My family was living in Trieste. This was a time when Trieste was a Free Territory, contested between Italy and Yugoslavia. It later became the northeast corner of Italy.

My brother, who was 8 or 9-years old, took me to the park. I have always had poor proprioception, which is a cumbersome word just meaning that I was seriously clumsy. My sense of where my body was in terms of the world in general was just off by a bit. This particular day I misjudged the speed of a swing on its return journey and got a good whack in the head, knocking me out cold.

My brother, ever the boy scout, decided to leave me there on the ground under the swing while he made his way home as quickly as he could to seek help. Unfortunately for him, HIS sense of where his body was in terms of the world was ALSO somewhat off kilter. (I’m thinking there is a genetic factor in play here.) He had been to school in Switzerland and no less than three times he skied off of a cliff and broke one leg each time. He alternated legs, which I always thought was fascinating.

He didn’t run home the usual way; he went in a relatively straight line, which entailed climbing a wrought iron picket fence. Regrettably, he impaled his right hand on a picket. The picket entered his palm and exited at the base of his pinkie. It happened very fast, since he was in a hurry. Working his had loose of the impalement took a bit longer. When he freed his hand, his pinkie was sort of swinging loose from his palm. He held it with his other hand and ran home.

Here is where fate intervened. Both my mother and my father were home. This was very unusual because my father was almost certainly a spy and was virtually always away behind the iron curtain somewhere in Yugoslavia. (You young ones might have to pause now to look up both “iron curtain” and “Yugoslavia”.)

My brother entered the house, bleeding profusely with his right pinkie dangling loosely from his palm. By this time, I had come back into consciousness and followed the usual route home to our house, avoiding the perilous wrought iron picket fence. We arrived at virtually the same time, since it wasn’t necessary to dislodge any part of my body from impalement.

My mother focused like a hawk directly on my brother’s wound and picked up a paring knife.
“Let me just clean that up before we go to the hospital,” she said calmly.
“What do you mean ‘clean that up’ and why are you holding a paring knife,” my dad asked.
“Harry, his hand is messy. I need to neaten it up. I won’t have him going to the hospital all messy. I’ll just cut off that pinkie,” she said.

At this point my brother started running around the dining room table away from my mother, screaming: “Mommy, please don’t cut off my finger!” My mother was fast and got a hold of his shoulder, but she wasn’t all that strong, and my brother got away from her. I’m pretty sure that panic can make a person more fleet of foot. My mother proceeded to chase after him around the table shouting: “Woody, just let me clean that up.” My father was stunned at the sight of his wife brandishing a paring knife, and also somewhat upset by what she planned to do with said paring knife. He joined the fray and began chasing my mother around the table yelling: ”Rose, you will NOT cut off my son’s finger!”

The three of them circled the table yelling these unusual things over and over. Around and around the table they ran, reminiscent of the tigers circling the tree so fast that they tuned into butter. My mother wasn’t usually fast, but when it came to tidiness, she was driven. My father was not ordinarily a quick man, but he knew his wife and had reason to kick it up a notch. At last, my dad caught up with and disarmed my mother. She was irate. Not only did she not tidy up my brother before his hospital visit but now there was blood to clean up all around the rug under the table. My mother HATED messes.

My dad drove us to the hospital, but had to stop by the side of the road almost immediately. My mother had nail scissors in her purse and was reaching over the seat to my cowering brother in the back trying again to snip off his finger. It would have been so easy if my brother hadn’t cried out thus alerting my father. I myself bunched up my hands in two little fists because I feared she would just snip off one of mine if she couldn’t succeed with my brother. Those who knew her will understand that this was a real possibility. When my mother became frustrated, she got a really strange look in her eyes. It was a freaky kind of look.

My dad took my mom’s purse and emptied it on the side of the road. Finding no other sharp instrument, he put the nail scissors in his pocket; moved my bother to the shotgun seat and banished my mother to the back with me. This really got me worried. Who knew how strong my dedicated mother could be? I was afraid she might just try to tear off one or two of my fingers instead. I cringed in the corner, concentrating on keeping my little hands in tight little fists.

The doctors were able to sew back my brother’s pinkie and splint it. Today he has a couple of great scars and complete use of the finger.

It was serendipity that my dad was there at the moment of my brother’s injury. My brother would certainly only have 9 fingers now, perhaps fewer once my mother began “tidying him up.” My mother was a determined woman when it came to neatness. Savagely determined.


Comment by Lenore Zion |Edit This
2008-09-12 16:00:49

remember how you used to get really drunk and smash wine bottles over my head when i was little?

then you’d cry and apologize, but i knew all that meant was that you’d sneak into my room when i was sleeping and vomit into my pillow case.

you never minded a mess. nothing like nana.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-12 16:46:00

JesusHolyChrist, Lenore,

What are you trying to do to me? NO ONE believes I broke wine bottles over your head. I can’t even vomit. ( If I could I swear to you I would be skinny.) You are a dirty stinking liar and I love every inch of your desecrated body.

It IS true, though, that I never did mind a mess. Still don’t.

