Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Some things just sort of creep up on you. You know how it is: you look at the calendar and suddenly, it's almost Christmas. Or you realize you forgot about your nephew's birthday. Worse, you pull out those navy pants now that it's fall and the waistband is a leetle bit tight. Where did those pounds come from? You didn't think you ate quite that many Lay's Classic potato chips right from the bag, but it looks like you did. This morning, a new grey hair is glinting at you from your bangs. And the habit that your husband has of leaving the room and leaving the remote for the TV in his chair across the room is now grounds for divorce. It's this kind of stuff that can lurk in the dusky margins of your life quite innocuously for oh, so very long, until one day, any one of them can be The One Thing that it takes to make you stop and Re-evaluate Your Life.

Readers, I've had That Moment. And I am going to share it with you. It was when I realized that Google had replaced my mother.
Oh, I can hear your anguished cries. Your ragged gasps. Your wailing and gnashing of teeth.

All that crap.

Er, lamentation.

Imagine my own dismay. But we all know that the first step on the Road to Recovery is knowing that you have a problem, and once I identified the problem, I knew I was on the way to solving it.

For years now, my mother has been crabbing at me about how I never call her and that she always has to be the one to call if we are ever going to talk at all. This is true. I won't deny that. My aversion to the telephone is well-known. I am not a Social Telephone Talker. To me, a telephone is a Necessary Communication Device, such as: "Hello? Yes, this is Nance. I will be there to meet you at 11:00 A.M. What should I wear, heels or flats? Thank you. Goodbye."

But my mother, who loves to chat on the telephone, cares not for my excuse. "I am your mother," she reminds me. "Don't you think I'd like to hear from you?"

Honestly, my reply in my head is, "Not really. Jared is away at college, and Hell be damned sure he doesn't really want to hear a whole lot from me. Sam is at the junior college and then goes to work and has his cell phone and he never ever checks in, even under penalty of death or vacuuming, so he doesn't want to hear from me. So, no, Mom. I can't imagine why you'd want to hear from me." But, do I say that aloud? Oh, heavens no. She's 78 and she can't really take it, I don't think. (Although...she is pretty tough, and she did raise me, after all. But, I'm more like my father was. But I digress.)

What I really say is, "Oh, Mom, I'm sorry. You know how I hate the phone. It's easier if you just call me. It's not like I'll hang up on you for heaven's sake."

And then she aims really low and pushes the classic Guilt Button: "You used to call me a lot more often."

And I realize that this is true. It really is. I used to call her tons more often. Tons. I'd be doing my crossword puzzle and call her and say, "Hey, Mom! What was the name of the guy who...?" and she'd know it if it was, say, from the 1920s through the 1960s, or in American history at all. Or, I'd call her from the lounge at school if we were trying like crazy to think of the name of some actor who was in an old movie that we were talking about or the words to an old song from the forties. Or let's say I was teaching an American novel that had a reference to an old product, like Ipana in it. I'd call her up and say, "Mom, what in the heck is I-P-A-N-A and how do you pronounce it, even?" And she'd get all excited and tell some bigass story about it from her childhood and even sing a jingle from the radio for it.


Not anymore.

Now...I have Google.

Let's face it: Google has made my mother obsolete. Who needs Patsy June when I have Google? It's faster and it's more complete. AND--I ask Google one question and get one answer. I don't have to also hear about grandchildren, my brother and sisters, my uncles and aunts, or any aches and pains. It's strictly business and one-way. Google is less involved.

Google replaced my mother.

Now that I've identified my problem, I think I've actually embraced it. I'm not even sure it's a problem anymore. Thanks for all your help! You guys are the best!


  1. You're pretty good on the phone with me, those four or five times out of the year that I call you. But then again, if you only spoke to your mother four or five times a year, you'd probably have more to say to her too.

    The problem I have is that I generally have many very short conversations on my phone. While I'm walking to class. While I'm waiting in line for lunch. While I'm cooking. Whenever someone calls me and I have a few free seconds. But my mother wants to have a nice half hour conversation. I just don't have time for that often, and she ends up feeling like I'm too busy for her. It's not that I'm too busy for her - it's that I'm too busy to have a half 30 minute with anyone. Well, anyone I talk to so regularly.

