Two breakfasts with Mom

 leftovers & links 
Sunday, March 12, 2023

Last Saturday's breakfast with the family was most peculiar. I have a new job, which is good news, but I didn't and don't want to share the good news at breakfast. So I didn't.

Do I need to explain why? Guess so, because I'm weird and so's the family dynamic, but it's a long story...

Any time I tell my mother anything about my life, she finds a way to weaponize it, turning it into something unpleasant, like the last time I told her I'd found a job. She wants to know everything about what's going on in my life, but anything she knows she throws back at me, and after a lifetime of that, I try to say as little as possible about my life.

It's an un-fun game we both play. She asks the same questions over and over, and I sidestep them almost every time.

Many years ago, before I moved away, Mom used to call me at work far too often — often enough that the boss complained, and Mom's calls became an office joke. "It's your Mom again, on line two." And sometimes she'd surprise me by showing up at my workplace just to talk, or take me to lunch.

Maybe normal moms do that. I wouldn't know about normal, but I hated it, and asked her not to call so often, not to pop into the office unexpected. Asking was a waste of breath, so I stopped giving Mom my work number, or telling her where I worked.

Mom's resourceful, though. She was able to ferret my work number from friends or other family members, and still called too often at work. At two different jobs, when I hadn't even told her where I work, she came to my workplace. "Uh, Doug, your mother is at the reception desk." 

Coincidentally, I later moved to California, and letting my mother know where I was slipped my mind.

I prefer choosing what she knows about me, so last Saturday at breakfast, instead of telling her about my new job on Millionaires' Island, I told her what I hadn't told her a month ago — that I'd been hired at the Post Office.

It was slightly surreal, answering her barrage of questions about that job — a job I quit after only a few days — as if that was the new job I'd just started, instead of saying anything about the job I'm actually working.

I wrote the above, about last Saturday's breakfast, just before going to this week's breakfast, so I showed up in a bad mood.

Exasperating me further, before she'd even sat down at the table, Mom pulled two stapled pieces of paper out of her purse and handed them to me. It was the police report from when I was "found."

Guess I gotta go into the backstory of that. Sigh.

For many years I was intentionally out of touch with the family. Mom had filed a missing persons report on me, which came up blank.

By the 2010s I was living in Wisconsin with my wife, and when I was involved in a minor fender-bender, the police officer ran my driver's license through their enormous Orwellian database. My name popped up as a missing person, and the cop told me they'd be reporting my whereabouts — name, address, phone number, the works — to my mother.

My wife and I tried to talk the cop out of ratting on me, but he said it was the law, which still seems wildly wrongheaded to me.

So the police notified my mother, and she called, and we had a nice conversation on the phone.

And then she called again, and called over and over again. When I asked her to call maybe once a week instead of twice daily, she left at least twenty messages on my answering machine in one afternoon. That's when I turned the answering machine off, and the ringer.

My phone still doesn't ring, but now we're back in touch, and I like having Mom and the family in my life again. Honest, I do. Pretty sure I would've chosen it, and eventually reconnected with the Hollands on my own — but being fingered by the government angered me when it happened, and still angers me now.

What if you're an abused wife, or an escaped cultist? What if you're on the run from someone truly dangerous, not merely annoying like my mom can be? You run, they file a missing persons report, and when you pop onto the radar anywhere in America, the cops immediately tell your address and everything else to anyone who's asked?

Mom says the same things at breakfast every Saturday that she said the previous Saturday, and one of her recurring riffs is that I was missing for so many years (though the number of years varies from week to week — last week it was 13 years, today it was 17).

She loves telling me how the cops contacted her several times, sending pictures of unidentified corpses that fit my general description, and she'd say no, that's not my boy Douggie. And a few months later they'd contact her about some other corpse.

Having heard this a hundred times, I understand that it wasn't fun for her. Hearing about it isn't fun for me, but she tells me about it every Saturday at breakfast.

So that's the backstory, and then yesterday Mom plopped that old paperwork in front of me — the report from the Missing Persons Bureau telling her I'd been found, and listing everything from my address to my license plate number — like, oh, this will be fun to talk about over breakfast.

She was visibly disappointed when I only glanced at the paper long enough to see what it was, then pushed it back at her and said, "I don't care about that." Another lie, of course — I do care — I'm still pissed off about being ratted out by the cops.

"I thought you'd be interested," she said, and again started telling me the story of the ☐ 11 ☐ 13 ☐ 15 ☑ 17 years when I was "lost."

"Well, he said he isn't interested," my sister Katrina said, and from her tone I knew that they'd already talked about the police report, and that Katrina had tried and failed to convince Mom not to bring it, and not to bring it up at breakfast. 

