really upset about was that people tend to assume that if you are white and American, you’re also Christian. I say this because he once told me that I could find no better role model than Christ, and on another occasion spoke of Christ as the original hippie. Considering the source, this was pretty high praise. No, I don’t know what he actually believed, because he could dodge questions like nobody’s business.)

I’d like to remind everyone that I grew up in a VERY rural area of western Virginia.

So now the story starts. When we were kids, there was a family of whom we saw quite a bit. Karen was my age and had my interests, Kelly was Lydia’s age and had Lydia’s interests, and Mrs. McGee drove a school bus, just like my Mom did.

They were born again Christian. Pentacostal,  I believe, but I’m not prepared to swear to it.

Anyway, we bumped into each other quite a lot. 4H meetings, Academic Team meets, band recitals, PTA meetings… you name it. I won’t say we were intimate, but we were friendly and cordial and always happy to see each other.


Dad and Mrs. McGee were both obsessive readers. They were the kind of people who carry a paperback with them and read it while waiting for the meeting to start. So one day, Dad was reading a copy of Heinlein’s “Job.” If you’ve read this book, please feel free to skip the following paragraph.

It would be fair to say that “Job” is a modern day/science fiction retelling of the biblical book of the same name. It would also be fair to say that it is a deeply offensive parody, laden with sex, crises of faith, and … alternate cosmology. I love it and highly recommend it – if you aren’t turned off already.

I was about thirteen at the time, and I had read “Job” already (because I’d been forbidden to. Duh.)

We were waiting for a PTA meeting to start and Mrs. McGee looked over and asked Dad what the book was about. Dad told her that it was a retelling of Job from the Bible.

Mrs. McGee decided she just had to read it. Dad loaned it to her.

Now, in order to get from my locker to Mom’s bus, I had to walk right past Mrs. McGee’s bus. I mean I took that sidewalk at a dead sprint every afternoon for six weeks. Difficult to manage carrying a tuba, especially when you stand 4’10” and weigh a wopping 85 lb, but with the proper motivation, it can be done.

Except one day I had a run in with the resident bully. Right in front of Mrs. McGee’s bus. Of course she stepped down as a force of discipline and authority, and then asked me to step into her bus for a second. She handed me the book. I shall never forget her words or the look on her face.

“Please thank your father very much for being so kind as to lend me that book.” Pause. “I shall certainly never forget it.”

Of course, Dad laughed his butt off when he heard that.

Flash forward three years. Our junior year of high school has just ended, and we have been given a list of books that we ought to read before heading off to college. I don’t know who thought that list up, because some of them I’d read in elementary school (“Lord of the Rings”) and some I was forbidden to read until I was thirty two (as Mom screamed when I brought “Clan of the Cave Bear” home from the library). But, barring parental interference, I was bound and determined to read every book on that damn list between this year and next. I got every one except “Clan of the Cave Bear.” Karen was right behind me on this project.

So summer is a pretty busy time in 4H. I’m sitting there waiting for a meeting to start and I’m reading “War and Peace,” which was also on the magic list. Karen’s mother asked me what I was reading and I told her. She sort of paused.

“Is that really appropriate for someone your age?”

“Oh, sure! And it’s really good and it’s all about Russia in the Napoleanic Wars.”

“Oh.” She’s really lost here.

Dad was never one to pass up putting in his two cents’ worth.

“I agree. There’s nothing in it that I would object to my teenaged daughter being exposed to.”

And Mrs. McGee looked from Dad – to “Stranger in a Strange Land” in front of him – to me – to “War and Peace,” all in very slow motion.

Karen never did read “War and Peace,” I hear. But through a serious oversight born of parental ignorance, she did get her hands on “Clan of the Cave Bear.”


Want to know how this came up? Mom had just found out that the entire population of Rockingham County believes that Lydia and I were brought up as godless heathens. She simply could not figure out how this had occured (the fact that it was pretty close to true never crossed her mind. Which is as may be, because that isn’t what people know about. But EVERYONE  knows about Job and Mighty Thor.)



