Cate’s Laughlines

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Cate’s Laughlines

Entry 3: A Bad Sign

A bad sign
My mother is a wonderful person, but she has a signage habit. Give her a Sharpie, an index card, and a message and she’s got her fix. She labels everything and always underlines it not once, but twice. Always.

Brownies, for instance. She’ll call and say she’s made brownies, and why don’t I come by and get some? I arrive to find a pile of brownies on the counter, wrapped in six layers of Saran Wrap (nuclear plant safety technicians have nothing on my mother when it comes to insuring impermeability) and on top of the pile, affixed with masking tape (another Ma favorite) is an index card. It says:

Brownies for Cate

The words are underlined twice. Always are.

Is she expecting other people to pick up brownies? Nope. Just me.

My husband once leaned back while sitting on one of her dining room chairs, the set being a wedding gift and so old the wood had fossilized. So, no wonder, we heard a crack when he leaned back.

“Oh my,” said my mother, her one and only expletive, and she took the chair, placed it against the wall, and out came the index card, the Sharpie and the masking tape.

This chair is broken.

That chair and that sign stayed there for two years, until my husband was so tired of being silently rebuked every time he visited, he kidnapped the chair, took it to his garage workshop, fixed it, and returned it to my mom’s.

The index card is still hanging in his workshop.
“This chair is broken”

The signage isn’t restricted to index cards. She once carved numbers on the crust of three of her meat pies, so I could ‘track’ the pies as I warmed them in the oven. She was there in my kitchen when I unwrapped the first one. Of course it took me a while, given all that Saran Wrap, and there on the crust I saw this:


What the hell is that? “Ma, what’s this?”

“That’s the number 4.”

“It doesn’t look like a 4.”

“Well, I have to use roman numerals. They’re easier to carve into the crust.”

“So, Ma,…You numbered the pies so I wouldn’t be confused when I rotated them in the oven, right?”


“And this is the number four?..”


“…And I have three pies?”

“Oh my. Well, I must have given one of them to someone else.”

“So I could have IV, II and I? Or IV, III and I? Or other endless combos?”

“Oh my.”

Our recent “Great Sleeping Bra Debate” also involved signage: three bras on her dining room table, with index card (“Bras for Cate”).

She explained she had bought the wrong size and did I want these three sleeping bras? Sounded good, but I had to ask – what’s a sleeping bra?
She explained it’s a bra you wear when you sleep, “to keep you in place, so you won’t sag.”

Since I rarely run in place when I sleep, I didn’t think full-figure support was all that crucial, and frankly, when it came to sagging, the ship had sailed, or the boobs had dropped or whatever. And to get even more graphic, after nursing two kids, I pretty much was at the stage when I could use one of my breasts as a pillow, so why would I want a sleeping bra?

Oh my.

Entry 3: You’re A Woman Now. Meet the President!

In my eagerness to mark the occasion of my daughter’s first period, I inadvertently forever tied the ‘great event’ to former President Bill Clinton. Yes indeedy.

I didn’t plan on it, but hell, it was presidential primary season, and in our state, you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a presidential candidate.

And I wanted my daughter’s entry into the “world of women” to be more memorable than mine. I only remember starting my period by fits and starts – Is that blood? Is it supposed to be brown? What the heck?

And when I did finally start officially, I told my mom, who told my dad, who told the entire extended family at a reunion barbecue. Yes, he announced it, after a few slugs of Canadian Club, and as I walked onto the patio to ask my mom for the bottle opener, there was my dad, addressing the crowd, winding up what I’m sure was a very dramatic presentation by concluding, “….and now, she’s a woman.”

Things were going to be different for my daughter. First, no telling Dad anything. Second, no giant Kotex pad to wear with that terrible elasticized belt, which we had to use back in the days before they invented Tang and the adhesive strip.

And most importantly, the ‘big day’ was going to be upbeat and fun, so off we went to go shopping and maybe shoot the works by stopping at the local drive-thru for a McFlurry.

