I’ve always said that if I have inherited even one of my mother’s characteristics then my existence will not have been a waste.
My mother had numerous good qualities. She was patient, artistic, silly, poetic, loving, intelligent, beautiful, spiritual, unselfish, and Irish! (She was German too, but she always said only the boys in her family were German—the girls were all Irish.) She could whoop my behind in any crossword puzzle and could find on a map countries that I had never heard of.
Which, oh which, of these lovely attributes did I inherit? None, actually. (Except maybe a wee bit o’ the Irish.)
I ended up with her paranoia.
She didn’t call it that. “I’m just being careful,” she’d say. Carefulness is a good trait, right?
We would be shopping together at the grocery store, when I would see my mom at the other end of the aisle, flagging me down with a frantic wave. I’d scurry down the row, trying to get to her in a hurry, when I would notice that she was trying to discreetly signal me with her own brand of sign language—the combination of eyebrow raising and hand movements that clearly said, “Your purse is an open gaping maw beckoning would-be pickpockets to lift your week’s worth of grocery money.”
I would be tempted to duct tape my purse shut, just to make her feel more secure, but would resort to making a show of fastening the magnetic clasp instead. “Don’t you think you should wrap the strap around your hand? I’ve heard that thieves rely on the fact that your strap is just hanging loosely on your shoulder. If someone were to try to grab your purse, having your strap wrapped around your hand would just be one more deterrent.”
My mother actually said the following things:
· “Maybe you should wear a man’s hat when you drive at night. Men are less likely to stalk a woman if they think she is a man.”
· “I’m just calling to make sure you locked your door.”
· “Don’t hold your money in your hand. Someone could walk by and just grab it.”
· “Make sure you look under your car before you get in. Someone could be waiting underneath your car to grab your ankle.”
· “Have your keys ready in your hand in case you need to poke someone’s eye out.”
· “Don’t assume a cop is a cop. If you get pulled over at night in a secluded area, just keep driving to a well-lit area. He could be a fake cop trying to rape you.”
· “The clouds are really dark. I’m just calling to tell you to head to the basement.” (It’s a Midwest thing.)
· “You need to buy an extra-large pair of men’s boots and put them by your door. That way if someone thinks about breaking in, they might think twice.” (What if they steal the boots?)
My mother would be proud of me today. Even though I live in a rural area where people leave vehicles unlocked, I remain secure.
* I always lock my doors when I am home alone, even in mid-day.
* When I go to Wal-Mart, I always put my keys in my jeans pocket. That way if my purse gets snatched, I can still drive my car home. Fie on you, o would-be thief!
* I tell my son, “Stop holding your money in your hand where people can see it.”
* If I leave home without my cell phone, I will return home to get it (or have hubby bring it to me.) The day I don’t have my cell phone will be the day that I need to be a crime-stopper.
* I do not flash my high-beams at an oncoming car. That could be a signal to a gang member.
* I never put freshly ironed clothes in the closet or drawer. The heat could start a fire.
* At dark, I close all blinds and curtains in my house. I don’t want people seeing in when I can’t see out.
You might think that my mother was an ex-FBI agent or something, with her vast knowledge of how to foil the evil forces of the world.
Nope. She simply read The National Enquirer.