Phone Antics

Mom is extremely shy of being in front of an audience.  She always says she would rather be backstage than on stage.  She says she can’t act, but put a phone in her hand and she has been known to impersonate people pretty successfully.

Mom and I sound a lot alike, especially on the phone.  So much alike, in fact, that even Mom has been fooled before.  One time she didn’t pick up the phone before her answering machine, and when she heard her own voice telling callers she wasn’t available, she actually thought it was me on the phone.

Sounding alike on the phone has come in handy for me.  When I was a teenager, there was a boy I sometimes went out with who loved to talk on the phone.  He droned on and on about cars or some other boring subject, and not only did I grow weary of listening, but one time I really had to use the restroom.  I signaled Mom over and asked her to pretend to be me for a bit.

“But what will I say?” she wondered.

“Just sound interested,” I whispered while covering the phone.  “But, I have to warn you, he’s really boring!”

She reluctantly took the phone while I gladly left.  I could hear her agreeing with him and making small comments of interest.  I took my time getting back to the phone.  She must have talked for me for ten minutes and the poor fellow never had a clue.

I’m not the only one who has asked Mom to take her place on the phone.  Mom has a friend who is a public figure and is frequently interviewed on television and radio.  Let’s call her Jane Doe.  Well, Jane was covering an important trial in another city and had asked Mom to come up and spend some time with her.  When the trial ended, Jane Doe was to be on a phone interview for a radio program, answering questions about the trial and offering her opinion.

Jane and Mom had a flight scheduled right after the phone interview and Jane thought she had plenty of time to pack before she was needed on the phone, but she didn’t take into account that Mom was with her, and when one is with Mom, things often go crazy.  And they did.

Mom has a tendency to be in buildings when the fire alarm goes off.  I think she can count almost 20 times that this has happened to her.  She claims that she was the actual cause of the fire alarm only once, but even if that’s true, she gets blamed for many of them because of how often she is in the building when the alarm is set off.  Can this really be a coincidence?

Just when Jane started packing, foolishly thinking that all would go smoothly, the hotel fire alarm sounded.  Mom thought, “Here we go again,” and calmly told Jane that it was time to evacuate.  Packing would have to wait.

By the time they were allowed back in their room, it was time for Jane’s interview, but she still hadn’t packed and they had to leave for the airport directly after the phone call.  Being a woman of action, Jane had a plan.

“Marci, this radio host is going to do most of the talking and I’m only expected to answer questions periodically,” she said.  “You can listen to him talk on the phone while I pack and then hand me the phone whenever he asks me a question.”

Mom was skeptical but willing.

The radio host had a lot to say in the beginning, and Mom relaxed and started paying more attention to Jane than the host.  Jane had been shopping and had purchased more clothes than would fit in her suitcase, so she started putting some of her things in Mom’s suitcase.  Mom wanted to see what was going in her bag, and was so absorbed by watching Jane that she was caught off guard when the radio host said, “And what do you think, Jane?”

Mom panicked.  She thrust the phone at Jane and whispered, “Just say, ‘Excuse me?’”  Jane was smooth.  She listened as the host repeated his question, and answered without hesitation, then handed the phone back to Mom as she returned to her packing.

Mom was on top of it after that.  For the next half hour, Mom listened carefully and whispered the appropriate questions to Jane while handing her the phone. Jane handled it like a pro, never missing a beat, which was quite a challenge because Mom thought the situation was funny and started giggling.  This caused Jane to giggle, too.  Before long, the two of them were laughing so hard that Jane needed to rely on her experience in order to sound professional in between laughing fits.  Silly Mom can drag anyone into her world of crazy antics!

Eventually the interview was over and Jane was packed and ready to go.  The two of them laughed all the way to the airport, thinking that their ordeal was over.  But they should have known better….Mom was there, and the craziness wasn’t over quite yet.  But that’s a story for next time.