Instead, we mostly talked about my new job at the Post Office, which I quit a month ago, and which in another month or so I'll tell her I quit. 

News you need,
whether you know it or not

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A Louisville police officer let his dog attack a 14-year-old Black child who was not resisting. As the dog 'gnawed' on the child's arm, the officer said 'stop fighting my dog,' DOJ said 

Republicans are trying to roll back child labor regulations 

Republican-controlled Kentucky Senate passes bill to limit drag shows

Three Texas women are sued for wrongful death after allegedly helping friend obtain abortion medication

Ex-intern sues Idaho lawmakers for harassing her after rape 

Former Trump lawyer admits false statements, is censured by judge, then gets upset because people are calling her a liar 

Mystery links
There's no knowing where you're going






My browser history
without the porn

Western media dumps stories on Nord Stream sabotage shifting blame from US 

The scale of local news destruction in Gannett's markets is astonishing 

Waiting for Brando: The epic saga of a disastrous 1961 film production of the Iliad 

♫♬  It don't mean a thing  ♫
if it don't have that swing

Calling out My Name - Del Shannon 

Everyday People — Joan Jett & the Blackhearts 

If I Can Dream — Elvis Presley 

My Only Offer — Mates of State 

25 or 6 to 4 — Chicago 

Eventually, everyone
leaves the building

Jesús Alou 

Raphael Mechoulam 

Napoleon XIV 

Rick Scheckman 


Cranky Old Fart is annoyed and complains and very occasionally offers a kindness, along with anything off the internet that's made me smile or snarl. All opinions fresh from my ass. Top illustration by Jeff Meyer. Click any image to enlarge. Comments & conversations invited.  

Tip 'o the hat to ye olde AVA, BoingBoing, Breakfast at Ralf's, CaptCreate's Log, Harm City Hearld, Looking for My Perfect Sandwich, One Finger Medical, Two Finger Magical, Miss Miriam's Mirror, Nebulously Burnished, RanPrieur.com, Voenix Rising, and anywhere else I've stolen links, illustrations, or inspiration.  

Special thanks to Linden Arden, Becky Jo, Wynn Bruce, Joey Jo Jo, John the Basket, Dave S, Name Withheld, and always extra special thanks to my lovely late Stephanie, who gave me 21 years and proved that the world isn't always shitty.


  1. "She loves telling me how the cops contacted her several times, sending pictures of unidentified corpses that fit my general description, and she'd say no, that's not my boy Douggie. And a few months later they'd contact her about some other corpse."

    This may be the single most remarkable thing you've ever written about your mother. Good sweet lord almighty.

    1. I worked in legal/litigation copying in Seattle in the early 2000s, and occasionally we'd have to make color scans of unclaimed, mangled bodies on train tracks, that sort of thing.

      Who knew? I may have been helping the law help your mother not find her son.

    2. I'm sure she'd appreciate your efforts. Less sure that she's ever found her son.

  2. It was a kick in the pants to see all three Alou brothers as they passed through Tacoma on their way to San Francisco. They were more than just a brother act: they were smallish for baseball players at the time, and they brought smallball to Tacoma, then to San Francisco. Nobody called it that until some guy from Japan started breaking Major League records 20 years ago, but that was what they were doing, and doing well.

    Doug, I really appreciate your obits section. I don't live on the Web, and I would have missed this one if not for you.


    1. I sadly never saw any of the Alous play ball, except on TV. Three brothers in left, center, and right field, though. That's pretty cool.

      It's a cliché that old people live to read the obituaries, and I do find the lives and deaths more interesting as the end of mine comes closer. Glad you dig the obits, too.

  3. M. Claude said it better than I would have. In the words of the Alou brothers, "Jesús".


    1. I don't even know what the word is for that little twig over the u, but you gotta respect those iddy-biddy doodads.

      When I lived in Kansas City, the Royals hired Tony Peña as manager, and THE KANSAS CITY STAR newspaper didn't have ñ in its typeset. They always called him Tony Pena, which wasn't his name.

      There was some minor bruhaha about it which should've been a much bigger bruhaha in my opinion.

  4. I've been carrying this around for 55 years as an example of concise, descriptive language. I'm sorry I lost the name of the player who said it, but he was a Hispanic gentleman who played for the Dallas franchise of the old North American Soccer League in its first year (1968).