Comment by Jaime Simpson |Edit This
2008-09-12 17:02:39

Not even those Hollywood stunt wine bottles that break super easy? I think it’s great you didn’t (still don’t) get upset over messes; not worth it at all. The messier the better, I say. Unless there’s blood. That’s where I draw the line.

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Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-12 17:06:30

Wait. Weren’t you Jim just a little while ago? You’re Jaime all along? Humn. Both good names.
My house is a total disaster. But I’m almost sure that there is no blood anywhere. Can’t be positive, of course, mess that it is, but pretty sure.
I’m still Irene.

Comment by Santiago |Edit This
2008-09-12 18:48:42

St. James

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-12 19:03:39

Oh. Can I have a relic from you? I’ve always wanted a Saint’s relic. Just something small, like a finger bone….

Comment by Tim |Edit This
2008-09-12 19:01:57

Quit lying, Mom. I always thought it was gin, Lenore. Oh well.

Mom always hit us with bottles. We knew when to hide.

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Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-12 19:07:19

My mother used to say “I’m going to tan your hide.” all the time. Now, I’m not sure exactly how to go about it or indeed what it entails, but I’m going to study up on it and tan both of yours, maybe.

(She also used to say “Damn your eyes!” I can’t go that far. That seems mean. You both have such cute eyes.)

Comment by Adam |Edit This
2008-09-12 22:39:13

Again, from Wikipedia:

Tanning is the process of converting putrescible skin into non-putrescible leather, usually with tannin, an acidic chemical compound that prevents decomposition and often imparts color. Tanning leather involves a process which permanently alters the protein structure of skin so that it can not ever return to rawhide. Making rawhide does not require the use of tannin and is made simply by removing the flesh and then the hair by way of soaking in an aqueous solution (often called liming when using lime and water or bucking when using wood ash (lye) and water), then scraping over a beam with a somewhat dull knife, and then leaving to dry, usually stretched on a frame so that it dries flat. The two aforementioned solutions for removing the hair also act to clean the fiber network of the skin and therefore allow penetration and action of the tanning agent.

Comment by Adam |Edit This
2008-09-12 22:40:52

Now, as far as actually removing the flesh, I’m sure Nana would have had some tips for you, if you weren’t always too busy cowering in the back seat to listen.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-13 05:28:27

Okay, Adam, thanks. I will NOT tan their hides. That is WAY icky. I have to try to remember the other fascinating things my mother said to me. They were all ingenious. She was very creative in an angry, malicious sort of way.

Comment by lonny |Edit This
2008-09-13 14:02:45

i seem to remember having my hide tanned a few times

that and being locked in the crawlspace

whoa is me…

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-13 15:56:07

Ah. The crawl space…. Such a place of mystery. (and such a low ceiling!)

Comment by Tim |Edit This
2008-09-13 19:07:37

I always found the crawlspace to be disgusting. Why not have a floor? Nasty.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-14 01:05:23

Tim, the water table was too high in that part of Central Illinois. You couldn’t have a basement without having it flood often. Do you remember the Bocheks had a basement and anytime we got a good rain they’d be inundated. They only put it in because they were afraid of tornadoes. You needed a crawl space so people could get to pipes and wires and stuff from underneath the house.
Remember when Sara would freak out at the sound of the tornado warning horn and gather all of you with blankets and pillows behind the bar for your safety? I’d be outside marvelling at the yellow sky and the great wind. Poor Sara would be so upset with me. I think she’s still terrified of tornadoes.

Comment by Tim |Edit This
2008-09-14 14:03:56

I understand the crawlspace-concept. I just hate seeing dirt and shit inside(ish). Why not have a damn floor? I ask again!

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-15 03:56:57

I’m so proud of you, Tim. Out of the five of you, you are the only one to keep a clean house. Well, Sara does now, but she didn’t used to. The rest of you are pigs.

The dirt in the crawl space didn’t bother me because I would never in a million years go down there. I’m sure there are all manner of insects and creepy-crawlies down there still. Nope. Never ever go down there.

Comment by George |Edit This
2008-09-13 11:29:59

I learned another new word, “proprioception,” which I probably won’t use in a conversation because I will forget how to pronouce it.

Irene’s mother is a hoot, and a little bit crazy. Fortunately, she wasn’t a doctor, or she would be amputating everything. Maybe she was a tree surgeon. They like to amputate.

Irene should really publish a book of her short stories.

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Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-13 12:39:33

Well, George, the only people who need to learn the word “proprioception”, (which sounds phonetically exactly how it is spelled,) are those who are afflicted by the condition. I can tell by the sturdy, manly way that you write that you have no such problems.

I will grant you that my mother is a hoot in retrospect. Growing up with her was less hootful, much less hootful.

Perhaps if I did write a book about my mother, I could finally exorcise her from my brain. I’ll think that over, George, thanks for the idea.

Comment by Tim |Edit This
2008-11-22 05:47:38

Gin, Lenore. Our classy-ass mother would’ve had a hard time getting her message across hitting us with her empty boxes of Opal Estates.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2008-11-22 05:58:39

I don’t even know what Opal Estates is. Gin smells funny. You must be misremembering. It was probably sake, Tim.