Mom Goes Up, Dad Goes Down

Mom is always trying to think of new things to do that are exciting and fun, but sometimes she gets more than she bargained for.  We were in Hawaii and preparing to go for an unusual scuba diving excursion.  We were all scuba certified and had been on some beautiful dives, but this dive would be different.  We were headed to the backside of Molokini Crater.  We had already explored the inside of the crater, which was clear and warm water all the way to the floor 100 feet below.  But the backside of the crater had a floor that dropped to 360 feet and is only supposed to be explored by experienced divers.

Our guide explained the dangers of a wall dive.  We were to stay in pairs, obeying the buddy-system, and should plan on hovering at about 80 feet.  I thought of all the unknown creatures that might be swimming below me in the dark void.  Mom thought of falling into the deep and being crushed by the pressure.  I kept my eyes roving below to make sure I wouldn’t get caught unaware should some sea monster decide to surface.  Mom kept her thumb on the button to add air to her BC (kind of like a life vest that you fill with air to rise, or release air to sink).  She was determined to make sure she had enough air that she wouldn’t sink into the abyss.

We all entered the water, paired with our buddies (Mom and Dad were buddies), and began our descent.  Still afraid of dropping uncontrollably, Mom tried to descend very slowly, but started dropping faster than she was comfortable with.  In fact, when she realized that she was actually below the rest of us, Mom got nervous and added a little air to her BC.  There is a slight delay between inflating air and becoming buoyant.  Mom knew this, but it seemed to be taking too long, and a little bit of panic took over her thinking.  She inflated more air, and then more.

Before she realized what was happening, Mom was on her way to the surface, and Dad had no clue.  Dad knew the dangers of the dive and was concerned for the whole family.  He was diligent about looking around and counting all the bodies to make sure we were all safe.  However, between looking after everyone’s safety and looking at the wall with the beautiful sea life, Dad took his eye off of Mom for only a moment.  That’s all it took for her to disappear.   All the way to the surface, Mom yelled and screamed, hoping someone would hear her, but no one did.

It didn’t take long for Dad to notice that his partner was missing.  His first thought was that she had dropped into the deep unknown.  Always very logical, he looked around for her bubbles, figuring that he could locate her by them.  No bubbles.  It did occur to him that she might have gone up, but he wasn’t going to take the chance of not looking below first.    He found our guide, signaled that Mom was missing, and both men began to search.  Dad sunk to 100 feet and peered into the depths as far as he could see.  No Mom.  He knew he couldn’t safely dive much deeper, but Dad took a deep breath and dropped as far as he could.  Scanning the area, he still didn’t see Mom.  Before his lungs could take no more, he glanced at his depth regulator and saw he was at 180 feet.   Poor Dad.  He thought he might have lost Mom for good.

Meanwhile, Mom surfaced near enough to the boat that they spotted her pretty quickly and threw her a life-preserver.   The rest of us surfaced, just as Mom was climbing into the boat, safe and sound.  Dad berated Mom for scaring him, and Mom berated Dad for not noticing his partner rising away from him, and for not hearing her yelling under water.  In the end, we all had to just laugh.  It wouldn’t be a family vacation without Mom doing something silly.



scuba mom

Mom’s Too Slow

Mom loves speed and thrills….on roller coasters, that is.  In fact, she used to go to Knott’s Berry Farm with the kids and me, and while I had the excuse to sit with the youngest child while the others rode the scariest rides, Mom was happy to be their chaperone.  She had the reputation for being the cool grandma as onlookers watched her laughing and having a great time being whipped around every which way.

But Mom gets all her speed needs met on the thrill rides and is a very conservative driver in her own vehicle.  In fact, she sometimes goes a bit too slow.

