I get it from her.
That woman who sat across the table from me.
It was 1979 and I was out to dinner with my father, sister and Mama Rose. The waiter took our order and as he walked away, my father leaned over to my sister and me and whispered “Our waiter looks like Barry Manilow.” We giggled, because he really did. Mama Rose’s antennae went up immediately.
“What? What are you whispering about?”
We looked at each other, knowing that our waiter would probably not be thrilled with our observation, and, frankly: “telegram, telephone, tell a Mama Rose”.
Dad didn’t even try to be tactful. “We can’t tell you because you have a big mouth”.
She pouted. “What? I won’t tell, I promise!”
“Nope.” And because this was 1979, he put an unfiltered Camel between his lips to seal the deal.
Mama Rose whined and cajoled throughout the entire meal, making empty promises of silence and good sense. Finally, she wore my father down.
“Okay, but if I tell you, you cannot repeat it.”
He told her. Whereupon she looked over at our approaching waiter, gasped and exclaimed, “You look just like Barry Manilow!”
His immediate sour expression spoke volumes, but it was nothing compared to the open-mouthed astonishment on our three faces. We simultaneously lit into her, demanding an explanation. All we got was “What? He looks like Barry Manilow!”
This is, and always has been, my mother’s modus operandi. If something is true, it will be said out loud. There is not only no filter between my mother’s brain and mouth, she has a small head, so a thought travels a very short distance before becoming a sentence.
But for all my mother’s oversharing expertise, I’ve done her one better: because I overshare in print. And have, also, since 1979.
My high school was doing the musical “Oliver!” that year and due to our diminutive statures and flat-chested boyishness, my friend Jayne and I had the parts of The Artful Dodger and Oliver, respectively. We were hanging out together a lot and at some point, we discovered (and laughed) in hushed tones that both of us had a slight issue with hair on our big toes. Well, I thought I would be clever and hilarious, so I put an personal ad in our school newspaper that said, “Dodge, meet you later to shave our toes. Ollie.” I laughed and laughed, imagining how much she would laugh when she saw it.
Except she didn’t.
In fact, she was quite put out that I had announced to our high school that we had hairy digits.
I lamely protested that I hadn’t used our real names, to which she retorted, “‘Dodge’?! And ‘Ollie’?! That’s your attempt at privacy?! Why didn’t you just say the two leads of the spring musical have bushy big toes!”
So… I guess the moral of this story is… if you resemble an odd-looking 70s pop star, or if you have to shave unmentionable parts of your body, and you don’t want someone to comment on or, uhhh, publish these facts… stay away from me and my mother.