    He spent his signing bonus on a new Porsche, which he totaled on his second day of ownership while he was trying to figure out how to change the station on the car radio. He was somehow uninjured, and appeared the next day before whatever press was covering Futball in Dallas at the time. When asked what the heck happened, the player, to whom both Porsches and English were new experiences, answered, "I drive. Musica, musica, musica. Boom."

    It would have taken me three pages of text. Beautiful.


    1. Oh man, that's beautiful. I larfed for ten seconds straight.

  5. It's fiction. Why tell your crazy (but not crazy) mom you quit? Why not a lateral transfer, delivering to the most dangerous parts of Seattle (I used to live there, but I left in 1974 because it was too fucking crowded, so I don't know which neighborhoods are dangerous). Great stories of breathtaking escapes from imported guard dogs and dark-skinned immigrants. Tying mail to a rock and throwing it at a porch, rather than risking crossing paths with the panther that patrols the grounds. Stumbling upon a craps game in which the stakes are human fingers, and barely making it out with most of your toes.

    Hell, your mom is a fabulist; maybe you inherited some of her talent. Hell, you're a fine writer of non-fiction. Just ignore the facts and become part of the family again, at least in style.

    And it would be a great challenge for your imagination: lost in the urban jungle of whatever comprises "downtown Seattle" these days, delivering mysterious packages to clearly illegal businesses in the basements of five dollar hotels . . . rushing still-beating hearts packed in cardboard cartons to waiting recipients in the city's semi-legal private hospitals. The limits are those of your dreams, or in this case, nightmares. You could entertain and frighten the family for years. Just don't give out your work number.


    1. I love the vibe of your suggestion, but since I wasn't involved with delivery I wouldn't know enough details to make up a plausible story.

      I could definitely make up some stories of shenanigans on the sorting floor where I worked, though. I could have people throwing "fragile" packages at each other, playing bocce with packages, reading magazines and clipping the coupons, or just burning random envelopes...

      San Francisco had some dangerous neighborhoods, but I'm not sure Seattle does. We have the black part of town around Rainier Beach, but I've been there a lot and never found it scary; and we have the ghastly hobo villages of Third Avenue downtown, but it's just sad, not risky to health or life.

      At least, that's been my impression, but of course I'm a big man. Might feel different if I was a skinny young woman, and if I was I'm would definitely enjoy feeling different.

    2. Dougles, it's not the reality of the situation: it's How your Mom perceives it. Does she think there are scary parts of Seattle? I'm not saying she's at all racist. I just think she might spend less time with the Black members of her congregation than the white folks. Most Black neighborhoods look dangerous to white people who haven't spent much time around Black folk. Just sayin'.


    3. And in the spirit of making sure the horse is dead, everybody THINKS they know what a postal carrier does. He/she fills their bag with sorted mail and goes from house to house in their delivery area filling mail boxes, then goes back for another load. I'm sure it's more complicated than that, but I'll bet I could concoct some stories about being chased by wolverines (or Wolverine) and having to run the 440 hurdles over a series of white picket fences back to the truck or the local distribution center.

      I'm sure the job is more complicated than that, but non-carriers aren't going to realize that.

      Bueno, el caballo está muerto.


    4. The horse ain't dead or even limping, so there's plenty of time to lay out a trail.

      I worked a lot of jobs during the ☐ 11 ☐ 13 ☐ 15 ☑ 17 years I was away, lot of stories to be told before anything much needs to be made up.

    5. This all reminds me of the time I told my parents I had an assignment to interview Spike Lee (I never did and wouldn't know the first thing to ask him) in Bed-Stuy in Brooklyn and that I was contemplating whether to drive in and risk having my car stolen or taking the subway and risking my life walking the streets in the "bad" neighborhood.

      My parents had a ridiculous idea of NYC, caused by too much time watching network news (no cable, thank satan!) and having not set foot in the city in decades. I don't remember what I told them I'd settled on, but just thinking of how seriously they treated by imaginary quandary cracks me up and feels somehow related to the generation gap you're experiencing here, along with the reality gap.

      And Doug, what did ever happen to that nice girl you met when you were 14? -- Arden

    6. Did you follow through on the lie, and tell them you'd spent an afternoon with Mr Lee, an about the great peril you endured crossing the wilds of Brooklyn?

      If we're talking about the girl at summer camp (pause for a long sigh) she faded fast and I never saw her again.

    7. Nah, they forgot about it and I moved on to some other silly made-up adventure, most likely.

      I was just kidding about the girl. I was just paying tribute to your mom's amazing ability to keep bringing up things that happened decades ago as if they're current events. Cheers -- Arden

    8. > I moved on to some other silly made-up adventure, most likely.

      That's what we all do, all of our lives. Make it a good one if you can.


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