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Comment by Melissa |Edit This
2008-09-12 16:27:30

True quote from my mother, when my brother and I must have been driving her up a wall.

“The dog is going to break and I am going to crack up”. How my brother and I made fun of her. HA…maybe you mom had a little case of the crack up there.

And……..well I know you never know where you are going since I have to guide you around MCH, how on earth did you get home girl?

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-12 16:52:50

I’m afraid that you are going to get two comments, because I already left one, but it seems to have disappeared.
I love your mother! “The dog is going to break and I am going to crack up.” That is priceless! Especially the dog is going to break part. ALL moms say they are going to crack up. But the dog is going to break? Where did she come up with that? I love it!

Melissa, you know I could never get home on my own. I have one of those electronic gizmos that tell you very sweetly how to get where you want to go. You stick it on your front window and type in an address and it NEVER loses its temper no matter how many mistakes you make. She just kindly says: “recalculating route…” whenever you screw up. I love her. Her name is Gerty.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-13 05:40:11

Melissa, your mother said funny things when she was angry. Can I borrow her for awhile?

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Comment by Melissa (Irene’s friend) |Edit This
2008-09-13 07:33:58

Well she keeps saying my ex, should choke and die. How about that one? Mind you this little lady is less than 5 feet tall and a good gust of wind could blow her away. I swear that the late George Carlin had hidden mikes all over our house. His routine was my mom down pat. Her best one was,,, “Where are my good scissors?” Good thing when my brother ran into the glass door, his pinkie finger was not dangling. She hated a mess too.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-13 08:01:17

But Melissa, your ex SHOULD choke and die, that is not at all an unreasonable thing for your Mom to say.
I have to say, though, that I’m glad she loses things too. I need everyone to lose things so I don’t feel so stupid.
When your brother ran into the glass door, did he go through the glass door? That is not a good thing for anyone to do. Lots of blood and all that glass to clean up. How is your Mom with messes?

Comment by Melissa (Irene’s friend) |Edit This
2008-09-15 19:31:39

The only reason my mom did not totally crack up , was because I was babysitting. AND being such a good sitter, I would not let Gregg go outside to let his friends feast on the very yummy vitamins he was giving out as snacks. So I locked the front door… he smashed into it. Glass and blood spewed. My mother hated messes so had the front hall tiled long before it was the thing to do,,,which made for a swift clean up. Brother in the tub. lots of bandages. Everything was as good as new..just a few dozen scrapes and a broken door. An everyday happening in some homes…….but shhhhhhhhh they still do not know I locked the door

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-16 15:18:44

Don’t worry,Melissa. I am excellent with secrets! Mum’s the word!

Comment by N.L. Belardes |Edit This
2008-09-12 16:38:35

What years were these? Just curious. There’s no bio for you, so I have no clue other than Iron Curtain. I’m just assuming the 40s or 50s.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-12 16:42:48

Hello angry cricket!
Those were the years, for me, between 1951 and 1955 from when I was three years old until I was eight and we returned to Brooklyn. I’ll get a better bio up eventually, but I totally stretched out my welcome with Lenore tonight getting this posted. Thank GOD I didn’t need any pictures or blue print that sends you somewhere else!

Comment by N.L. Belardes |Edit This
2008-09-13 11:14:25

Gotcha. I look forward to reading more stories of your family craziness. I kinda want to cut off one of my kids’ fingers for fun though.

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Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-13 12:43:36

Sorry, no, uh uh. I don’t believe you one tiny little bit. You are a big talker, but a softy inside, just what a Dad should be. You come off as an angry cricket with attitude, but really, take off those glasses and you are a mild-mannered reporter-type. A sweet one who wouldn’t hurt a fly. You’re busted, angry cricket!

Comment by N.L. Belardes |Edit This
2008-09-13 13:31:04

You just don’t know. I used to live in Yugoslavia. I ran an orphanage. They called me “Cricket the Finger Master.” I collected fingers from all the kids whose parents I thought were Iron Curtain spies back in the day. I did that until I reformed and moved to California where I decided to collect bug legs instead.

But I can go back to the kid fingers. I’m getting all spinny-eyed.

Where’s my oldest child? I’m starting with him.

Spinny-eyed, Irene. Spinny eyed.

Spinnnnnnnny Eyyyyyeeeeszzzzz…

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-13 15:58:29

I thought you only had girls. You lie, angry cricket with attitude!

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-16 03:44:56

Oh, NL! I LOVE your new hat! It completely changes your look. Completely.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-17 06:59:54

Did you do this just to make me look like an idiot calling you an angry cricket?

Comment by Cayt |Edit This
2008-09-12 16:38:36

Wow. This is Lenore’s other grandmother, surely…? Not the one who tried to make her sleep in vomit.

But, your whole family is just…wow.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-12 16:54:26

Yes, Cayt,
This is the very same grandmother who tried to make Lenore sleep in Benjamin’s vomit. This is where Lenore got the idea. She is defaming me just because she has a black black heart.