One time she and Grandma were driving separately home from some event and Mom was in the lead.  She didn’t want to be rude and leave her mother behind, so she diligently watched the rear view mirror to make sure she could see Grandma’s headlights right behind her.  Noticing that those headlights were falling slightly behind, Mom slowed down.  The headlights slowed down, too.  Mom slowed more, wanting to give Grandma the chance to catch up a little better.  But once again, Mom thought the headlights were starting to lag a little, so she slowed again.  By this time she was going about 40 mph on the freeway (in the slow lane, of course!), and she couldn’t figure out why her mother couldn’t step on it a little.

Mom looked again into the rear view mirror, and her stomach dropped.  Instead of seeing Grandma’s headlights, she saw police lights.  Mom always tries so hard to obey all the laws that she has had very few run-ins with the police, and she was nervous.  Why would he be pulling her over?  She certainly wasn’t speeding!

The policeman approached Mom’s car and with a puzzled look on his face, asked, “Why were you going so slow?”

Always so honest, Mom told the truth.   “I thought you were my mom,” she said.

Either the officer understood Mom’s silly logic, or he just didn’t want to bother with her anymore, but he let her go with a warning, telling her to drive faster from now on.  It’s not too often you hear that from the Highway Patrol!

The freeway is not the only place Mom has been known to drive too slowly.  When I was young, we used to have ATCs (three-wheelers) which we frequently took to the desert.  On one such trip, Mom and Dad took off with an uncle to go for a ride on the ATCs.  They rode around for a while and ended up in the bottom of a cone of sand.  Dad and my uncle were both very logical and exited the cone in the usual manner of winding around in a spiral all the way to the top. Mom, however, is not logical.  She thought she might save time by climbing straight up the side of the very steep hill.  This might have worked if Mom were going fast enough, but apparently she wasn’t.

She didn’t have enough momentum.   Almost as if in slow-motion, the front wheel left the sand, and Mom felt herself falling backwards.  Any normal person might have let go of the handles and just slid off gracefully.  But Mom doesn’t do normal.  As she landed in the sand, she pulled the heavy vehicle right on top of her.

Mom’s troubles didn’t stop there.   Apparently ATCs are not meant to be up-side-down.  The gas cap works great when the vehicle is on all three wheels, but not so much when it is inverted.  As Mom lay on her back with the ATC pinning her down, gas began spilling all over her.

Mom tried to get up, but all she accomplished was much flailing of arms and legs.  Then a funny thought popped into her head:  she thought that she was just like an up-side-down turtle.  And that’s when the giggles hit her.  Here she was, pinned in the hot sand with a heavy vehicle on top of her, and covered in flammable gas, and Mom couldn’t stop laughing.

And that’s how Dad and my uncle found her.  It wasn’t long before they realized Mom wasn’t with them and turned around to look for her.  What a sight they saw.  They couldn’t see Mom’s head or body under the ATC, but they saw the underside of the vehicle and Mom’s legs and arms sprawled out to the sides, wiggling around.  Dad thought she looked funny too, but rather than think of a turtle, he thought she looked like a bug.

Either bug or turtle, we can always count on Mom to do something silly and keep us all entertained.

Mom looks much better when upright on the ATC!

Mom looks much better when upright on the ATC!


Gotta love those 70s clothes!


We had a lot of fun times in the desert.

The Bank Robbery

Mom has often had trouble with credit cards while on a trip.  One time her purse got stolen the night before a trip and she lost her credit cards, which turned out to be a nightmare for her.  And several times her cards have been denied in faraway lands because the card company was trying to prevent fraud (even though Mom always tells her credit card companies where she is going…no one ever listens to Mom!).  All these experiences have made Mom want to protect her cards, no matter what – even during a robbery.

Mom was preparing to leave for some exotic location by visiting her bank to get foreign currency. She didn’t think she would be very long in the bank, so she left Grandma sitting in the car with our dog while she ran in to get the money.  While waiting in line, Mom thought of all the things that still needed to be done before leaving in a couple of days.

Completely wrapped up in her own thoughts (and being a very jumpy person to start with), Mom was caught off guard when the bank was suddenly filled with the noise of two gun shots.  Of course, Mom screamed at the top of her lungs at the sound.

