Mother had a way of trying to explain her illogical logic that was difficult to accept. It was a very Alice in Wonderland sort of experience. The first time a person encountered her twisted “logic”, they often made the mistake of attempting to follow it. Woe to anyone foolish enough to make the same attempt a second time. Men have been driven mad by such foolish endeavors.
If you tried to correct Mother or discuss her unbelievable thinking, you would pay a heavy price. She specialized in a verbal form of shock and awe long before that phrase was commonly known. One of her biggest pet peeves was the subject of housekeeping, as evidenced by her proud ownership of a doormat emblazoned with the words:
Martha Stewart Doesn’t Live Here
Mother always said that if people didn’t care for her housekeeping (or lack thereof) that they didn’t need to visit. She once dropped this little logic bomb on my sister and I after we had driven the long and winding road of over twelve hours to make our annual summer visit to her.
Mother never thought that the state of her household was her problem or that she should care what others thought about her messy habitat.
Learning to temper her comments was as foreign a concept to Mother as housecleaning. She always thought her opinion was much more valuable than someone’s feelings. One of her favorite comments when out in public was to loudly remark on people’s weight.
Oh, I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many fat and obese people in my life!
she would loudly proclaim to my sister’s horror. And remember, this proclamation was coming from an overweight woman (and by overweight I mean 5’6″ and 350 pounds) who suffered from inflated self-esteem. Indeed, Mother’s lifelong battle of the bulge was evidenced by so many fad diets, such as the Pomegranate phase, and her endless weight loss journey. But, in her bizzaro-land universe, she was slim and healthy. It actually seemed to work for her, in a weird way.
If she purchased an electronic item and asked for your help, watch out. You were potentially in for another kind of verbal assault. First, you would remove the item from the package. All the time she would critique your method of opening the package while, naturally, doing nothing to actually help you. Then you would set up the gadget and hope to hell she would follow along with your explanation. As you demonstrated the new product, Mother seemed to randomly choose from one of two response mechanisms:
- she would either say she understood, nodding her head and grunting “Uh-huh” and “I see”, or
- she would try to throw it across the room and demand that you take it back
Her patience for electronics was as foreign as the Chinese language (though, or course, she had plenty of first-hand experience ordering Chinese Bibles).
There are a number of lessons once could learn from this, but I think my favorite lesson is that learned the hard way by my sister’s son, who is an electronics whiz, and my husband, who taught computers for over 20 years: Never engage someone in an up to date product when they are mentally trapped in the 1950s.