Comment by lonny |Edit This
2008-09-13 14:05:07

if the vomit were in a strong freezer zip lock it would be a great pillow

i think

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Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-13 16:04:19

Lonny, I think that is true. However, from experience I have to say that there is no zip-lock that actually locks. I have traveled many miles with liquids “sealed” in zip-lock which leaked all over my luggage. In a perfect world, a bag of zip-locked vomit would make a passable pillow, but this is the real world, Lonny. Not buying it. Besides, if you read Lenore’s post about this a million years ago you would see that the vomit was encased in nothing whatsoever. It was just on her pillow and sheet. No zip-lock bag. ( Actually, I’m pretty sure that “zip-lock bags” did not even exist yet. We were stuck with the flimsy bags with twister ties. They NEVER held anything well.)

Comment by Tim |Edit This
2008-09-13 19:14:48

If I may step in here:
Lonny’s point is a valid one. We’re talking perfect-world Ziplocs here.
Quit being such a killjoy, Ma.

Comment by Adam |Edit This
2008-09-13 20:16:54

My friend Pat (the same one with the briefcase cat, Lenore) had a bag — like a plastic shopping bag — of vomit nailed to his bathroom wall for like months, I want to say.

I swear I am not making this shit up.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-14 01:14:56

Sorry, Tim, I had no idea we were talking about the Platonic Ideal of the zip-lock bag here. I stand corrected in the world of perfection.

Adam, I HOPE you at least got a picture of that! (Sorry, I have to ask, was Pat a girl or a boy?) I’ll bet he/she is residing at the happy farm now. Or else he/she is living in a cabin in the wilds of Appalachia, miles from anyone else, stocked up with guns and ammo and dried foods in aluminum foil bags and shooting his/her own meat. And grumbling. Doing a lot of grumbling to himself/herself.

His/her parents ALLOWED this? Too late to call in DCFS I guess.

Comment by Adam |Edit This
2008-09-15 00:21:37

He’s a boy. There’s a picture of him in the “Heroes” section of my MySpace profile.

Pat kinda had dominion over the basement. I don’t think his mother went down there more than she had to.

He’s sane.

He’s living in Seattle, playing Anarchy Online.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-15 09:58:56

For some reason I couldn’t write this up where I wanted to, (where you mentioned this.) You called my Mom “Nana” . How did you know that’s what my kids called her? Just curious. I never said it.

Comment by Adam |Edit This
2008-09-15 14:34:28

I pay attention. And, yes, I was like that as a kid.

Comment by Jess |Edit This
2008-09-12 19:46:32

Irene, your stories are beautifully written and fascinating, to boot. Is it too much to hope for a collaboration between mother and daughter?

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-13 05:30:10

HA! Jess, I’m pretty sure she’d kill me in the process. She is not known for her patience with me. Maybe YOU could talk to her? (Drug her?)

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-15 10:00:16

Besides, Jess, Lenore is a bona fide writer. Her fiction can turn you inside out. I just tell stories.

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Comment by marcia |Edit This
2008-09-12 20:01:19

Wasn’t your mom trained as a nurse? That makes it even funnier. It’s the part about the nail scissors that really gets me.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-13 05:32:34

YUP, Marcia, she was a Registered Nurse. I’m sure she meant to sanitize the stump very professionally after the amputation.

Comment by Adam |Edit This
2008-09-12 22:33:01

My father has somewhere around nine fingers total, with the deficit apportioned among three of them.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-13 05:33:14

Did his mother do that to him?

Comment by Adam |Edit This
2008-09-13 11:57:41

No, he accomplished it himself, through his own ingenuity.

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Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-13 12:46:33

In what way did his trimming of three fingers further his interests? I find this puzzling. How many fingers do you have? (Like father, like son?)

Comment by Adam |Edit This
2008-09-13 14:33:05

I don’t think dismembering his fingers directly served any interest. Rather it was a collateral effect of his ingenious rigging of a circular saw to act as a table saw, which in theory would have furthered the interest of building a bookcase or a loveseat (I forget which he was working on at the time). Of course, in order for this to work, he had to bypass the circular saw’s safety mechanism — probably something akin to tying down the bail of a lawn mower with a bandana, although I don’t know the details.

I inherited both the kind of smarts he exhibited in that case and the kind he didn’t, as well as ten fingers, which I have retained due in part to periodic strokes of luck.

It was less a trimming than a hacking, followed by a virtuosic reattachment (I also forget the surgeon’s name — I’ll get back to you on that). The phalanges he pureed were all intermediate.

He’s told me he most misses wiping his ass with his dominant hand.

My mom tells me that as she was driving him to the hospital, hysterical, at least one other driver was purposefully obstructing her. She hypothesizes that the other driver just thought she was a boorish driver, and she has since taught me if another driver is hellbent on passing, to just let them pass, which I have taken to heart.

