Mom is worth every penny

Kevin Cowherd

May 05, 1993|By Kevin Cowherd

Mother's Day. The dilemma comes down to this: The woman who bore you, who changed your diapers, who comforted you when you were sick, who stood by you and taught you all about life even though you were basically an undeserving little creep -- are you gonna blow her off with a $1.25 Hallmark card again?

For too many of us, the answer is: Well, I . . . see, it's been pretty busy at work . . . just haven't had time to . . . yes.

It's sad, isn't it? When this country stops honoring its mothers, when making an effort to do something special for mothers on their day becomes unfashionable, this country becomes . . . I don't know . . . Albania.

Let me tell you something about Mother's Day in Albania: never mind gifts or flowers or a nice brunch, mothers don't even get a card.

They don't even get an extra helping of yogurt, for God's sake. Instead, it's a day like any other day: up at the crack of dawn, plunge your face into a basin of ice water, wolf down a cold turnip for breakfast and trudge out into the fields to harvest sugar beets for 12 hours.

Or else mothers in Albania are feeding the scraggly goats on their meager farms or breaking their backs with another full shift in a copper mine. Or coaxing a few more watts out of Comrade Drin's pathetic hydroelectric plant somewhere near the Adriatic.

It's not a pretty sight, Mother's Day in that part of the Balkans.

The point is, we don't want that to happen here in the good ol' U.S.-of-A. And I'm guessing it won't, at least as long as the Rite Aids stay open and they keep serving the Grand Slam menu at Denny's.

I think of my own mother and all she's meant to me, all the advice she's given me over the years.

When I was young, it was: Drink your milk. Don't sit so close to the TV. Don't run with scissors. Put that stick down, you'll poke somebody's eye out! Eat your vegetables. Get down from there, you'll break your neck!

Then later in life it was: You're smoking too much. I don't know what you see in her. Are you sure you can afford that car? What is that, your third beer?

Pick, pick, pick . . . Lord, the woman was annoying! But that was her job. A good mother is supposed to be annoying.

A good mother is supposed to badger the hell out of her kids and make sure they do the right thing, so that they're not eventually bursting into a diner at 3 in the morning and waving a shotgun at the terrified cashier and shoving the receipts into a plain canvas bag.

Look, you do what you want for your mother on her day. Me, I'm still glowing from the rosy memories of last Mother's Day, when I took my mom for brunch at the International House of Pancakes.

As befitting its name, the restaurant was located in an exotic part of town, tucked in a strip mall between The Hair Loft and Ken's Custom Car Sounds ("Ask About Our Full Line of Jensen Speakers!")

Once seated, we were soaking in the international flavor of the place when the waitress came over, snapped her gum and said: "What can I get ya, hons?"

From her rich, throaty accent, I pegged her as a native of France, maybe Normandy or Bordeaux -- although there existed the outside possibility she was from Baltimore and simply had a head cold.

Anyway, Mom was so caught up in the global ambience that she ordered the French toast.

"My friend Mary Claire has it here all the time," Mom said.

"Mom," I said, "if Mary Claire jumped off the Empire State Building, would you do the same thing?"

Feeling a little daring myself and realizing this was a rare opportunity to sample the food from another country, I went with the International Club Deluxe sandwich, which consisted of turkey breast, bacon, lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise.

I pointed out to our French waitress that, in many respects, the International Club Deluxe sandwich eeriely resembled the domestic club sandwich served in much of the U.S., which also consists of turkey breast, bacon, lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise.

"I dunno, hon," she said. "You want onion rings with that?"

"No, not onion rings," I said. "Bring those potatoes from your country . . . the curly ones . . . what do you call them, fries? Yes, the French fries."

Happily, both the French toast and the French fries were excellent.

As we were leaving, I couldn't help notice that Ken's Custom Car Sounds was featuring 4-inch dual-cone --board speakers for $32.99 a pair, a price I doubt you could find anywhere along the Champs-Elysees.

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