The shots were immediately followed by someone yelling at everyone to get on the floor.  Mom looked around and saw people start dropping instantly, but Silly Mom thought that she must surely be on candid camera, and glibly watched as others responded to the threatening intruder.  Some inner instinct kept Mom from looking directly at the shooter, but she was intensely aware of his presence when he yelled at her (actually swore at her) to get on the floor NOW!  All thoughts of Candid Camera gone, she said, “Yes, Sir!” and dropped to the ground as fast as she could.

Now, Mom does not think like a regular person.  Rather than paying attention to what was happening in the bank at that moment, all Mom could think about was her credit cards getting stolen again right before a big trip.  There was no way she was letting that happen!  Mom was determined to keep her credit cards away from this thief at all costs.

Very carefully, and moving slowly so as not to draw attention to herself, Mom snuck her hand into her purse, extracted a credit card, and then very stealthily slipped it into her bra.  Card after card was quietly transferred into a place she hoped the robber would never look.  And just for good measure, Mom put her wedding ring in along with the cards.

She was so intent on her mission of saving her cards from thievery that Mom didn’t realize the robber had taken his loot and left.  One of the tellers had to reassure Mom twice that the coast was clear before she finally realized it was safe to get up.

This whole time, during the robbery and the time it took the police to arrive and question the witnesses, Grandma sat patiently in the car, wondering why Mom was taking so long in the bank.  The police noticed her sitting in the car and wondered if she might be a potential witness.  Grandma admitted that she had seen someone run out of the bank, but she hadn’t paid any attention to him.  The policeman then informed her that the bank had just been robbed.  Silly Grandma’s only response was, “Oh, so that’s what’s taking her so long!”

After the police left Grandma, the car phone rang (this was in the days before people had cell phones, but ever on the cutting edge of technology, Dad had portable phones installed in the cars).  It was Dad, wanting to talk to Mom.

“The bank got robbed,” Grandma told him, “and Marci is still inside.”

“OK,” Dad responded, “Have her call me when she comes out.”

They were both so used to Mom getting into unusual predicaments, that it didn’t faze either of them.

Mom finally did return to the car and called Dad right away to tell him the news.  “Were you worried about me?” she asked.

“No,” he casually responded.  “I knew that if you were in the bank answering questions that you must have been okay.”  Dear Dad is always so logical!

“Well, I am,” Mom declared, a little disappointed that he was neither surprised nor concerned over her situation.  But she was extremely pleased with herself over one thing, and she let him know it:  “And so are the credit cards!” She proudly proclaimed.

** As a side note, here is some factual information on the bank robber:

Known as “The Shootist,” Johnny Madison Williams Jr., was one of the most successful bank robbers in American history.  He admitted to robbing 56 banks by the time he was arrested in 1994.  His method of shooting into the air when he entered the bank was in order to promote terror and compliance.  His wife helped him with the get-aways, and she kept all the records of their robberies.  He was a very organized and calculating bank robber, who planned his heists well in advance with great attention to detail.  It took eight years for the police to finally catch him.

Poem for Mom

Mom really wants me to share the poem I had engraved on the plaque for her.  Silly Mom, it is not a well-written poem, and I’m embarrassed to share it, but she loves it, and says that it still brings tears to her eyes when she thinks of it.  Although I had the poem engraved when I was 14, I actually wrote it when I was 12, so please forgive the lack of any resemblance to real poetry.  Here it is:

To My Dearest Mother….

Mom reminds me of a dove,

she always gives so much love.

She runs such a pure and innocent life,

my father says she’s a very good wife.

She treats me with tender loving care,

everyone says we’re a perfect pair!

I do my best to make her happy,

I try hard not to be too sappy.

I look up to her as if she’s a cloud,

of me I hope she’s very proud!

She’s hardly ever mad,

because I’m rarely bad,

’cause I hate to see her sad.

She sings like a bird,

beauty in every word.

She glows like the sun,

’cause she’s number one!