Comment by Adam |Edit This
2008-09-13 16:04:02

Allen Van Beek was the surgeon.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-13 16:20:41

“He’s told me he most misses wiping his ass with his dominant hand.”
Oh Adam. I totally agree. When my arthritis acts up, the sinister hand is just not up to the job.
Glad you have ten fingers, even if it is due to dumb luck. It’s the end point that matters, after all.
Allen Van Beek was a terrific surgeon.
Sara and Lenore both cut off the ends of their thumbs.
Sara was using a mandolin and cut off the end of her thumb. There were guests in the house, however no matter of sifting could find her thumb end. She seems to have grown back a passable thumb end.
Lenore was working nights in High School at a supermarket in the deli section and….(Okay, really Lenore should tell this story because it is hers and it is hysterical.)

Comment by Adam |Edit This
2008-09-13 18:38:54

Meat slicer. Yeah.

I’ve got a nice scar on my right middle finger from one of those. When it was all stitched up, from one side it looked like it had been severed and reattached, but my meat slicer was turned off, so it stopped at the bone.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-13 19:07:56


Comment by Adam |Edit This
2008-09-13 20:04:16

I love that somehow I earn the strong reaction in this thread. Empathy is a wondrous and at times seemingly arbitrary thing.

In re: Sara, I just realized that you probably meant “mandoline,” although the mechanism would still be essentially the same as in my initial, more ridiculous vision.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-14 01:19:29

Sorry, misspelled that one. (Although it is a more interesting story that way….)

Just explain to me how you almost severed your right middle finger with the meat slicer turned off. I’m picturing you rubbing your finger hard against the non-turning blade. Why would you do such a thing?

Comment by Adam |Edit This
2008-09-15 00:39:49

I worked at a sandwich shop, and I was cleaning the thing. We used it to slice all the meats as well as the cheese. I was wiping cheese from the face of it. It was tacky, so I was applying a lot of downward pressure and getting used to a certain amount of friction as I wiped hard back and forth in a tight pattern. Anyway, some cheese came free or something, reducing the friction, and the force I was putting into wiping hard in a tight pattern got put into wiping hard in a much looser pattern before I noticed it. I made one large sweep off the edge of the blade, and drew back along the curved edge. My fingertip kind of rode the curve around, resulting in a 180-degree slicing. There are like a million-some-odd nerve endings and fibers and whatnot in the fingertip, and although this took like a quarter-second, I swear I felt each damned one of them severed individually, in sequence.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-15 10:05:17

I say again: EEEEWWWWWW!

Comment by Sara Zion |Edit This
2008-09-13 04:26:20

I like how you write, Ma. I know the stories well, but I like how you tell them. )

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-13 05:34:25

Sara, that is so nice. You didn’t even get the willies this time. Good job!

Comment by Sara Zion |Edit This
2008-09-13 04:28:42

Wow. I have always hated those little yellow smilies with *eyebrows.* Now I know where they come from: evil editing programs that translate ” : ) ” into :). Ick. Now I am one of *those people.* Oh well.

Comment by Sara Zion |Edit This
2008-09-13 04:29:27

And it didn’t even work when I tried to explain.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-13 05:37:45

Sara, you could NEVER be one of “those people”, (not that I know who you mean,) because you are super different from anyone else on earth. (In a good way.)
The HTML rules are different on TNB for some reason. It’s messed everyone up who tries to use the regular kind.
You have patience. You would explain it to me if you could. Thanks.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-13 05:44:42

You have to put quotation marks around happy faces, etc? Why can’t you just type it?
I’m going to try it both ways and see what happens: : ) “: )” The first was without quotation marks and the second was with. did the second one turn me into one of “those people”? I shudder at the results.

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Comment by Adam |Edit This
2008-09-13 11:59:19

“:)” “: )” ) : )

Comment by Adam |Edit This
2008-09-13 12:01:43

Got it: you need no attached punctuation and no intermediate space. Sara’s period — Sara’s dot — interfered in her explanatory comment. Irene’s space did.

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Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-13 12:49:21

Adam, you are really good with puzzles. Were you like that as a kid too?

Comment by Adam |Edit This
2008-09-13 14:36:05

I think the only pronounced fundamental changes I’ve undergone since infancy have been in height and vocabulary.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-13 16:23:09

Your height and vocabulary are both strikingly wonderful.

Comment by Christine |Edit This
2008-09-13 05:56:06

I love this story. MORE MORE MORE stories!!!!!! I like the one where you lived in Trieste and tried to get all the kids to fly off of that stump.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-13 06:32:37

I think that’s an old one in my myspace. I can certainly rewrite it better for TNB standards. I was just talking there. Christine, I can’t think how else you’d know that story. You should be writing down the stories from your kids. Better to have a record of how wonderful they are before they turn on you. Actually even after they turn on you it makes good material. They almost always come back to you. Some with more patience, than others.
By the way, I just adore your picture, (heck heck heck, what is it called? avatar, no. gravatar!) I think that’s it. I love your gravatar.

2008-09-13 06:15:02

Irene, this is glorious!

As for a tiny emoticon tutorial: if you put the close parenthesis directly after the colon (no spaces) you get this ) (a smile) – same thing using a semi-colon you get this ;) (a wink). I think if you reverse it or put any spaces in it or use other characters like dashes and things, you get bupkis.

