Listen to Her Mother
by Juliet Siler
Oh, how I laughed. OY, how I laughed. To use Amy's mother's word, I laughed
so hard I pished on the sofa (just a drop).
What caused this itty bitty accident? "Amy's
Answering Machine, Vol. 1": a CD compilation of 28 messages from
ad gal/funny lady Amy Borkowsky's mother, recorded for posterity, with brief
commentary by Amy herself. I know, it doesn't sound promising. "This
is funny?" I hear you ask. "I live in fear of my mother's
messages -- for this I should buy an entire CD of them?"
Ah, but this is Amy's mother, not yours. And Amy's mother is a
treat. First: the voice. Amy's mother has The Great Jewish Voice -- maternal,
heavy Noo Yawk accent, real ear candy. My words cannot possibly do justice;
her voice must be heard, savored, bathed in (hygiene's important to her,
Second: the neuroses. Ach, the mishigas. As we all know, the lines
between Jewish mothers and daughters tend to get a little, er, blurry (thus
the non-blurry therapy bills). True to form, nothing about Amy's life is
beyond her mother's concern, even down to bodily functions ("if you
haven't already left to go to the Motor Vehicles Department, keep in mind
that the wait is very long, so before you get in line, you may want to empty
your bladder. All right, honey?").
But the reason we end up loving Amy's mother is that under the worrying,
the nudging, and the nosiness, lies a Jewish Mother in the best sense --
an active, energetic, loving woman who channels her considerable energies
toward A Better Life for My Daughter. And she does this in the way that
we Jews know best: she makes the world her business. Amy's mother is a woman
fundamentally engaged with the world around her. She listens to the news,
she reads the paper, she chats with the woman on the bus, and she doesn't
hesitate to share her findings ("they're saying the foam earpiece on
portable headphones is a prime breeding ground for bacteria, so if you still
insist on walking around with the headphones on, you may want to take an
antibiotic, okay honey?"). (Got that, BG?)
Sure, she expresses her love somewhat...intrusively. Many of us are single,
but not all of us have mothers who would call the Maury Povich show to inquire
about the millionaire bachelors on the last segment. But Amy's mom doesn't
just sit on her tucchus -- she's a doer. How can we not respect her? In
Amy's mother's world, What To Do is never in question. One learns of a grim,
heretofore unconsidered possibility (a woman's underwire bra set off an
airport metal detector; she is frisked for hours); one figures out how this
new data point relates to one's loved ones (Amy's going on a trip!); and
one takes appropriate steps (alert Amy). But just as a good guest
never arrives empty-handed, so a good mother never calls without a solution:
in this case it might behoove Amy to go braless, even for a day.
Breakup Girl, do not let Breakup Mom hear this, or you will never be
permitted to complain about her again. Compared to Amy's mother, she could
be charged with neglect.
Is Amy's mother nosy? Yes. Inappropriate? Perhaps. But one could also
say that this is proactive, practical advice for an insane planet. It's
a crazy world out there -- we should all be so lucky to have someone worrying
about us. Fortunately, you can get a healthy, finite dose of worry whenever
you like -- just put in the CD and laugh 'til you ... well, would that Amy's
mom had warned my to empty my bladder before listening.
Juliet Siler writes and plays music in San Francisco. She thanks
her mother for worrying about her.
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