We drove to the local ATM, and crowding the bank parking lot was a fleet of police cruisers and two big black SUVs. I thought someone had robbed the place, but then I saw balloons and a crowd of kids with “I Love Hillary” t-shirts. I suggested to Jenn we check out the excitement, and as we stood about 20 feet away, here comes Hillary, her peach-colored pantsuit the same color as her perfectly coiffed hair, walking over to the teens, waving, smiling, posing for a quick picture, and then she hopped into one of the SUVs.

“Hey, Jenn, pretty exciting, huh?” Then I spotted Bill, strolling over to the teens, smiling that “forgive me for anything” smile, and as he turned toward the other SUV, I channeled that old lady reporter, Helen What’s-Her-Name, and yelled out, ”Mr. President!”

I can admit now that I never voted for this guy, and thought the entire Monica episode was shameful, but heck, he had been the president, with his hand on the but-, uh, the whatever,…and here he comes, toward Jenn and me, smiling that smile and offering his hand.

We chatted briefly, I think. I told him I thought my bank was being robbed. He said “Ha ha,” or words to that effect. And no, I didn’t tell him my daughter was now a woman. This was Bill Clinton, after all — I’m not totally nuts. And then off he went.

Jenn and I walked back to the car, and I said, “Wow! Wasn’t that exciting!?! Let’s call someone! Let’s call Dad, or Grandma and tell them we met Bill Clinton!!” And she says, “Yuh, Mom, sure…Uh, Mom?”

“Yes, Jenn?” I said, convinced I had given her a very special menstrual moment.

“Uh…Who was that again?”

Entry 2: ‘Dog Posse’ – April 21st, 2010

We have three dogs, thanks to my husband’s morning habit of reading the classifieds. He reads the ad, I make a call, and boom! We end up with a dog.

Millie was the first. A Cairn Terrier, the blonde version of Toto, Millie was being sold at the ‘old age’ of three by a kennel owner after she had popped out a couple of litters. Bargain basement price, said the ad, so we jumped in the car. Poor Mil. She came waddling out to meet us and I could relate to this poor thing. Have a couple of litters and you’re past your prime and out the door. Yes, this mother of two could relate to this mutt – she was overweight (check), bulging belly (check), stretched out tits (check and check), bald patches (not yet, thank god). We carried her to the car, and she repaid our rescue by barfing on the back seat.

Today, Millie is slimmer, trimmer, and the other woman in my husband’s life. I find blonde hairs on his sweaters, have to move her off our bed at night, and she follows him so closely she literally bumps into him when he stops walking. It’s gotten so bad, I told him the standing rule is to leave the bathroom door open when he gives her a bath.

The second addition was Wentworth. Another ad, placed by a woman forced to move to an apartment due to her husband’s illness. Went’s a Westie, and we thought he and Millie would make a nice pair. When I showed up to look him over, the owner broke down in tears as she described her relationship with him. “He’s my best friend,” she wailed, as her poor husband sat quietly at the kitchen table, looking left out. And before I knew it, the woman was shoving his leash and a bag of dog biscuits at me – despite the fact another woman, a widow living alone in a beach house, had expressed an interest. I didn’t think I stood a chance against a widow (undivided attention) and a house on the beach (location, location, location), but there I was, with Went riding shotgun, on the way home. He, too, threw up on the ride home.

Luckily, he and Millie got alone well, but he has a bad habit of ‘marking’ in the house – the corner of our bed and occasionally the northeast leg of the dining room. He is fixed, which is supposed to help in terms of curbing the peeing thing, but in this case, he’s such an alpha male (or a stupid dope, which I guess is the same thing), he doesn’t know he’s missing equipment.

Our third addition is Scout, a Great Pyrenees mix we found on a farm, and who also threw up on the car ride home. She’s a big dog, so just imagine a piece of furniture moving through your house, eating your other furniture. Chair rungs, rugs, patio furniture and clothes: she grabs socks, underwear, anything – wanders the house with them and drops them anywhere. My daughter’s basketball jersey in the middle of the living room, My son’s sock in the bathroom, my bra in my son’s room (please tell me Scout was responsible for THAT one).

She and Went and Mil make quite a trio – a circus act in the making – and it’s been a wonderful ride, despite all that dog vomit. We’ve come to consider the upchucking a kind of a welcome-to-the-family tradition.

To Learn More about Cate Drew and read previous Laughline Entries visit Cate’s LaughLines Archive