) 🙂 ) 🙂 ) 🙂 ) 🙂 ) 🙂 ) 🙂 ) 🙂 ) 🙂 ) 🙂 ) 🙂 ) 🙂 ) 🙂 ) 🙂 ) 🙂 )

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-13 06:38:30

Just as an aside, I’m not used to reading a post that I wrote and it’s set up differently. I looked at your name and I thought it said:
Comment by Kimberly M. Wetherell / Eat This
Took a second look cause it sounded more like Lenore than sweet you.

Anyhow, thanks, now I know why I got bupkis. I’m going to try to make the two different yellow smiley faces. I hope I’m still educable.

) ;)

I appreciate you’re trying to teach me. We’ll see when I hit “add comment” if it worked.

Comment by Adam |Edit This
2008-09-13 12:03:49

I should’ve read ahead, it seems.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-13 12:52:57

No, Adam, without your explanation we wouldn’t know why Sara’s smiley face with the period didn’t work. I’m going to call her now and explain it. Do you know how good it makes me feel to explain something computer-related to my genius daughter? Oh Yeah, I’m so smart now!

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Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-13 06:39:15

HA! Educable still! Thanks, Kimberly!

2008-09-13 06:48:14

Educable. Sounds like Lunchable.

Eat that!


2008-09-13 08:44:26

Great story Irene– I can see where darling Lenore of the fabulous handsocks gets her wit and wonderful perspective! I also enjoyed the reference to one of my favorite stories as a kid, whose title you wisely did not use and I will not use in this note as it is so controversial now.
Do you really think your father was a spy?
I want to be a spy!

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-13 08:52:31

I loved that book, Jessica. Maybe they could clean it up and write it for today’s audience. Wouldn’t be that hard.
Yeah. I’m sure of it. He was a marine engineer who worked on ships. Trieste was a huge port for that part of the world, still is. He was missing, scoping out secret engineering secrets, etc., behind the iron curtain. Knew lots of languages, but pretended not to. It should have been strange, but it felt normal to me. Wasn’t good for family life, though. Always away, left there with my certifiable mother.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-13 08:54:44

THAT was bad writing. “secret engineering secrets?” I’m so embarrassed!
Must learn to proof-read. Must learn to proof-read. Must learn to proof-read.

Comment by lonny |Edit This
2008-09-13 14:00:30

i have heard that fingers are not the necessary anymore
in todays modern world with everything so zoom zoom
you can do everything with voice command

with the exception of my current typing i never use my fingers

i guess this story did take place in some prehistoric period of the earth that i can not spell
so perhaps back then fingers were more important

my grandma was always so interesting
and unpredictable
and she made awesome cookies

finger away!

Comment by Stephanie |Edit This
2008-09-13 18:41:01

Thanks for letting me know about your new post.
My mother is another neat freak, but I think she would have punched me instead of trying to remove my dangling pinkie finger. (That’s just her way of coping with “being irresponsible”)

Everyone has odd habits, and methods.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-13 19:09:10

You are smart beyond your years, Stephanie!

Comment by jmb |Edit This
2008-09-14 11:19:02

It seemed like a dream, too good to be true,
when God returned Zion’s exiles.
We laughed, we sang,
we couldn’t believe our good fortune.
God was wonderful to us;
we are one happy people.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-14 13:13:10

I save everything you write. You think in poetry, don’t you? I wait for your shadowy figure each time I write. Glad you’re not a number anymore. People should know your name. People will know your name.

Comment by debby |Edit This
2008-09-14 14:26:09

loving your stories. keep up the good work. looking forward to the next one.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-14 17:37:15

Thanks Debby, I have dog stories too!

Comment by Cecile |Edit This
2008-09-14 15:10:33

Like the way you tell a story never leaving out one gruesome detail! It is compelling enough so as to wonder the fate of your brother later in life. I do have some idea, however. Did that experience sort of push you in the direction of marrying a surgeon?? As long as he was cutting on some else I guess you felt safe enough, cause it couldn’t be you. It gets better and better.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-14 17:39:12

Nah. I fell in love with his aura. When I met him he had a glow all around him and I knew he was the one. Didn’t know bupkis about him. True story.

Comment by Lisa |Edit This
2008-09-14 19:31:24

I never knew what Woody did to his finger. Very glad to have that mystery explained.

Thank you and happy Sunday.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-15 03:51:41

I think this was the incident that turned him away from being a knight in shining armor. Until he was 8 I think he had had plans to save the world, or at least all damsels in distress. Impaling himself and having no one around to help him was horrible enough, but to go home where he was supposed to be safe and have his own mother try to sever his finger was intolerable. There’s a reason this is seared in our memories. I’m sure psychologists could have a field day with the scenario of a mother attempting to amputate her son’s appendage.

Comment by keiko |Edit This
2008-09-15 05:21:07

Poor proprioception = seriously clumsy! I’m going to use that new definition every day at work. Thanks

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-15 09:48:04

Keiko, you can use that in describing people without their knowing what it means.
My brother had a stroke some years ago and he has no proprioception at all in his right foot. For this reason, he has to use a cane. He cannot feel his foot at all, so he has no idea how he is putting it down. It could be crooked or he could be stepping on top of his toes because his foot bent back but he wouldn’t know it. If he didn’t have a cane, he could easily fall. It’s really scary. Getting old is not for sissies, as they say.

