When Is A Door Not A Door?

When it’s ajar.

That my friends, is what we call a Randy joke. Randy tells the worst jokes on the planet and the worse the joke, the harder he laughs.

I do have a reason for telling that horrible Randy joke.

I have a Martha.

Everyone needs a Martha.

I’ve written a shit ton about my dad. I have written thousands of words about parental narcissism, but haven’t written much about my mother.

My mom is shy and sweet. She and I aren’t a lot a like.

My mom is blond with blue eyes. I take after my dad. Our personalities are mostly different, but in some ways, we’re two peas in a pod.

We’re both the tiniest bit flaky. It’s possible I’m misusing the word “tiniest”.

I am in no way suggesting that we’re stupid. Our brains often get ahead of us and when your brain has gone on to think about something else while not paying attention to the task at hand, well shit happens.

Sometimes, it involves breaking things. Or maybe burning things. A fuck ton of losing things. And sometimes, it’s just goddamn hilarious.

For example, Martha, my mom, is a Luddite. She hates technology.

She got her first cordless phone a few years ago. She finally got a cell phone, but you wouldn’t know it. She has never, even once, picked up her cell phone when I call. I don’t think she turns it on.

And a computer is right out. We tried to get her one. It didn’t work out.

Anyway, this hatred of technology goes way back. Back before we all had personal computers in our pockets.

One time, before I had even been married once, we were out with a few of her sisters.

I don’t remember what we were doing, but we were all in my mom’s youngest sister’s mini van. The mini van talked.

Martha hated the talking van. She thought the talking car was creepy and didn’t trust it.

When we were gathering up to go home after our outing, my aunts were lingering. Mom and I went to the parking lot to wait in the van.

I opened the sliding door to sit in the middle row. I left the door open, pulled the armrest up and sat with my legs hanging out the side. Mom got in the front passenger seat and closed the door.

The van said “Your door is ajar.”

Mom made an aggravated noise. “See? My door is not open.”

She opened her door and slammed it shut. The van said. “Your door is ajar.”

She turned around and looked at me. “How is this an improvement. The van thinks the door is open and it’s not.”

I was not about to point out that half my body was currently outside the van. I wanted to see if she’d open and close her door again.

She did.

Me: Hey mom?

Mom, super annoyed: What?

Me: What am I doing right now?


Me: I mean, really. Right this second. What specifically am I doing?

Mom: Sitting in my sister’s van.

Me: And am I completely in the van right now? Is my door, perhaps, ajar?



She laughed until her face was purple.

A lot of years have passed since then, but I still say “Your door is ajar” to my mother a couple times a year. She cracks up every time.

Then, she reminds me of the time I slowly poured grape juice all over myself. But that is a completely different story and, if my mom had a blog, she could tell you the story.

Today is my mom’s 79th birthday.

I called her on my commute home from work this afternoon to sing to her. She answered the phone by singing happy birthday to herself. So, instead of the traditional birthday song, I sang the Beatles birthday song to her.

We had a lovely conversation and when it was time to say goodbye, she said “You’re the tops. You’re the Mona Lisa.”

So, I told her she was the Mona Lisa and that made her happy.

My mom used to end her phone calls with “Peace and out”. I told her that usually, people just said “Peace out”. She said she liked her way better. I kind of do, too.

Quoting Cole Porter lyrics is a new one. I kind of like this as well. I mean, who doesn’t want to be the Mona Lisa?

I have the best Martha. She’s the tops.


Photo courtesy of M. Maggs



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  • Love this!

    Reminds me so much of my relationship with my mom (and my dad) and how they’re practical and how I ride unicorns and how it has taken me a lifetime to break them in and how now we just accept each other for our quirks (me) and non-quirks (them).

    Family dynamics. They make us. They break us. And then, after a little time and space, they make us again. Well done!

    And happy birthday to your mom!!!

  • Happy Birthday Michelle’s Mom!
    What a lovely tribute <3 …and a delightful intro segue 😀
    I happen to enjoy Randy's jokes… very easy on my 'get it?' meter 😉
    *kisses for the Good Daughter and Forgiving Wife*

  • Enjoy your mom every day you can. Quirks and Luddite things alike.

    I understand the cell phone thing. My parents finally got one. They never brought it with them. Maybe once. And it was turned off.

    Mom was pretty good with her computer. Well she could message and use FB. And find x-stitch sites in Chinese and guess what she was downloading. Better than Dad he hit porn sites all the time and couldn’t understand why he kept getting computer viruses.

    I have never had a car that talked to me. It would beep at me at best. At worst you would fall out the door. I blame my Dad for that one. He taught me how to disable the seatbelt beep at a young age.

    Perhaps that explains a lot!

    Happy Birthday to your Mom!

  • Awe, Happy Birthday to your Mom! Slowly poured grape juice on yourself? How the hell is that even possible? You cannot say something like that and NOT tell us! Please?

  • Happy Birthday to your Mother! My ex-sister-in-law’s Mother just turned 105! Time sure has a way of speeding away when you aren’t paying attention! Have a great lunch and I hope you all enjoy many more!

  • Happy birthday to your mother, and may she continue to be a Luddite for a very long time. We need more Luddites. They keep us grounded. They’re responsible for closing the door before the car starts moving. And, yeah, I get the irony of using the internet to praise Luddites.
    Anyway like so many others here I hope to hear about the grape juice incident, and I wish I could buy your mother a cup of coffee. Because you know when coffee isn’t coffee…

  • A very happy 70 to your mom, and may there be many more!
    A good friend of mine, who is my dad’s age, complained to me about her computer.
    “It’s all screwed up,” she said.
    “Do you think it’s a problem with your internet?” I asked.
    “No! She answered, “I don’t need the Internet! I’m just trying to check my email and my Facebook.”

  • I hope you at least had all of your arms and legs in the van before it started moving. They always told me to do that, and I have no idea why…
    Please tell your mom that I said happy birthday.

  • Randy may enjoy what I call The Best Joke Ever: A duck walks into a drug store and says, “give me a Chapstick and put it on my bill”

  • Happy happy birthday to Martha – I hope it’s been her best birthday ever !!
    That joke is a Dad joke too. It’s the sort of joke Alan will tell and Kaitlin will roll her eyes at and I will have to say , OK enough Al, otherwise he will just keep on with it over and over.
    Have the best evening my dear !!! xox

    • Haha..she has Alexa and LOVES it. Which is funny, because she hates all the other stuff. She likes getting music dialed up by her voice, she loves that part

By Michelle


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