Sometimes people ask me, “Oh, Jen, in the face of such terrible adversity — hair that won’t lie flat no matter what you do, probable liver failure, general psychosis — how to maintain such a lovely and healthy attitude? How, how can you be so funny?” The answer, my friends is simple. I have the funniest mother on the planet, and I steal all her material.
My mother is funny in two ways: on purpose, and accidentally. I’m not sure which I prefer to be honest, although you do need to be careful about laughing at the second type of funny, as this will sometimes cause her to look confused, and a little hurt.
For example, this weekend, my parents came to visit me. We did a number of touristy things, which was great, because I’ve lived here long enough now that I feel weird about doing that stuff without an excuse. Also, some of the touristy stuff is disturbing. Like, we went to look at Ground Zero. That should not be a tourist attraction. But it is. I suppose the people who lived around Gettysburg were pretty horrified by all the foot traffic there directly afterward, as well.
Anyway, while we were there, we ran into a coworker of mine, who was showing a friend of hers around the city. Her friend was from France. This delighted my mother, who is a Francophile and goes to Paris as much as possible. So they chattered in French, and then, in English, my mother said, “Well, you must come see Boston some time. Have you ever been?”
No, he hadn’t been.
“It’s the best city in the world, next to Paris. You’ll have to come visit, and when you do, you can stay with us!”
The French guy looked bewildered. “I can stay with you?”
He looked at me. “Americans are so friendly!” he said. “This would never happen in Paris! We would never ask a stranger to stay with us!”
I thought there were plenty of strangers in Paris who would have liked me to stay with them, but I decided to keep that to myself.
“That’s not Americans,” I said. “That’s my mother.”
And she beamed. See? Funny on accident.
Funny on purpose? As we were walking away, we saw one of those dogs with obvious and disturbingly exposed genitalia, and my mother whispered, “Jennie, that dog doesn’t have any underpants.”