Jewish mothers are a special kind of funny. I didn’t have one, to my great disappointment. My mother was a strict Catholic, another flavor of crazy mom entirely. More about that another day. But I was always envious of my Jewish friends because their mothers were so screamingly funny, so deviously passive aggressive, so brilliant, they made me laugh no matter what they were doing. (Come to think of it, they may have thought I was a little off. Oh, well.) It’s no wonder so many Jewish kids grow up to be comedians. It’s either that, or go mad.
Beloved got us a subscription to The New Yorker, my favorite publication since childhood. This may seem unrelated to the paragraph above, but bear with me. Every time something big happens, we run right out and buy the next issue, gorge ourselves on its contents, reading to each other with glee, finally framing the cover and hanging it on our wall. We’ve had subscriptions before, but the things always came in faster than I could read them, and then they’d pile up, and Beloved would start tapping her foot while staring at the pile and sighing. Eventually, I’d give up and throw them out, mostly unmolested. We agreed we wouldn’t subscribe again until we were retired. (We picture retirement as a wonderland filled with all the things we’ve never had time for. We may be disappointed.) Then out of a clear blue sky at breakfast, she announced she’d gotten a subscription from now until the election in November. Imagine my joy! I immediately started binge-reading on the website, but this piece stopped me dead, so to speak.
The piece, “Obituaries My Mother Wrote for Me While I Was Living in San Francisco in My Twenties,” is fantastically funny, and I thought it would be perfect for reading aloud at the table when you’re trying to get your beloved to do a spit take. I tested this theory with great success. Here’s a sample, though I’d like you to go to The New Yorker for the full piece. Definitely worth the click. I promise.
“Our hearts are broken as we announce the demise of our daughter Bess Kalb, twenty-seven, who was taken from us by a Lyft driver. And dismembered. Despite learning at the youngest possible age never to get into a strange man’s car, Bess, ever the techno-optimist, decided to enter her home address into an app, hop into a Hyundai, and hope for the best. The family would like mourners to treat Bess’s death as more or less a suicide.” -Bess Kalb for The New Yorker
I have a new favorite writer! Here’s the article. Don’t forget to share your spit-take successes in the comments!