In honor of what would have been my mother’s 85th birthday (she was born Sept. 7, 1931), I’ve scoured put together a collection of her greatest quotes. Cheers mom — and thanks for all the wit, wisdom and laughter!

On education:

Scene: Early September dinner time at the Crews household and my hair is in pre-Bo Derek cornrows because it meant I didn’t have to wash it if Miss Ruby, my nanny, braided it that way.

Mother: So what did you and Ruby do today, Nicole?

Me: Ruby took me to my first day of school!

Father: She did what?!

Me, proudly: Yes, we walked to Kern Street School and I signed up for the free lunch!

Mother, dropping her cigarette: Hand me the phone, Joe.

On fashion:

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.

On sports:

Mother: So what do you want to watch tonight?

Me: I thought we could watch the Super Bowl.

Mother: I’m sorry, my hearing must be going. I thought you said you wanted to watch the Super Bowl.

Me: Very funny. C’mon, it’ll be fun with the commercials and the half-time show.

Mother: This reminds me of when you were a cheerleader and I asked if you understood football.

Me: What did I say?

Mother: You said ‘it doesn’t matter whether you win or lose, you still get to cheer.’


Mother: Did you watch the Final Four? Duke won?

Me: I know, mother. The whole world knows mother – with the exception of certain drag queens and various Trappist monks.

Mother: Well if they’re from North Carolina they should know it, too.

On holidays:

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 forty years.

Me: So for Mother’s Day we could get mother-daughter tattoos. What would yours say?

Mother: Do not resuscitate.

On parenting:

Mother: So what event are you attending tonight?

Me: “Corks for Kids.”

Mother: Good. Children today don’t know how to use cutlery.

Me: I said “Corks” not “Forks,” mother.

Mother: What’s the difference?

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.

On hair:

Mother: So, are you single handedly bringing back “The Rachel?”

Me: Rachel who worked at the coffee shop or Rachel the buyer at Bloomingdales?

Mother: Does it matter? It’s still Greek Girl Blond.

Me: Says the woman who went from Cruella DeVille to Tina Louise in one swift dye job.

Mother: Answer the question.

Me: Well if it’s Bloomingdale’s buyer then yes, why not? It’s worked for Greek girl Jen Aniston for all these years.

Mother: Angelina Jolie might beg to differ.

Me: Your hair may be lighter, but your roots are still dark.

On Greensboro:

Mother: So has anyone come up with a slogan for Greensboro yet?

Me: I drove by the Convention & Visitor’s Bureau the other day and noticed a club next door called “Sexy Party Bar & Club.” Maybe that should be it: Greensboro: It’s one Sexy Party.

Mother: They should have embraced the Green trend when it was still green.

Me: That’s what my friend Angie said when we were walking the Greenway the other day.

Mother: Greensboro: The Green Way

Me: I just wish they would stop building doo-dads along the Greenway and finish the actual Greenway.

Mother: The Greenway wasn’t built in a day.

Me: You may be on to something.

On boys:

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.

On food:

Mother: What did you have for dinner last night?

Me: I clubbed some baby kale.

Mother: Why?

Me: I needed strength for the Golden Globes.

On the Oscars:

Mother: Did you watch the Oscars?

Me: You mean the Oprahs?

Mother: The camera did seem to spot on her a lot.

Me: Yeah. You’d think she was Kanye at the Grammys.

Mother: Who is Kanye? Oh. I know. That rude rapper. I’m glad he’s not in the movies. So many rappers are.

Me: Street cred pays off on screen. I have to say that I love Common though.

Mother: Who is Common?

Me: He’s kind of like the Harry Belafonte of this era.

Mother: Then why is he called Common?

Me: I think he was originally named Common Sense but some ska band with the same name sued him.

Mother: I’m not even going to ask what ska is. It sounds like something my neighboring Swedes would eat in Minnesota.

On death:

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.

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