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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
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Written by Alice Bradley and Eden Kennedy

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Someone's a big girl! 

Today is my mom's birthday. 75 years ago today, Mary Anne Mariano (yes, that's her maiden name) was born a poor Italian child, in Queens, New York. She didn't even own a shirt until she was in high school.


I may be outing my mom, because a number of her friends and acquaintances thinks she's 65. Not only do they think she's 65, they also believe (correctly) that she looks extraordinarily good for a 65-year-old. I'm a little concerned that if any of them find out the truth they won't survive the shock/envy. Then again, none of those people know how to work an Internet.

At any rate: it is impossible to sum up how wonderfully hilarious and infuriating my mother is. She is a never-ending source of entertainment and blog material. Here, in no particular order, is but a sampling of just some of the insightful/hilarious/baffling tidbits my mother has passed along to me throughout these many years.

75 Things My Mom Has Told Me

1. I don't trust boring people.

2. Be proud of your ass. Seriously. It's a good ass. You got that from me.

3. Don't chew gum with your mouth open.

4. When you're really stuck, just act like you're stupid.

5. You will never beat me at arm wrestling. But you're getting better! No, really, I kind of had to resist this time.

6. This music is not too loud. Don't be an old lady.

7. If you're playing loud music and not dancing, there's something wrong with you.

8. Add lots of olive oil to that.

9. I'm sure you kids make fun of me behind my back. Whatever.

10. It's a funny story--they thought I was a prostitute! Of course I wasn't.

11. I can teach you how to salsa, get up.

12. Going to bed before midnight is weird.

13. You need to get rich so I can live in a wing of your house. Or a floor, I'll take a floor.

14. It's 5 pm. That's cocktail hour.


15. Don't take yourself so seriously.

16. If you're going to make your bed, do a good job at least.

17. All those celebrities are gay. All of them.

18. I swear I don't know what I'm going to do with you.

19. You might be annoyed with me now, but someday you're going to miss this.

20. There is nothing better than broccoli rabe. IT'S FULL OF ANTI-OXIDANTS.

21. No one should ski. Who the hell likes the cold?

22. You should listen to that woman on the radio, what's her name. She's smart.

23. Always wear a little makeup.

24. You know who flirts with women in their 70s? Men in their 90s. It's disgusting.

25. My father had beautiful feet.

26. What? It's not weird to know about your father's feet.

27. Don't write anything you wouldn't want your mother to read.

28. Those Swiffer things, what do you call them, they're the best.

29. You can too drink wine while you're pregnant.

30. Doctors never know what they're talking about.

31. Don't make me worry.

32. Everything's going to be fine! I said the Rosary about it.

33. You'll always have your family.

34. Except the family members who are pieces of crap.


35. I don't care how little money you have, that's no reason not to get a pedicure.

36. There's no excuse for not knowing how to spell. Okay, maybe dyslexia. I'm not talking about that!

37. You can't go wrong with beige. Or a nice ecru.

38. There are some good things about getting old. You lose all your body hair, which is nice.

39. If you're feeling bad, you can wallow for a while, and then you get over it!

40. When you get older, the key word is "dewy," Alice. You want to look dewy.

41. There's nothing wrong with only having one kid. Sometimes I wished I only had one! I don't mean it like THAT.

42. Make fun of me all you like. I'll haunt you some day.

43. Cheap crap is crap. Why would you buy cheap crap?

44. I'm so glad you're not dyeing your hair that horrible red color anymore. I didn't want to say anything.

45. Birthday cards don't count unless they're sent in the mail. [Note: I screw this one up every year.]

46. You were the first one of my children to call on my birthday! You're my favorite this year.

47. Those e-cards don't count. Don't you dare send me those.

48. Fine, I'll cut down on the Christmas gifts, but I have to get you something.

49. Your boyfriend is Jewish? Good. I have no problem with the Jews.

50. New York in the fifties!

51. Why would anyone live in New Jersey? That's where they dump the bodies.

52. Before I got my cataracts removed, I looked amazing.

53. No boys allowed in your bedroom. I don't care if it's your gay friend.

54. I never did anything half as embarrassing to you as my mother did to me. [Pretty sure this is true.]

55. When I die, cremate me and throw my ashes at Harry Belafonte. [This may not be something she said, but it is something I'm planning.]

