Hissy Fit - June 2022 - What’s for Lunch: And Other Things Not to Talk to Mom About

...because everyone needs one every once in awhile


June 2022 Issue
by Elizabeth Skenes Millen

I enjoy a good old-fashion telephone conversation. Sometimes when I’m visiting my mother, who has had the same house for 54 years, I’ll go to my childhood room and call my old friends on the rotary phone that’s still there. It’s just so vintage, so connecting. It’s always fun to sit on the floor, play with the coiled phone cord, and talk and laugh for an hour. However, there are a few things I can’t stand to talk about on the phone:

I don’t mind hearing about someone’s diet successes, or helping them get back on board if they’ve slipped a little, but I despise when people, namely my mother, tell me what she’s eaten for the last 14 meals… “On Monday, I had oatmeal for breakfast, with a half of grapefruit that I had to put a little sugar on to cut the tartness, and a cup of coffee with my vanilla creamer, but it’s fat-free, and just a bite of coffee cake, to go with the coffee, you know. Then for lunch…”

Oh good Lord, I’m dying here. It’s Friday and we’re only at Monday lunch. Inevitably, I know she’s going to tell me about Tuesday’s lunch, and then decide that was actually Wednesday’s dinner; I’m going to have to listen to her audibly juggle the meals around in her head until she is definite about what she had for lunch on Tuesday. No-one can hardly remember what they ate yesterday, so I begin desperately throwing out suggestions in hopes of conjuring up the recall and putting an end to this seemingly infinite, epicurean list from hell. Note to self: Never ask Mom what she had for lunch.

My mother enjoys going on home tours. So do I. What I don’t love is hearing about home tours I missed over the telephone. The conversation goes something like this: “It was beautiful. You walked in the front door and you could go right or left. If you looked straight ahead you saw the water. I went right first. No, I think I went left first. The master bedroom was beautiful. It had this silk flower arrangement that had these flowers that hung way over the bowl and draped down. It was just so pretty. In the kitchen there was this door, that looked like a cabinet, and you could open it, and the laundry room was huge. Anyway, I don’t really know how to explain it, but there was a game room with this built in thing that was so neat…”

“What time did you get home?” I ask, hoping to fast-forward the conversation beyond the next five houses she toured, which I’m sure also had cabinet doors that opened.

I was lucky enough to call my mother the other day right when she was trying to figure out what magazine to order for the Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes. Here’s how that conversation went:
Mom: “Do you get the publisher’s thing?”
Me: “You mean the Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes?” (It’s impressive that I knew what she was talking about, considering I am a publisher and get a lot of publisher things.)
Mom: “Yes, the sweepstakes. It says you can win $5,000 a week for life. Maybe you should enter it.
Me: “Yep, maybe I should.”
Mom: “I’m trying to figure out what magazine to order.”
Me: “Well, they say you don’t have to order a magazine to win.”
Mom: “I think your chances are better if you buy a magazine, don’t you?”
Me: “I don’t know, but why don’t you just get Better Homes and Gardens. You’ll enjoy that one. You love homes and gardens, especially the better ones.
Mom: “They have Forbes for seven dollars and 52 cents. They have Bird Watcher.
Me: “You don’t watch birds, Mom.” Do they have Better Homes and Gardens?
Mom: “They have Cosmopolitan, Parents, Country Living, Suu-dock-ah…don’t you like Suu-dock-ah?”
Me: “Yea, but not too much. Do they have Better Homes and Gardens? It’s good”
Mom: “Well, it says here that if I buy Forbes, I can pay in four payments of a-dollar-eighty-eight.
Me: I think you can handle the $7.52 all at once. Besides, I don’t think you’ll enjoy Forbes. It’s about business and you’re retired.
Mom: Well I’m just looking at whatever’s cheapest. Do you want one?
Me: I’d like Better Homes and Gardens. By the way, what did you have for lunch?

I love my mother so much, and she really is sharp as a tack. We talk on the telephone almost every day. Our last conversation was about how she couldn’t come visit because she has a hydrangea that wilts everyday; so she has to stay home to water it. I said, “I know the hydrangea will appreciate it, and I hope it takes you out to dinner.” She is a jewel, and the easiest person on earth to tease.
My dad was the biggest jokester on earth. When he was alive, he could push her buttons and really get her goat. She’ll get a kick out of this article: She’ll say, “You’re a do-bird”, in this cute little way where she twists her mouth and smiles
at the same time, and then she will quickly flip her hand backwards, pretending to slap me. And then we’ll both laugh!