The Best Christmas Ever

Although Mom never really liked Christmas, she always made sure to make it special for Kari and me.  She started baking Christmas cookies the day after Thanksgiving, so the whole house was filled with the sounds and smells of the Holiday spirit for a whole month. We listened to Christmas music, helped put tinsel on the tree, and watched as Mom decorated every part of the house.   To this day, I still love Christmas, and that is probably due to all the effort Mom put into it each year.

One year was especially significant, however, and one the whole family regards as the best Christmas ever.  It was the year I was 14, and Mom decided to do something completely different that year.  She and Dad rented a cabin in Idyllwild so that we could spend the Holiday away from all the usual hustle and bustle.

Actually, with all the planning, prepping and packing that Mom had to do, it was probably a lot more work than she expected, but Mom was excited about the trip, and to see Mom excited at Christmas was fun for everyone.  Of course, Mom had thought of everything.  Besides the food and presents, we also had a Christmas Tree, decorations, plenty of blankets and snugglies, and of course, games.  No trip would be complete without games!

After we were unpacked and wrapped in blankets by the fire, Mom thought it was the perfect time to give herself a manicure.  Yes, she even brought the fake nails and polish to the cabin.  Kari and I played games together while Mom sat still with her nails drying.  After I was sure they had dried long enough, I said, “Mom, let’s play Spades.”

This was one of our family’s favorite card games, and Mom loved playing cards (still does), so I was surprised when she said, “Oh, I think I’ll just sit here and watch you play.”  I was immediately suspicious, and Mom had an odd expression on her face, like she was trying to hide something.

“What did you do?” I asked.  Mom was sitting too still.  Her hand hadn’t moved from its spot on the end table.  And then I knew.  “Did you glue your finger to the table?”

“How did you know?” She sheepishly replied.

Dad was already up and ready to come to the rescue.  “Oh, Honey,” he said shaking his head.  He tried pulling her finger up, but it was definitely stuck.

Reaching into his back pocket, he pulled out his Swiss Army knife.

“Are you going to cut it off?” Mom asked jokingly.

“That’s exactly what I’m going to do,” Dad replied very matter-of-factly.  “We can’t cut the table because it isn’t ours.”

We all thought he was joking, but then he really did put the knife to Mom’s finger.  Very carefully, he wedged the knife under her finger and began slicing, filleting the skin right off.  When he was finished, Mom had her finger back, minus a thin layer of skin, which left a perfect fingerprint on the table.

Relieved to see that Mom was no longer in danger, Kari and I burst out laughing.  No trip would be complete without Mom doing something very silly!

Christmas morning arrived and that meant presents.  I love presents.  I get so excited for others to open what I have given them.  And this year was no exception.  Knowing that Mom was planning a special Christmas, I wanted to make sure I could do something special for her, too.  I used to like to write poetry. It was all pretty corny and not very good, but Mom always made a big deal out of my poems, and liked them all.  There was one I had written about her, however, which was especially meaningful to her.  I had gone through a lot of effort and sneakiness to have that poem engraved on a plaque for her.  I knew she would love it, and I couldn’t wait for her to open her gift.

Her reaction was even better than I had hoped for.  As soon as she saw what it was, tears began to stream down her cheeks.  “Kim,” she sobbed, “I can’t believe it!”  I was so thrilled by her genuine pleasure at the gift, that I started crying, too.

Later, as we sipped hot chocolate and watched the snow fall outside, I thought about what a perfect Christmas this had been.  There had been snow to play in, lots of good food (including cookies), games, love, tears, and of course, laughter.

Tears of Joy

Tears of Joy

Mom loved her plaque

Mom loved her plaque

Grandma, Kari, Mom, Me, and Dad in Idyllwild 1982

Grandma, Kari, Mom, Me, and Dad in Idyllwild 1982

Airport Antics

One of Mom’s favorite “I Love Lucy” episodes is when Lucy tries to smuggle cheese on an airplane, even pretending it’s her baby, but ends up eating most of it to try to get rid of the evidence.  We all love Lucy, but Mom especially loves her.  I think it’s because she sees so much of herself in the character.