Comment by Emma Ashwood |Edit This
2008-09-15 06:18:49

Irene, I love your stories. But oh, your awful mother. That should be scripted into a horror story. The mother looming over her child with gleaming nail scissors in hand: ‘Just let me clean you up!’

And has your brother got a scissor phobia now?

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-15 09:55:05

Let’s just say when it came to pick which silver goblet he wanted to keep after they died,(we got them for their 25th wedding anniversary), he picked the one that said “DADDY”, not the one that said “MOMMY”.

The thing about my mother was she was always sure that she was doing the right thing and really resented any interference. Complete confidence in your own actions comes more easily when you’re off your rocker. I figure that I must be okay, since I second-guess every single thing I do or say. That may not actually be healthy, but it makes me feel better to believe it.

Comment by Rob Bloom |Edit This
2008-09-15 11:07:30

Irene, you are delightful. Like a ray of sunshine on TNB. Warm, inviting, justwannasoakitup sunshine.

And now that you know how to post emoticons, you’re unstoppable.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-15 12:38:54

Thanks, Rob!
But I have been stopped!
I need to learn how to post pictures!!!! No one will show me. (Poor, pitiful me!)
I don’t need to turn words blue and send people to Wikipedia or elsewhere, but I DO want to use pictures with my stories.
Emoticons are great, but just don’t look like my family. (I also learned how to cross things out, from Cayt. That’s fun.)

(Wow, “delightful” that was really sweet. I’m going to savor that for a good long while!)

Comment by Erika Rae |Edit This
2008-09-15 13:10:15

Hold the phone, everyone…96 comments, and no one has asked how young Irene was saved from the swing incident??? As far as we know, she was rescued by a pack of wolves. Help us out here, Irene! Were you unconscious? There must be a story here all on its own?

I love your stories – keep them coming!

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-15 15:42:20

Well, I just came to and walked home. No one ever mentioned me passing out. At the hospital they just took care of Woody. He truly looked like the one who had need of looking after. Maybe that bout of unconsciousness was good for me. If it hurt me, I don’t know how. Maybe I would have been a genius. Oh well. My life has been just fine in spite of it.
Thanks for asking, Erika Rae, I remember wondering what I was doing alone on the ground under the swing. But, then walking home seemed the thing to do at the time. I didn’t know that I had passed out until my brother told me much later. Glad I woke up in time for the excitement, though!

Comment by Erika Rae |Edit This
2008-09-15 17:22:32

Totally crazy being upstaged by your brother like that…who in turn was upstaged by your mother. And while I can’t speak to whether it prevented your genius status (although, you seem awfully smart to me), I’ll bet the experience DID make you tougher!

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Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-16 03:41:44

Well, Erika Rae, I was only five years old, remember, so everything that happened to me seemed to me the way life was. I became conscious alone under the swing, so I imagine I must have thought I had fallen asleep. What did I know about unconsciousness?
I never thought I was tough until I needed to be. Surprised the pants off me. I’m plenty tough. Scary tough.

Comment by Kate |Edit This
2008-09-15 13:30:44

okay, so i knew your mother was crazy, but i didn’t realize it went that far. yikes! was that the closest you guys ever got to losing body parts? there must have been other close calls.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-15 15:43:36

There’s a lot more Mom stories, but I think that may be the only one involving the possible amputation of a body part. (I’ll have to think, though…..)

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-11-06 06:23:09

Well, Kate, there you go. I don’t know how I forgot the foot amputation. Perhaps I wasn’t ready to remember it enough to write it. Now I have. Hope you like it.

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Comment by Ruthie |Edit This
2008-09-15 14:04:45

Another great story. I’m surprised you didn’t walk around with your hands in fists forever. Luckily you are obviously very resilient. Why does your story make me want to run and do my nails?

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-15 15:47:39

Well, Ruthie, I think you appreciate having ten fingers with ten nicely shaped nails because you had a mother who adored every part of you and would never have cut parts of you off.
Go get a manicure. Get a pedicure while you’re at it. Treasure your digits.
(I can’t say that I ever thought I’d say the phrase: “Treasure your digits.” It’s amazing what comes out of my mouth.)

Comment by Adam |Edit This
2008-09-15 22:40:36

That came from your digits, though. Suddenly, it makes sense.

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Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-16 03:43:36

That was good, Adam.
I think I’m a storyteller, though, so when I’m writing I’m really talking.

Comment by Alex Devoto |Edit This
2008-09-17 04:18:34

oh man there must have been a lot of blood. You poor mom must have spent a week cleaning since blood is hard to take out. Thank god your dad was home, but did anyone ever find out you were knocked out by the swing? very funny in a sick way.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-17 07:07:01

I found out when my brother told me, but not for years and years later. I never until then knew what I was doing alone at the park under the swing. I was only 4 or 5 then, didn’t know much. I don’t think my parents ever did find out about my being knocked unconscious.
It was entirely a Woody story. I wasn’t part of it.

