Antique Childhood, Memaw, Use Your Words

Will the real Mom please stand up?

Way back in the last century, when TV only came in black and white, there was a game show called To Tell The Truth. This show featured a panel of obscure celebrities trying to guess the identity of an even more obscure celebrity from amongst two others claiming also to be said obscure celebrity — in a friendly identity theft sort of way. At the end of each episode, the announcer would say, “Would the real [obscure celebrity name here] please stand up?” The suspense was palpable to see who would stand as all three contestants jostled in their seats.

Anyway, Kitty Carlisle was one of the regular panelists on the show and I remember thinking she embodied all things elegant. As a 7-year-old girl, I wanted my name to be Kitty Carlisle, except for when I was wanting my name to be Laura Petrie, but never did I want my name to be “Mom”– until I did and then I couldn’t. But then later, much later, my name was changed to Mom. And right around that same time, I noticed that everyone else seemed to be named Mom too. And boy is that confusing in places like Wal-Mart where there are a lot of pint-sized humanoids running amok screaming “Hey Mom!” And now even Antique Daddy refers to me as “Mama” at times. And that gets very weird at family gatherings when he calls into the kitchen from the den, “Hey Mama?” and my mother-in-law and I both answer “Yes?” in unison. Everyone in the house holds their breath in suspense to see who will stand as we both jostle in our seats.

I’ve read that even before a baby is born, he can distinguish the sound of his mother’s voice from any other. You would think that would work in reverse, but no, it doesn’t. To me every toddler screaming “Mommy!” sounds like Sean and sends my momtenna up like a rocket and my head spinning like Linda Blair thus relieving me of what precious little adrenaline I have on a given day. So as a way to ration my adrenaline reserves and to eliminate confusion, I’m thinking of having Sean call me Kitty Carlisle instead.

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