Your basic mother-son dialogue

My phone was telling me it was Mom calling, which meant it was going to be either my mother or my father, since they live together and still share a landline. They’re so cute. So I accepted the call, only to hear my mother call me a fuckwit-pussytard.

Immediately slipping into out-of-body mode, I heard myself say, “What?”

“I called him a fuckwit-pussytard after he called me a redneck,” she said.

One thing you have to know about my mother. It’s this social trait I’m afraid I must admit I inherited from her, which renders me incapable of small talk on the telephone. I just can’t do it. I feel compelled to get right to the point, and then hang up. Idle talk on the phone makes me jittery, uncomfortable, sick; I find it pointless. With my mother, well, she’s had a lifetime to take it to another level. Phrases that rarely – if ever – pass her lips when starting a phone conversation include, but are not limited to:


“How are you?”

“What are you up to today?”

“Do you have a minute?”

This is not to say that phone calls cannot last so long that one’s ear leaves condensation on one’s smartphone screen. Oh no. It’s just that the essential points one wants to address are brought up, hashed over, and then tossed aside for the next point. What suffers is the lead-in, the introduction, the warm-up. Just replace suffers with doesn’t exist and we can proceed to the next paragraph.

Oddly enough, one thing she usually announces at the get-go – with this morning’s conversation being a notable exception – is, “It’s your mother.” Which is completely unnecessary, since I have come to recognize her voice both in person and over the phone. Typically I’ll reply with, “Really?”

This morning, though, her salutation consisted of “Fuckwit-pussytard” in a louder-than-usual voice. I blame myself for asking her to repeat herself. You know, to clarify the colorful remark. So when she uttered the entire line, “I called him a fuckwit-pussytard after he called me a redneck,” I partially emerged from my shell-shock to recognize a bit of dialogue from Two Birds, which she is reading.

“Oh, Daaaaana,” she said, “the laannnnnguage!”

Now, my mother is not much of a cusser. Over the years, she’s occasionally said shit or her personal fave, asshole. But that’s about it. I knew she might have a problem with the profanity in my novel (and let’s not even mention the sex scene, OK?), and since she is not one of those who finds it difficulty to share an opinion, I knew I’d hear about it. I was not disappointed. I was, in fact, surprised, since after uttering the vile epithet, she laughed. She found it amusing, and even said, “I guess some people talk that way.” In the book, the character who delivers the line takes credit for inventing the foul hyphenate, which I felt comfortable writing since I had never heard the word before.

So my mother is right: some people do talk that way. Or they just make it up.

Where can a phone conversation possibly go after that opening salvo? Frankly, I forget. I’m still reeling from hearing my mother calling me a fuckwit-pussytard.

About Admin

Dana Pearson is a writer living in Kennebunk, Maine.
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2 Responses to Your basic mother-son dialogue

  1. Richard Morse says:

    As someone who shares two grandparents with you, I will say that we both need someone scientific to show us where the DNA is located under the microscope that governs how we do phone conversation. As you may remember, Grandma Dru used to say “Is your father there?” as her first utterance on a phone-call from her, without saying “hello”. So this is in the gene pool, and I have it, too. It makes us sound abrupt and perhaps even a little bit rude, without our intending it. And it tends to put people off who are not familiar with it.

    Also, as someone who has uttered the f-word repeatedly in open court, in my role as a Massachusetts prosecutor, quoting someone speaking in my summary of facts to the Court on a guilty plea for some violent crime, I can assure Aunt Deborah that, yes, a lot of people talk that way in today’s degraded culture. (Watch the HBO series “Deadwood” and listen to profanity sound nearly Shakespearean.) I actually think that we’re almost getting to the point where more people talk that way than don’t.

    • Admin says:

      That’s so funny that you have it too, Rich. And isn’t it great when you’re done saying what you need to say on the phone, and you fall into an awkward silence until someone says, “All right then, goodbye”? I love that.

      The aptly named Al Swearengen’s soliloquies in “Deadwood” were things of beauty, especially when accompanied by a round of fellatio.