We’ve had a bit of a run of bad luck lately. Harold got in a car wreck two weeks ago, then had a bad fall. We aren’t sure which is the real culprit, but his back has been hurting him ever since. In true “Men Are from Mars” fashion, he went to the doctor on Friday, after much coaxing, and was given x-rays. They got back to us yesterday and said that they thought it was spondylosis or similar.

So I called my mother, who is a nurse, to get some background on this, because by time I got the memo, the doctor’s office was closed, and my beloved had neglected to ask the doctor what I thought were some pretty important questions. Like, “What the hell is spondylosis?”

By the way, I could absolutely be spelling this wrong, so don’t bother to google. I’m going off of Harold’s spelling, which is about as straightforward as his thought process.

Anyway, Mom answered the phone and I thought I had woken her up. I offered to call her back and she wouldn’t hear of it. Then I notice that what I thought was sleep-slurring was… not.

“Mom, are you sure you’re ok?”

“mumble, mumble, Will, mumble, in the fridge.”

“I didn’t quite catch that?”

“Why’d I leave Will and them in the fridge?”


“Once more, please?”

(Now very loudly and carefully). “White wine left Will and them in the fridge.”

Now, most of you know me. I’m officially a lightweight when it comes to drinking. But I really have a much higher tolerance level than Mom. As in, I can actually finish a beer.


“So, you had a glass of wine?”


“Ok, then why were you telling me about Will’s wine?”

“I didn’t have a glass.”


“I had three.”


“Yes, when you mix it with cranberry juice, it really isn’t that bad. It’s so easy to drink. I’m sooo sorry I ever complained about how heavy a drinker you are. Do you mix it with cranberry juice too?”

(For the record, yes, we have had that conversation. No, it’s absolutely unjustified. I might drink once or twice a year. But then, if your last drink was in 1989, I guess that might seem like heavy drinking.)

“No, Mom, I don’t even drink wine that often.”



“Do you mix your liquor with cranberry juice?”

“No, I usually mix it with Coke.”

“Well, you really ought to try the cranberry juice. I mean, soda will CAUSE a bladder infection, but cranberry juice will STOP one.”

This is officially getting out of hand.

“Hey, since we’re on the medical topic, I had a question to ask you. What’s spondylosis?”


“No, Mom. Spondylosis.”

“Oh. What’s Spinosaurus?”

Ok, back up. You saw two kids through kindergarten and went through dino craze with both of them, and you’re unsure of what Spinosaurus is?

“It’s a dinosaur.”

“What kind?”

“Kind of like a T Rex, except with spines.”

“Oh. Well, that makes sense.”

“Mom, what’s spondylosis?”

“Well, you’re the one who had six years of Latin, what do you think?!”



So, Harold is a video game NUT.

I mean, I enjoy a good video game. But if you told me I could never touch the Xbox again, I believe I’d miss streaming Netflix before I would gaming.

He has been devoting every spare second lately to Skyrim (which, for the uninitiated, just came out last week). I found other things to do long ago. Like, last week.

So he’s pounding something into Oblivion (da dum ching), and I was getting zip in the way of communication or companionship, so I decided it was a good time to call Mom.

We’ve been talking for a while when this primal howl comes from the couch. A total barbaric yawp.

“Clairvoyance is the BEST. SPELL. EVER!!!”

Mom pauses.


Mom uses my full name when she wants an extra second to think.

“Did he just say….. ‘Clairvoyance’?”

I so did not want the video game talk right now, and if I told her the circumstances, I would get it.




“Well, I suppose I could teach him to read the Tarot… do you think he’s mature enough?”

Pole Dancing, Part 2


So Grandma hadn’t been feeling very well after the wedding (come to find out it was walking pneumonia). So one day I called to check up on her.

“Honey, I’m so glad to hear from you! You know, ever since you told me about that pole I’ve just been laughing to myself!”

“Is that so?”

“Yes, it just seems so funny to think of this old lady jiggling around in her alltogether. I can’t imagine anyone would enjoy it, though…”

This is officially a conversational dead end. I can say “There are some pretty sick guys who would think that was awfully hot,” or “Yeah, Grandma, you’re just gross.” Neither sounds like a good plan. I decide on the middle road.