Although Mom has never smuggled cheese, some of her antics at the airport are very “Lucy-esc.”

Mom loves carrying a large purse while traveling, because she can fit so much stuff into it, and Mom believes in being prepared for anything.  Her large capacity purse has been very convenient for me, too; whenever I don’t want to hold something, Mom is a good sport about putting it in her purse for me.   Everything seems to find its way to Mom’s purse.  Even food.

I have never liked eating on an airplane.  In the days when they used to give meals on domestic flights, Mom always wanted to sit next to me because she knew she’d get all of my food in addition to hers.  Anything that she could easily store and save for later went right into her purse.  During a lay-over one time, I asked Mom for my book, which, of course, was in her purse.  When Mom handed me my book, I saw it was all slimy and gooey, and not just on the outside, but also smashed into the pages.

“What is this all over my book?”  I asked her.  She was puzzled, too, and worried that the goo might be all over the inside of her purse.  She investigated.  Sure enough, all the contents were contaminated with slimy, disgusting goo.  Finally, with a sheepish grin, Mom reached to bottom of her purse and pulled out a banana skin.  Not a whole banana, just the skin.  The rest of the once ripe and perfect fruit had been pulverized in her purse and turned into goo.

Of course, Mom thought this was funny.  I tried to clean off my book, but I couldn’t get rid of the banana smell (I hate bananas).  I guess whenever I read the book I made a funny face, because whenever Mom saw me with the book, she started giggling again.  I decided to hold onto my own things from then on.

Another instance regarding fruit in an airport happened when I lived out of state and had flown home to visit the folks.  Mom and Dad live on several acres of land and have a couple hundred avocado trees.  They know how much I love avocados, so as I was packing to go back home, Dad entered my room with a bag full of avocados he had just picked for me.  What a treat!

I tucked avocados in all the edges of the suitcase, making sure to get them all in.  When we arrived at the airport, Mom walked with me to the check-in counter.  As I set my suitcase on the scale, the attendant said, “Sorry, your bag is overweight and we’ll have to charge you $50.”  What?!

I asked her to give me a moment so that I could move some things from the luggage to my purse (like mother like daughter).  Mom quickly got to work, helping to transfer avocado after avocado to my purse.  When the purse was full (there were still a lot of avocados in the suitcase, but surely we removed enough…), we zipped up the luggage and stepped back to the counter.

“There,” I said a little smugly, my shoulder already sagging under the extra weight in my purse, “that ought to meet the weight requirements now.”

“Still over the weight limit,” the attendant declared very matter-of-factly.  The woman had no sense of humor, but Mom did, and she started to think this was funny.  Giggling, Mom grabbed my suitcase off the scale, and opened it again.

“I don’t have any more room in my purse,” I whispered to Mom.  But Mom knew what to do.  She started shoving avocados in her pockets.  One went in each jacket pocket, one in each pants pocket (Mom loves clothes with pockets!).  But she was running out of space, too.  She tried to fit one more in her pants pocket, but the pocket wasn’t quite big enough.  The avocado dropped out and rolled across the floor.

That’s when the giggle fit hit Mom.  And of course, the more she giggled, the less coordinated she was.  She doubled over, unable to move for a moment, shaking in silent laughter.  I braved a glance around and saw that the entire line of waiting customers was staring at us, with less than supportive looks.  Mom finally got her giggling under control, and bulging with avocados from every crevice, she announced that she thought my case would be light enough now.

She was right.  The attendant checked me in, practically glaring at me.

I waved a final goodbye to Mom, whostruggled to wave back without dropping any more avocados.  As I saw her cradling avocados in her arms, giggling again, I thought of Lucy with the cheese, and realized (not for the first time) that Mom was perhaps the silliest person I knew.