Saturday, April 2, 2011


"Mom, if someone were to put a whoopee cushion on your seat in the car, would you lose your concentration and hit somebody?"

Berto had the aforementioned cushion in his hand and a smirk working on his face, trying to break its borders and become a full-fledged grin.

"No, that wouldn't cause me to get in an accident, son."

But now I knew what to expect when I got in the car to take the kids to school. I smiled as I turned away, but shortly afterwards I heard Miss Ana, my little girl, saying to Berto in a soft tone:

"I don't think we should do that. I don't think Mama's going to like it."

"It's okay, Ana," I said, glancing at the cushion that had already wiled away a great deal of before school free time. "I already told Berto he could."

"Now you've ruined it! Thanks alot, Ana," snarled Berto.

"Son, you really don't think I knew what you were up to when you said, 'Uh, Mama....uh, would you get in an accident if...uh...I put a whoopee cushion on your seat? Would you, Ma?' "

The kids and I laughed. Berto was flipping his frown and smile around every couple seconds, still feeling that Ana had given something valuable away.

I gave him every opportunity to still make a go of it. I unlocked the van from inside the house and said, "Guess you can go out and get in the car first, Berto." Then as I was buckling his little sister in and noticed there still was no whoopee cushion on my seat, I said, "Oh, what do I need to do over here?" and I wandered aimlessly around the van, looking up at the clear sky, down at the tires - anywhere save inside the vehicle, so Berto could feel he was taking full advantage of the situation and do what he needed to do. But he still waited until I was inside and seated, my bottom flattening out the bleacher mat I have there. I shrugged and prepared to turn the ignition when he came up with the silly thing. So I pulled up from my seat a few inches, grabbing the side handle over the window (the one you grip as a passenger if the car is taking a turn too fast or if you simply want to inform the driver without actually speaking the words that you think they are really terrible at controlling a vehicle. My husband grabs this regularly while I'm driving, tramping his bravado into dust in order to send a strong message about my vehicular operating skills.)

Anyway, Berto threw the whoopee cushion beneath my fanny, and I dropped down onto it to provide the morning's comedy relief when all that came out was a pitiful, "ptthmp". That in itself was hilarious, and we had a good laugh as I pulled out the thing to return it to my son, inspecting it for damage. I couldn't see any reason why it gave such a sorry performance, and it wasn't until Berto tried to blow it up again on the way to school that he exclaimed, "Mom, you broke it!"

"Oh, does it have a hole in it now? I wondered why it made such a pitiful noise. Man, what must I weigh to break a whoopee cushion?"

"800 pounds," supplied Berto resentfully. "And it was Papa's."

There was a grinding and clinking in my head as I remembered something I'd purposefully forgot.

"No, it was mine, Berto."


"It was mine. Grandpa and Grandma gave it to me. They always give me something kooky as a stocking stuffer each year."

This was sadly true. This year at Christmas I got Groucho Marx glasses accompanied by big fake plastic nose with nostril hair (see above photo). It had a little tag that said Hillary on it, or I would have felt there surely was some mistake. As I held it up with finger and thumb to examine it, I asked Matthew, my husband, why his parents always insist on giving me these unladylike trinkets for Christmas.

"I don't know," he replied with a hearty laugh, playing contentedly with the Matchbox car from his own stocking.

He gets the sweet little nostalgic toys like a slinky or little yellow Lamgborghini. I get the whoopee cushion, the same that I promptly threw into my son's closet in order to cut all ties of ownership, and Groucho Marx hairy nostrils.

It's giving me a complex really. I ask myself, just what are my parents-in-law trying to tell me? That they can't take me seriously? Or is it meant as a compliment to imply they think I'm really comic? Wait, is that a compliment? The most vital question is this, though, do their other sons' wives get similar gifts? Or am I...dare I say - special?

As I thought bitterly about these things, Berto was still blowing smoke about the whoopee cushion.

"Son, they're easy to replace," I said finally with exasperation.

"Can you go by the store and get one today?" he whined.

Of course I wasn't going to go buy myself a whoopee cushion. Why would I? I'll just wait for my in-laws to send me a new one this Christmas.

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