“Well, maybe there’s someone….” I’m trying to imbue a reasonable amount of scepticism into this statement. Apparently it didn’t come across.

“Really, do you think so?”

I’m committed now.

“Well, maybe.”

“Maybe I just need some practice first.”

“…. Maybe.”

“I know, I’ll try it for my senior’s group!!!”


“Umm… Grandma, do you really think that’s a good idea?”

“Yeah, sure, why not? And if I get good enough, I can give lessons!”

“Um, Grandma? Doesn’t your minister go to your senior citizens group?”

“Oh, Reverend Tim? Yeah, but that’s okay.”

“It is?”

“He retired last week! He’s not my minister anymore!”


Wedding Stories!


I promised some stories from Lydia’s wedding.

Actually, all things considered, it was a very nice ceremony. It was Renaissance themed, and they had some old vows, which I actually thought were pretty sweet. Like, they gave each other salt to show that they would cherish each other through tears of joy and sorrow, they gave each other a coin to show that all they had belonged to each other, stuff like that.

And Grandma was officiating.

Now, Lydia really ought to have known better, because Grandma officiated at my wedding. She bawled the whole way through, then would wipe her face, so her fingers would be wet, then try to turn a page in the manual and some of the pages ended up sticking together. So we missed a whole lot of trivial little things like… forsaking all others and till death do you part.

But Lydia was in a pretty tight spot, because if she had acted on that knowledge, the whole family would have been like… “ELLE asked your grandmother to officiate. Don’t YOU want your grandmother to officiate??”

So it went something like this:

“William Jeffrey, do you give to Lydia this bread, that you may succor her till the end of days?”

I’m thinking, “Wow, End of Days?? That’s pretty apocalyptic for a faux-pagan ceremony.”

“Lydia, I give you this bread, that I shall succor you till the end of OUR days.”

Ok, that sounds a little better.

“Oh, that IS what I was supposed to say, isn’t it?” *sigh* “Lydia Jane, do you give to William this bread, that you may succor him till the end of days?”

“William, I give you this bread, that I shall succor you till the end of OUR days.”

“Shit! I did it again!”


Now, I also have to tell you a bit about my Aunt Glenda. Aunt Glenda is my father’s eldest sister, tough as nails and hardheaded as a mule. Except more bossy.

Way more bossy.

Lydia had neglected to line up a photographer, and many people (rightly) felt that she ought to have some record of the wedding, so out came about fifty cameras. Aunt Glenda was first in line and had claimed the title of official photographer within five minutes.

That’s just the way she works. It’s like… she just expects the rest of the world to fall in with her views, so ninety percent of the time, they do. There are exactly three people who are immune to her… myself, Mom, and her eldest daughter Sally. And sometimes Sally plays along to keep the peace.

So we’re at the restaurant having the reception. Aunt Glenda is trying to get the perfect shot. Will and Lydia are standing side by side going through a doorway, and Aunt Glenda is behind them, telling them how to move so she can get what she wants. “Look this way, move like this”… you get the idea.

You also have to know that Will and Lydia are both about 5’10”. Aunt Glenda would have to stand on tiptoe to hit 5’1″, so it’s looking pretty funny anyway. Like a Chihuahua who just KNOWS he can make that Rottie do what he wants him to.

Always put your money on the Chihuahua.

Will and Lydia both have long hair, and they both had it braided for the day in fancy braids. Will’s was just sort of a French braid, and Lydia’s had baby’s breath all through it. Don’t ask me how.

Aunt Glenda was rapidly loosing patience that the world was not molding itself to her desire quickly enough.

So she reaches up… WAY up… and grabs the back of Lydia’s braid and yanks it around to where Lydia is looking the way she needs to be.

“Now, FREEZE.”

Will is looking at her with his jaw on the floor.

So Aunt Glenda reaches over his shoulder, grabs HIS braid, and repeats the process.

It’s actually a pretty good picture… I’d put it up if it weren’t for privacy concerns. But the REALLY priceless picture is the one that Aunt Sherry took from the front. Because then you can see the looks on their faces.