Jewish World Review May 9, 2003 / 7 Iyar, 5763

Lori Borgman

Lori Borgman
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Consumer Reports

Mom plus shipping equals excitement | Call it a daughter's intuition, but I can always tell when my mother is up to something. UPS dropped off a package as we were standing in the driveway. Mom glanced at the return address, then gave it a swift kick into the garage.

"What's in the box, Mom?"

"Nothing," she said.

"Somebody paid UPS to deliver a box of nothing?"

No answer.

We keep tabs on Mom because she has what you might call a few peculiarities in her shopping habits. We believe my mother was single-handedly responsible for the success of the Big Mouth Billy Bass wall-mounted singing fish. Billy Bass was a plastic big mouth bass on a plaque with a motion sensor that caused Billy to flap his tail and sing a fishing tune. It was funny the first 600 times. After that you wanted to do a catch and release with Billy. Mom was the best catch Billy Bass ever had.

Billy was followed by the lettuce chopper, a green plastic knife guaranteed to keep lettuce from turning brown. "You can chop bags of lettuce for tacos and it will keep for days," Mom said, distributing plastic choppers to every family member.

There are two things Mom can't refuse: novelties and kids. Mom orders from the Avon lady because the woman's two daughters deliver the merchandise. She is the only woman I know who threatens to go door to door looking for Girl Scouts if the scouts don't come to her. She's a Presbyterian who orders yellow trash bags from a Catholic grade school because my nephews once went there. No relation has attended the school in more than four years, but "the bags are good and the kids are nice."

You can see why we were wondering what might be in the box of nothing.

"Maybe it's private," Mom says. She sounds like she's put off, but she's not. It's her way of drawing a crowd. Word about the box of nothing spreads quickly. Soon Mom has five grandkids, one son-in-law with a video camera and both of her grown children present in the driveway. "OK, if you really have to know. I'll show you," she snaps.

Mom rips open the box and pulls out a smaller box that says "Ding King -- AS SEEN ON TV.

"Ding King! Are you opening a body repair shop?" cracks a grandson. Grandma casts The Look and the kid cowers behind his dad. At least he cowers as well as a kid almost six-feet tall is able to.

"I had a little accident backing the car out of the garage and I thought this might work."

Before her are two knowledgeable weekend mechanics, two shade-tree wannabe mechanics and assorted skeptics. "You blew $19.95 plus shipping? It's never gonna work," says one of the guys, laughing.

"Step aside," Grandma says. She backs the Taurus out of the garage and thrusts the Ding King at one of the wannabes. "See if you can figure this out, Smart Guy."

Thirty minutes later, Smart Guy is gingerly unscrewing the bridge that has held the Ding King in place. The crowd is hushed and craning for a view. There is a soft kerplunk and the dent in Grandma's car disappears.

The crowd scatters, racing to pull their cars into the drive. Within seconds, a red pick-up, an out-of-state mini-van and an SUV are lined up patiently waiting for a turn at the Ding King.

Grandma surveys the scene with a look of satisfaction, then heads inside to start dinner. Tacos. Lots of lettuce; none of it brown.

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JWR contributor Lori Borgman is the author of I Was a Better Mother Before I Had Kids. To comment, please click here. To visit her website click here.

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© 2001, Lori Borgman