56. Of course I'm going to spoil Henry. I'm the grandma. Get over it.


57. I'm just saying, I think she might be gay. She wears these glasses and she has that short hair.

58. Also she lives with this other woman and they sleep in the same bed. You can't tell me that's not a thing.

59. What do you mean, you're not coming home for Thanksgiving Eve?

60. When that dog of yours dies, I don't want to be around.

61. I'd never live in a place where there's a dry heat. Those people all look like mummies.

62. You definitely did not get my chest. I've got nothing.

63. There is nothing I hate more than texting.

64. I happened to think those email jokes were funny. I'll never send you any jokes ever again. Don't be like what?

65. It's just money, Alice.

66. I don't know where we are! Your father's driving.

67. You didn't call so I left you a message. Not "several" messages.

68. I love that blog you wrote! "Post," whatever.

69. I just hope you're raising Henry with some religion. I'm not saying you have to go to CHURCH.

70. Never lie to your mother.

71. You were always so modest growing up. And now…

72. I don't know where you learned that fucking language.

73. Just hope you didn't inherit those Irish genes, because believe me they did not age well. Their faces all fall to their waists.

74. Life is too short.

75. Call your mother.

I love you, Mom. Happy birthday. And here's to another 75 years! If anyone could pull that off it would be you.

Please, everyone, wish my mom a happy birthday. And if you feel like sharing any words of wisdom your mother has imparted to you at some point in your life, that would be great.

Reader Comments (140)

Happy Birthday, Alice's mom! I don't have any wisdom from my mom, because she died, but she was Italian too and I think she would have been like you! Well, I want to be like you, anyway...

Now I'm going to go ask my son where he learned that fucking language!

September 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCharlitan

Your Mom? I love her. Happy Birthday!!

September 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChris

Happy birthday, Alice's Mom!

And now I shall share some words of wisdom from my mom:

1. "My family will want the Chicken Dance!" - spoken as we almost came to blows in the lobby of the Manor East in Massapequa.

2. "We don't drive in the left lane!"

3. On the occasion of their fiftieth anniversary, as she gave my father the maraschino from her Apricot Sour - "Here, Stan, take my cherry. Just like you took it 50 years ago today!"

That's my momma!

September 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMelanie

I loved this too much. Happy bday alice's mum.

September 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAmy

Happy Birthday Alice's Mom!!!

This post brought me to tears. Not the well up in the corner of your eye kind, I mean the full on sobbing "oh my God, gross things are now dripping down my face" kind.

I mean that in the best way Alice. Reading this brought me back so much of my Grandmother.... So many of the very best parts of her. Number 19 is so crucial.

I find myself very often getting all worked up and sad about missing her because she is gone, and having to force myself into making lists like this one so that I remember and cheer myself up.

I love this post. Love. Love. Love.

September 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSomeone

Happy Birthday Alice's Mom! You did a great job with her: she's smart, funny and makes cute kids. I hope you have a wonderful day and the next year brings you all you need but NO 90 year old men ogling you~

September 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSheila

Happy Birthday Mary Anne! Hope you have another 75!

The only wisdom I remember my mom imparting was this: Premarital sex is NOT FUN!

September 23, 2011 | Unregistered Commentera

Happy Birthday to Alice's Mom! I loved the quotes, so keep 'em coming!

"It's always ok to take a mental health day once in a while." - My Mom

September 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJackie Stanton

Happy Birthday from Austin, Texas!

My mother told me never to leave the house without lipstick. And I don't! Even if I'm going running in the dark. Because what if the sun comes up while I'm out???

September 24, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjennie w.

"Or a nice ecru."

loved that! happy b-day to your mom.

