Sunday, November 09, 2008

CONNIVING 101: Lessons my Mother Taught Me

It was suggested by Travis in the comments section of a recent blog post that I might be a bit of a conniver. Actually, my conniving skills aren’t much to speak of, at least not to me. But that’s because I grew up watching in awe some of my mother’s more prolific shots.

I love my mother, but she’s not normal. Don’t get offended. She would be happy with the description – normal would never be a thing she’d aspire to. I’ve often told her that she should be writing her memoir – but she’s convinced that no one would believe it, and she’s likely right. If I didn’t live there, I wouldn’t believe half the shit she did while we were little, and she mellowed out quite a bit after having children from what I understand. To make you understand a bit of her character, my oldest brother can’t watch I Love Lucy. He has a physical aversion to it, it reminds him so much of some of my mother’s shots... I think it even gives him a bit of a tick. I kind of understand – it can be hard to deal with from the inside when you’d really love a mom who bakes cookies and wound up, instead, with one who hatches schemes.

One person in particular that my mother loved to play practical jokes on was one of my dad’s friends. He could take it, and would sometimes even try to get even, so I think it was more mental gymnastics for her. When we were young, so sometime in the late seventies or maybe very early eighties, he opened a hot dog joint. It was pretty run of the mill, hot dogs, beef sandwiches, gyros, and the like – but it was his own business, which is a very big deal and he was proud of it. Early on, he got this big sign for over the counter. It was pretty expensive and nice, it had his whole menu and the prices and he kept talking about it for weeks before it arrived and right after he got it. For ease in narration, without using real names, I’ll refer to him as ‘our mark’ in this story.

That first week that the sign was up, my mom came in and placed an order. They stood at the counter talking for a few minutes, when a man in a suit came in with a brief case.

The man walked up to the counter, staring at the sign.

“Can I help you?” Our mark asked.

“Yeah,” man with brief case responded, handing over a business card, “I’m a representative of Oscar Myer Company. Your sign is in violation of our company trademark.”

“What are you talking about? I don’t even use Oscar Myer, there’s no Oscar Myer mentioned on the sign” Our mark said.

“Yes, I know. If you used Oscar Myer there would be no problem. As it stands, you use Vienna – but you used the spelling B-E-E-F – that spelling is trademarked to our company. You can’t use it without our written permission. The sign will have to come down.”

“What are you, crazy? That’s how you spell beef. You can’t have a trademark on that.”

“No, sir, you spell beef, B-E-A-F.” Briefcase guy replied.

My mother was standing to the side of the counter through the entire conversation, trying to avert her eyes.

“No... that’s not right... beef is B-E-E-F,” our mark mumbled, “Hey,” he said to my mother, “How do you spell beef?”

My mother looked at him blank eyed, “B-E-A-F. Why?”

“What do you mean?” he yelled in agitation, “It’s B-E-E-F!”

“No, it’s not,” my mother responded, and then looking at the sign, “Oh, they spelled it wrong.”

Now our mark was thoroughly confused. Another patron had been sitting in a booth just near the counter, listening. Our mark looked at her, eyes wide in confusion.

“I think they’re right,” the patron said, “I’m pretty sure it’s B-E-A-F.”

“You’ll have to remove the sign until the spelling is fixed.” Briefcase guy went on.

Our mark looked at his lovely sign that he’d been bragging about for eons, and didn’t want to take it down. He pulled a ladder out of the back and was climbing up to try to cover the “E” with an “A” written in magic marker on a piece of paper when my mother finally broke and started laughing.

Briefcase guy was my brother’s little league coach. Patron was just a very gullible stranger.

All of this just to have a little fun. Makes you wonder what she might accomplish if she ever uses her powers for good.


Stephen Parrish said...

My kind of lady! I love practical jokes. I used to initiate new employees by calling them up and posing absurd questions in a country bumpkin voice while fellow staff members sat around my speaker phone, suppressing laughter. What's the point of a life without practical jokes?

Zoe Winters said...

LMAO, or if she used them for real evil! hahahaha. She could have been a great con artist! haha.

Precie said...

Oh, dear God in heaven, your mother would be the death of me. That incident in particular would have me on my knees.

LOL! I think I'm with your brother on this. ;)

Merry Monteleone said...

Hey Stephen,

Now somehow I knew she'd be right up your alley.

Hey Zoe,

She could have been a great con artist!

Never said she wasn't.... mwa-ha-ha-ha....

Kidding, of course... How's it going by you?

Hey Precie,

That was actually one of the light ones. You wanna hear about the time she stole a paddy wagon? Or the time she put a door between our dining room and kitchen to convince the phone people it was two different households so my dad wouldn't know she installed a second line... that was enough to give a kid heartburn.

Zoe Winters said...

hehe it's going good. Sorry I haven't been by in awhile.

Mom In Scrubs said...

I've always been envious of people who can do that stuff. Me? I can't keep a straight face for the life of me...

Props to your mom! And Pepto- to you...

Precie said...

How does one steal a paddy wagon? That's something people are bound to notice! LOL!

Merry Monteleone said...

Hey Zoe,

Don't worry about it - I've been a bit remiss in visiting and blogging myself.

Hey Mom in Scrubs,

Thanks for the pepto, she's actually chilled quite a bit since the good old days... I can't keep a straight face either, I'm the exact opposite, whatever I'm thinking is pretty obvious to anyone standing near me.

Hey Precie,

Oh, they noticed. THey had just locked her friend in the back when my mom jumped in the driver's seat, yelling, "I'll save you!!!"

Unfortunately for her, she didn't know how to drive it and they caught her on foot... made for a great story though, didn't it?

Travis Erwin said...

Classic story.

Merry Monteleone said...

Thanks Travis - I loved your latest, too.

ChrisEldin said...

I like her. Very much.

There is a book in there, no?