Like most of them, my story is written under a pseudonym with all of the names changed. It’s about a former family member, an older woman I’ll call Laverne (though she has a different pseudonym in the book). I did not write about this woman’s talent for selecting the very thing a person does best and then attempting to compete with it, usually with amusing results—but she does that, too, especially with younger women. It’s an obvious need to assert her dominance, and Laverne is all about dominance.
For instance, she recently told my former sister-in-law about looking at colleges. The irony is that Laverne has never attended college herself or taken an interest in colleges, and to my knowledge she never took any of her children on college tours. But she does know that my West Coast sister-in-law has a son at Notre Dame and a son at Syracuse, is still traveling all over the country looking at more for her other two, and knows more about colleges than most paid advisors.
What’s funniest is that her facts sounded totally made up. Laverne doesn’t care. If she were part of a water buffalo herd being studied on Animal Planet, she would be that big old mean one that bites the others in order to remain top cow.
With me, Laverne’s issue usually involved words, although when I was eight months pregnant she told me—in her typically lofty manner—that my obstetrician was wrong when he told me that the baby got hiccups. She is fond of starting her sentences with, “No, honey….”
In honor of the book release, here is one of my favorite Lavernishments:
Laverne’s son Barry and I were sitting at Laverne’s kitchen table, and Barry was doing a crossword puzzle. Laverne was nowhere to be seen.
Barry asked me, “What’s a ‘kind of speech?’ Spelled, ‘c-a-n-blank.’” I told him I thought it was “t” for “cant.” That was when Laverne’s voice piped in from the other room, “No, honey, that doesn’t make sense!” I explained that I didn’t mean the contraction, “can’t,” but the word “cant.”
Laverne said, “No, honey, that’s not a word. It’s c-a-n-D. It’s short for ‘candor.’” Barry then asked me what a four letter word for “bovines” was. Started with “k.”
First I loudly suggested that he ask his mother. No answer. After a while, I quietly whispered, “’kine?”
That was when we heard the loud sigh from the other room. “No, honey, that’s not a word, either. It’s ‘oxen.’” Barry reminded her that the word started with “k.”
Laverne’s classic response? “Then it’s ‘cows.’ They’ve just misspelled it.”