  2. Sometimes I really do wonder how we survived without Google or Wikipedia. I hope you spoke to your mom tonight ... or maybe tomorrow. ; )

  3. I still talk to my mom pretty regularly, like last night I think she called me, oh 3 times? Haha. She is terribly bad at ending a phone call/letting a phone call end. I'll have to say "Okay, Mom, I'm going to let you go now" at least 3-5 times every phone call. When I need something cooking-wise that I know my grandma knows, I call her. I'm going to miss that when it's gone!

    In regards to your post (and not just my own story), I did not gasp when you said Google replaced your mom. I laughed. Is that bad?

  4. Anonymous11:55 AM

    Will you send Google flowers on Mother's Day? You should.

    I hate to MAKE phone calls, but I'm not adverse to talking on the phone with pals.

  5. Ha. My mom's long gone, but she, too, was a walking encyclopedia. She had read our entire town library and remembered everything she read and heard--from my great-grandma's recipes to the Victorian vaudeville songs she learned in childhood from her mom. Oddly, I really miss the weird, passive-aggressive little phone game we used to play. For some reason she would only call me when she was in the mood to pick a fight. When I refused to engage in argument, she would get REALLY mad and then hang up on me. (I'll never understand what urge that satisfied.) I wish she would still call and hang up on me. Actually, I'm surprised she doesn't still do it from the great beyond! Google can never replace that.

  6. You know, I remember the Encyclopedia Brittanica that my parents had on a bookshelf in the laundry room and reading it all the time. But it was nowhere near as accessible as Google.

    You could call me and we could just have a one-sided conversation, because I can talk a blue streak.

  7. i.h.--Well, thanks! Usually, you call me from such incredibly interesting locations that we automatically have something to talk about right off.

    anali--thanks for adding to my guilt. LOL. no, i didn't, but i will. pretty soon. probably.

    jenomena--i'm glad you laughed. i wanted you to! and i totally get you about the neverending goodbyes. once, rick counted how many times i tried the, "Okay, Mom, well, I'm going to let you go..." start of a goodbye in one conversation. It was EIGHT. she's a real hanger-on, is Patsy June.

    v-grrrl--google doesn't appreciate me as much as my mother. hmmmm...

    sputnik--my mother avoids all confrontation. i am nothing like her. lol.

    gina--you would have to call me.

  8. Anonymous5:59 PM

    Wait...wait...you say she tells you that you "used to call her more often than you do now"? Are you absolutely SURE we're not talking aboy my mother? Because I get this sad story a lot!

  9. When we were first married my mother wanted to make sure I had "plenty of space" and only called when there was something wrong. I'm still hard-wired into this mindset: She just called tonight and the first thing I said was "Is something wrong?" "No!" She snapped, "Why do you always say that? I just wanted to talk!" I can wash all the dishes and clean out the refrigerator trying to get her off the phone these days.

  10. Anonymous10:54 PM

    Great post! I came to visit from Gina's blog. I was actually going to try and be funny and leave you a long rambling post about nothing because you said you never get them. I didn't have the heart to spoof on you. Ooops, wait, I did leave a long winded comment.
    Seriously, I loved the post and will be back to visit. ;)

  11. chris--oh, thank you, and welcome to the Dept.! your comment is much appreciated and is not long-winded at all. besides, i prefer the term "chatty." ;-) hope to see you here often!

    j.--please have all your mom's calls forwarded to you here so that you can clean my stove. it's hideous.

    wordgirl--i think that ploy is in the Handbook for Mothers over the Age of 60. i've already told rick that when i get mine, he's to burn it.

  12. Anonymous7:37 PM


    I used to hate asking my Dad what time it was because I would get one hour of how they make a watch!!

    I wish I could ask my Dad what time it is now.........

  13. Nancy--Boy, can I tell you are someone's mom. I can feel the Dispensing of Guilt from here. LOL.
    (Did you read my post labels? ;-) )

  14. "You wonder where the yellow went, when you brush your teeth with Pepsodent..." (Aw, go look it up on Google...)


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