September 24, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterlori

"I don't want you to think that you're just gonna get married and some man is gonna take care of you...because...that's not gonna happen."

It stung at age 16, but ah, how true.

September 24, 2011 | Unregistered Commentershaye

Oh and I can't believe I forgot this one! When asking her opinion on an outfit:

"Well, it isn't any weirder than anything you ever wear."

September 24, 2011 | Unregistered Commentershaye

Happy Birthday Alice's mom - Mrs. Slippy - whatever your name is! You look fabulous. Wishing you many many more. And go ahead, spoil Henry, that IS what grandmothers were made for.

And, Alice, I seriously can't decide which is my favorite quote. The one about the bodies in New Jersey is up there. My mother recently turned 89 (and, coincidentally I wrote all about HER in MY blog today) so her thoughts have been turning toward the eternal... she's been talking about where she'd like to be buried (my Dad was cremated, so it's not going to be besides him).

As she wants me to visit ("It would be nice to have a little company from time to time") I suggested she take a plot in the cemetery my husband's very large family uses, as we're there at least once or twice a year, it seems.

When she asked where it was and I told her "New Jersey" she gave a little shudder and declined. "I'm a New York City and Long Island girl, you know. I just don't think I can end up in New Jersey, it would seem... disloyal."

September 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterVarda (SquashedMom)

Happy birthday dear Alice's mom!!! I agree with everything you said, wise, wise woman.

September 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJo

Something about your mom reminds me distinctly of Carol Burnett, which is just fabulous. Happy birthday to her!

September 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Goldberg

these are hilarious! what a great mom you have!!!!!!!!!!

happy birthday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

September 24, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterangela king

Happy happy slightly late birthday, Mary Anne! You look amazing!

Alice, I can see where you get your sense of humor; what an awesome mom!

My mother is 76 and is also full of wisdom and good advice. She's always saying things like "you couldn't find your butt with both hands," and describing the weather in colorful ways: "colder than a well-digger's ass," "slicker than a snotty dime," calling a downpour a "toad-strangler," etc. She is and always has been incredibly comforting and loving, especially when thing are at their worst, but she gets frustrated with me sometimes when I don't take her advice. Once after arguing for a while about something she got very frustrated and flipped me off - and it was so shocking and hilarious I just couldn't stop laughing. I think my favorite thing about her is that she looks and acts like the sweetest person on the planet until you cross her - then look out. Mom doesn't take shit from anyone.

September 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth B

Happy birthday! Hope you feel celebrated!

Comments from my mom:

Oh, they'll never know...Plus, the alcohol cooks out!

How is it that baby showers are now as big as weddings?

My hair stands on end when they call our baptisms christenings!

That made me want to throw up itty, bitty, little green things.

You know we are the only normal ones.... (she always said this with a sideways smile)

These chips aren't old! Just pop them in the oven for a few minutes and they'll be as good as new.

Comments from her mother:

How do people get that fat? (every time we saw someone obese, normally in a loud voice. She never had good hearing...)

Just have a good time!

September 24, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermary

Except, possibly, for her low opinion of skiing, she is a perfect gem.

September 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJulia's Child

What a great list! I love your mom already.

Happy birthday, Mary Anne!

September 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle

First, happy birthday to your mom! And may she have many, many more. My mom, also Mary Ann, and an Italian from the Bronx, died a few months ago. She knew exactly where we learned that fucking language, and was pretty proud when we could use it appropriately in context as toddlers.

September 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterClair

Happy birthday Finmommy! My mom uses #42, too.

September 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNichole

I love this so much I'm linking to you tomorrow! Happy birthday, mom!

September 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterWendyB

happiest of wonderful birthdays, ms. bradley, and thanks for the passed-on advice.
i think the two oddest pieces of advice i ever got from my mom (a nurse) were:
heroin isn't necessarily that bad for you, if you know what you're doing.
i tried cocaine once, and it wasn't that great.
good to know? i wasn't planning to try either one, anyway.

September 24, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterleela

Happy birthday! Love the post AND the comments.

September 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGolla

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