September 22, 1996

My mother uses the US Postal Service as a blunt instrument.
Seeing a package of any size from my parent's
strikes fear in all that come in contact with it.

She's gotten slick in the last few years - using my dad to address all the envelopes in order to lull me into a sense of security.

I grew up knowing my mother is crazy and, probably, the smartest person I will ever know. If she can't convince you with a barrage of words that she is right on any given subject, she'll prove it. It is not unusual for her to throw her hands up and storm out a room in the middle of an argument only to appear later with a dictionary, encyclopedia or a newspaper clipping proving her. She'll argue over opinions, but when facts are involved, she's got a sort of blood lust to prove her point.

Once, during a dinner party, the subject of women jazz singers of the 20's and 30's came up. She claimed the most artistic and critically acclaimed female jazz vocalist was Lee Wiley. My mother said Ms. Wiley was best know as a real musician's chanteuse because of her amazing vocal control and style. I ask you: Have you ever heard of Lee Wiley? Neither had anyone at the party. My dad and a friend of mine had the nerve to doubt my mother. She started throwing out names like Nelson Rittle and then left the room. We were on to other subject when she returned with an the "J" book of the Encyclopedia Britannic. Under jazz was a picture of Lee Wiley.

I was also aware that my mom has a very strange and twisted sense of humor. I am often startled and disgusted to find people telling me I'm just like her. I mention this because of the startling family secret I discovered my first year of college. I attended Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, and like most freshmen, I lived in the dorms for the first year. On the tour of the dorms, my mother noticed that all the mail was delivered to the dorm in a bag and then sorted by the desk crew. This is when I learned of her pathological attraction to prank mail.

Just for a "hoot" (she is from Minnesota after all) she decided to buy a whole bunch of novelty envelopes and send them to me. They had return addresses like, "Los Angeles Breast Augmentation Clinic" and "Johnson and Johnson Venereal Diseace Research Center, Test Results Enclosed" and my personal favorite, "New, Color Illustrated Satanic Ritual Guide Enclosed!!". I'll admit the first few were funny (especially since checks or cash were involved), but when empty envelopes with the CIA return address started arriving, I knew she had gone too far.

One thing I can be proud of is that chain letters are beneath her. She does, however, enjoy sending odd things to her friends, anonymously. About five years ago, she bought some of those annoying Christmas cards that play hyped out music when you open them. The sound is produced by a little chip in the card that is only quiet when the card is closed. One of the cards was defective and started playing at random times of the day and night. What would you do with a Christmas card that would start playing jingle bells at three in the morning? Throw it in the garbage and take the $1.95 loss? Well not my mom! She sent it, with no return address, to a very dear friend. It took him a while (22 seconds I suspect) to figure out who send him the haunted card. He was pretty good about it. He sent the bent chip thingy back to my mom. No card. No note. No return address.

In the last month or so, I have gotten two packages from my mother. One contained a very nice silk sweater type thing, a bottle of Mirtha de Perales setting lotion with Placenta and a store receipt with the price of the setting lotion circled in red ink. As my usual ritual goes, I placed all the items on the table and stared at them until my girlfriend made me stop. I always think these packages have some sort of hidden message. The other parcel was a plain envelope with a clipping from a local paper.

The article described a murder committed in self defense. A man was helping his friend put up new venetian blinds. The friend was deaf, so they communicated by written notes. An argument ensued and the man helping put up the blinds attacked the deaf guy. It was deemed selfdefense by the police. My mother scrawled a little note at the bottom, "Sometimes the pen isn't mightier than the sword."

Two things bother me about the clipping. First off, it was actually a copy of a clipping which can only mean that my mom is keeping the original for use at a later date. Secondly, and this is what scares me, my curiosity is piqued. I want to read the notes.


Please send me your comments and suggestions. Email me at lmjimene@ix.netcom.com.

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Copyright, 1997 by Laura Jiménez.