Me: So what are your predictions for 2015?
Mother: That you will continue to steal my material.
Me: I’m the Johnny Appleseed of what comes out of your mouth.
Mother: I guess that means no grandchildren.
All She Wrote is not aptly bylined. Joann Crews has gotten the shaft. Everything I write begins with dialogue between my mother and me from recent or past conversations. Some bits are from seeds planted by me to elicit a response. Others are just plain Classic Crews bon mots that cut to the quick of the situation at hand. It’s been a great 2014 writing with you mom. Here’s some of your best this year.
On my career:
Mother: When are you going to write a novel?
Me: I’m writing it right now.
Mother: No. You’re talking to me right now.
(Scene: Driving from the lake on Mother’s Day in a bikini with a bucket of chicken, and emerging from the car to greet mother.)
Mother: Yeesh, Nicole, do you even own any pants?
Me: Says the woman who greeted my high school date at the door in panties and one of dad’s undershirts.
Mother: Well, we didn’t have air conditioning.
Mother: So where did you go for spring break?
Me: I went on a road trip to DeBordieu, South Carolina with the girls.
Mother: I’d hardly call that group “girls.”
Me: Well, we talked about boys, gave each other facials, gossiped, rode bikes, had petty arguments and started drinking around noon, what would you call us?
Mother: Rehab candidates.
Scene: Flashback to the ’90s at the lake house where I’m entertaining a group of college girlfriends.)
Mother, standing by the pool in a starched linen shirt and long linen trousers, arms akimbo: Why is there a bottle of Bertoli Olive Oil tethered to the sliding board?
Me: If you rub it on your bum you really fly down the slide.
Mother: The pool guy is gonna love that.
Me: He was here earlier. And he did.
Mother: Where exactly is this Camp Funhole that you keep talking about Nicole? Is it at the lake? The coast?
Me: Camp Funhole is really a state of mind mother — mostly the state of the minds of Frank, Brad and Nicole.
Mother: It sounds more like a state of emergency.
Mother: Did you go to the lake this weekend?
Me: Yeah. I took the girls. We rode go-carts, went to the minnow farm, went swimming and sat around in our bras eating meat. It was a lot like “Duck Dynasty” meets “Honey Boo-Boo.”
Mother: Only with filets and 1st Cru Gevrey-Chambertin.
Me: Yeah. With a little “Downton Abbey” thrown in I guess.
On the South:
Me: Do you consider yourself a Southerner since you’ve been here 60 years?
Mother: No. I think you have to be born to it otherwise it’s like some actor portraying a cartoonish person from the South with a terrible, exaggerated accent.
Me: Do you consider me a Southerner?
Mother: Nicole, you defy category on that and so many other levels.
Mom: When I moved to North Carolina from New York in the 1960s I was told, “Ladies in the South don’t wear eyeliner.”
Me: What ever did you do with all of those little black dresses that were verboten?
Mom: Ugh. Don’t get me started. John Christian Bernhardt’s wife took me to Montaldo’s and bought me a pink shift with a green, white and pink geometric matching scarf.
Me: Sounds kind of pretty.
Mom: You would think that, you’re a half-breed.
On the furniture industry:
Me: Mother, you worked in the industry for almost half a century, do you think it’s morally unconscionable to sell furniture to drunk buyers?
Mother: Nicole, most everything having to do with the furniture industry is morally unconscionable.
Me: Yet you sleep well at night.
Mother: Both in my Century bed and on my Tomlinson sofa.
Me: Do you remember when I was a kid and you forced me to go to Clown Camp at UNCG and you spent the day hanging with your painterly friends on Tate Street? That was my first taste of wanting to change places with you.
Mother: Yes. I’ve never seen a child so fascinated with band flyers, record stores and counterculture.
Me: Oddly enough I’m friends with a lot of those countercultural ‘kids’ now.
Mother: So I see Clown Camp paid off.
On my love life:
Mother: So why did you come home so early from your date last night?
Me: That’s none of your business.
Mother: Nicole, your love life is a conundrum, not a business.
Mother: You never know a man until you see him on a boat, on a mountain or in the cut.
Me: How about in his cups?
Mother: Well, that’s a given.
Mother: Whatever happened to that hoodlum you girls used to have a crush on?
Me: Are you talking about Mickey Rourke or Keith Richards?
Mother: Very funny. I’m talking about Billy.
Me: Last I heard he was racing cars in California.
Mother: Well, I sure am glad he’s the one who got away.
Mother: Your father always said that secondary school was more important than college.
Me: Why was that?
Mother: It’s where you discovered your brain.
Me: I had already discovered my vagina.
Mother: At least you discovered the difference between the two.
On my social life:
Mother: What are you wearing to the barn wedding?
Me: That silk skirt and your fox wrap.
Mother: Plaid and roadkill. That should do the trick.
Mother: Have you recovered from the nuptials?
Me: Yes. I think so. I was surprised I hadn’t heard your commentary yet.
Mother: I was waiting for the last grain of rice to fall.
Mother: Where are you going all dressed up?
Me: I’ve got another funeral.
Mother: Don’t be like me and outlive all of your friends.
Me: You’ve still got me mother.
Mother: Nicole, you’re my child. Not my friend.
Scene: Epic Halloween blowout at my late ’90s apartment and my mother shows up in a full-length mink with a sweeping sable collar and a More menthol dangling from her mouth.
Me: So who are you supposed to be?
Mother: You in 40 years.
Me: That’s a mighty big coat to fill. I think I’d look like more like Steven Seagal.
Mother: You’ve got a long time to grow into it, kid.
On the holidays:
Me: Well we survived Thanksgiving. What do you want to do for the rest of the holidays?
Mother: As little as possible.
Me: Here, here.