Laurie Notaro is an author, crafter, and expert at finding a good cocktail. She grew up in Phoenix, but is currently based in Eugene, Oregon. Each week, she'll be joining us to share a crafting adventure, draw a flowchart, or remember a few of her favorite things about Phoenix. Today, she shares her latest conversation with her mother, who's threatening not to speak to her.
"That's it!" my mother snapped from the other end of the phone. "I'm not talking to you anymore. From now on, we are not talking!"
This was hardly the response I expected after giving my mother a compliment. I was stunned. No, I take that back. I was not stunned, but I guess I didn't expect that strong of a reaction.
"Did you hear what I said?" I reiterated, positive--no, I take that back--hopeful that she had heard me wrong when I told my mother that when I got notes back on a project I was writing, the first thing on the agenda was "More of your mother. Love her."
See also: - Laurie Notaro on Recipe Theft, Cheap Toilet Paper, and Not Being Invited to a Close Friend's Party on Facebook - Laurie Notaro's Existential Showdown on Yelp - Laurie Notaro's Five Reasons Why Haboobs Are Awesome
"I heard what you said, and that's why I'm not talking to you anymore," she explained, her voice rising. "If I don't talk to you anymore, then you can't write about me anymore."
"That is ridiculous," I stammered. "Who doesn't want to be everyone's favorite part?"
"ME!" she shot back. "Why don't you write about your in-laws? They're funny."
"Are you kidding?" I asked. "That lineage is off limits! Most of them have guns and I have to eat Christmas dinner with those people!"
"In that case, I'm buying the next gun I see on QVC," my mother informed me. "Even if it's not a Joan Rivers brand."
"See?" I said. "That's why you're everyone's favorite part." "You were their favorite part in the whole thing!," I tried to tell her. "They want more of you!"
"I don't know what the hell you're talking about. You have a weird brain. Why can't you leave me alone and write about little boys and girls like that other woman with the weird brain?" my mother asked.
I took a stab at it.
"You mean JK Rowling?" I answered. "The richest woman in the world? I do not have the same brain as JK Rowling."
"Well, maybe not the same one, but there's something wrong with both of your brains," my mother continued. "She's a weirdo. I heard there's a lot of sex in her new book. Disgusting. You should try to write a magic book, and one that the mother in it is dead."
"I can't help it if you're funny, Mom," I tried to explain. "That's not my fault. That's God's fault."
"Don't blame God for that!" my mother snapped. "I am not funny. I just don't know why you couldn't have been a nurse or a paralegal."
"You're hilarious," I argued.
"Name one thing that I said was funny," she challenged me.
I cleared my throat and launched into my best Mom voice, complete with a thick, Brooklyn accent. "'So I went for my first iPad class today, and there were ten people in the room. I was smarter than nine of them.'"
My mother waited for me to finish the joke.
"That's not funny!" she finally said. "They were all touching their screens, making them filthy like little animals. Your father bought me a special pencil that I use. Why would you dirty your screen if you could just use a magic pencil? That's not funny. That's using your head!"
I launched into exhibit B, my second impression.
"'So I said to my friend Judy, "Here, this is the stupidest book I've ever read. You'll love it,'" I finished.
Again, my mother paused.
"Oh," she said. "That James Patterson book. You know, he is my favorite author. But that book stunk. It was terrible. And you know what? She loved it! Did I ever tell you Judy has a tattoo?"
"Yes," I confirmed. "Every time you say her name."
"You know, and to think that I was so excited when you were born because I had a baby. When I looked at you, I should have said to myself, 'This is the one. This is the one that's going to kill you,'" my mother said. "Because I would have been right!"
"Well, if you're so unhappy with me, who would you trade me for?" I challenged her. "Any daughter in the world. Who would you trade me for?"
She giggled a little bit. "You know," she said. "You know."
Now it was my turn to pause.
"Linda? You'd trade me for my sister Linda?" I asked.
"Sure," she said.
"No," I corrected her. "No. You're trading me, you're not eliminating me. You have to trade me for someone else. You can't just cancel me out."
"Are you sure?" she asked. "Because eliminating is fine, and I don't know what difference it makes."
"It makes a difference!" I yelled. "You can't trade me for a daughter you already have!"
"Maybe I can have two Lindas," she suggested. "Linda twins."
"Mom, pick one of your friend's daughters. Which one would you rather have instead if me?" I insisted.
"Ooooooh," she said, thinking. "I know! I know! Debbie, my friend Erna's daughter. I'd rather have her."
"Why?" I asked calmly.
"Because she takes Erna out to lunch all the time and bought Erna carpet," my mother explained.
"I thought Erna lived in a studio apartment," I said.
"Yeah. So?" my mother replied.
"That's like buying someone a bath mat," I shot back. "Your house is 5,000 square feet. I'm not buying 5,000 square feet of carpet."
"Maybe that's why I'd rather have Debbie," she said smugly. "And maybe that's why I'm not talking to you anymore."
"Doesn't Judy have a daughter?" I asked.
"Judy with the tattoo?" she answered. "I don't know."
"All right, fine," I replied quickly. "So how do we work this, what's the plan? Do we get a proxy, or a communication surrogate, or is it a complete black out?"
"A blackout," my mother decided.
"Even when I visit?" I asked. "The blackout is in effect when I come home, too? You're just not going to talk to me?"
"Yeah," my mother answered.
"Wow, I had this dream once!" I exclaimed excitedly. "So I say something to you, and you just stay quiet?"
"Yeah," my mother confirmed.
"Can we practice now?" I asked.
"Entitlements," I whispered.
I heard her take a breath.
"Health care for everyone," I said a little louder.
"Obama!" I said in a full voice.
"That's enough!" she cried.
"I am so wearing my Arizonans For Obama T-shirt when I get off the plane!" I exclaimed in joy, and I couldn't wait to tell my other sister, Lisa. "I bet Lisa's going to start writing about you, too!"
"Whatever," my mother replied. "I'll trade for three Lindas."
"So when does the blackout start?" I asked. "How will I know that you've started not talking to me?"
"I don't know," she said. "I have to think about it."
"All right," I said. "Will you call me when it starts?"
"Sure," my mother agreed.
"Because I don't want to miss it," I added. "I want you to tell me when you've stopped speaking to me."
"Ok, I'll call you," she confirmed. "Maybe Sunday."
"Sunday's good," I agreed. "I'll be here when you call."
"So I'll talk to you then to stop talking?" she asked.
"Yep," I nodded. "I'll talk to you then."
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Phoenix New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Phoenix's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
"Talk to you soon about not talking," my mother said.
"All right, Mom," I said, "We'll talk then."
Stay tuned for new adventures with Laurie Notaro, and catch up on a few classics in any of her books including The Idiot Girls' Action-Adventure Club: True Tales from a Magnificent and Clumsy Life,It Looked Different on the Model, I Love Everybody (and Other Atrocious Lies), There's a Slight Chance I Might Be Going to Hell, and An Idiot Girl's Christmas at Changing Hands, on Amazon, or through her website.