Comment by Ursula |Edit This
2008-09-17 10:31:21

Your story Irene, could have been sold easily to the producers of “Tales from the Crypt.” Unfortunately I think that show is off the air. Like Ruthie said, it would have been “fists” for me forever. What an experience, your poor brother.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-17 13:35:11

I did learn to keep my distance, Ursula. That I did learn.
Well, sure Woody had a bad experience, but his finger turned out fine and he got all this attention and cool scars to boot. I’m pretty sure that if I hadn’t come out of my semi-comatose state on my own I would have been there all night until some nice Italian person found me and called the Italian equivalent of 911.

Comment by ksw |Edit This
2008-09-18 06:19:07

you only need one finger to pick your nose, and two to remove dingleberrys…so what’s the big deal???

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-18 06:32:30

Oh my God! I thought Victor made up the word “dingleberrys.” I can’t believe it’s a real word. GROSS!
On the other hand, sometimes a pinky is just the right size for something. You shouldn’t underestimate the power of the pinky.

Comment by Squeaky |Edit This
2008-09-18 11:17:11


As a six year old I fell out of a tree and cracked my head open on an exposed pipe coming up from an otherwise harmless backyard. My father was smoking weed at the time and, when driving me to the hospital, was very frustrated with the amount of blood leaking from the back of my head onto his seat.

Parents have funny ways of dealing with injuries to their children. At the beginning I was with your mother. I thought she was going to clean out the wound or remove infected tissue or something. But in the end her true intent reared it’s ugly head. I argue that your brother would have 8 fingers today had your father not been home. She would have looked at the two hands and said, “Well these don’t match up at all. Let me clean up that other hand so they look alike’ and then poof would go the other pinkie.

I feel very strongly about this.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-18 12:46:50

I swear that is just what I think. I’m sure if my Dad hadn’t been there she would have “cleaned up the first pinkie” and then been horrified that they didn’t match. Off would have come the second, just as you said! I’m not even sure she would have stopped at that. Once you start trying to even things out, it’s difficult to stop!

I’m so glad that your backyard was “otherwise harmless.” Did your Dad get rid of the pipe after all this was over? My Dad was also very concerned about the state of his car. I’m sure blood must have really inflamed your Dad. Did you have a concussion? Heads really bleed a lot. I learned that in the kid-raising biz. Also tongues. Tongues bleed like a house on fire! I bet if you have kids they can bleed all over your car and you will tell them it makes no difference to you because you just want to get him/her some help, and you love him/her more than some stupid upholstery.
I’d also like you to know that figuring out how to spell “upholstery” took a really long time, but I didn’t give up. What through me off was my stubborn belief that it started with an A. Turns out, it doesn’t. There you go.

Comment by Squeaky |Edit This
2008-09-18 19:32:54

You hit my parenting style directly. In fact I’d like to share more of my philosophy with you, but it involves the fantasy that Lenore is my wife/mother of said children and I think that crosses some lines that usually (see: Always) get me in trouble.

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Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-19 03:26:57

Well, Squeaky, you have my vote. Unfortunately for you that will not help with Lenore. She only does the opposite of what I say. It’s a thing we do. I’m working on doing the opposite of what she says, but she doesn’t seem to notice, which sort of takes the sting out of the exercise.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-19 03:40:03

Something is reversed here. The kid is the one stupid enough to be using drugs. The parent is the good role model who eschews all manner of mind-altering substances. Right?

Comment by Ken |Edit This
2008-09-18 16:12:17

That story completely freaked me out!

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-18 16:24:23

Oh hi, Ken,
This is true life! I thought you were totally cool with reality. This is my actual mother and just wait until you hear more of my life with with her. I’m pretty sure I avoided scarring my kids, but then, they’ll have to tell you that. ( I am just a bit worried about their response, here. Seriously, I tried my best not to be as crazy as my mother. It was a full-time job.)

Comment by donald |Edit This
2008-09-24 05:44:17

Im assuming your mother also performed the bris…..

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-24 09:45:18

OH. Donald. God. Forbid! That is a very seriously scary thought. His poor little baby unit. I shudder at the very thought!

Comment by Amy |Edit This
2008-09-27 06:43:23

Your mother and my grandmother must be related. We should talk!

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-27 08:44:51

Oh Amy, I am so sorry to hear that. I really think that one of my mother in the world should be enough. Although. You might have some zippy stories to tell…. Why don’t you tell us a story about her? We’re listening….

Comment by John B |Edit This
2008-10-01 07:57:03

What a roller coaster ride, this story and thread… By the time your daughter made the remark about getting hit with wine bottles, I was feeling downright disgusted…and a little bit scared. Once I realized that she was just bustin’ your chops, I almost spit Starbucks on my keyboard. What an ingenious follow up… I can see why her milkshake brings all the boys to the proverbial yard…

Anyways back to your story, for the love of Jesus, tell me that you just have an equally morbid sense of humor as your daughter?!? I mean…you CAN”T be serious, that your mother honestly wanted to cut her kid’s finger off??? That’s the most psychotic thing I’ve read in ages.

I realize that people born during the psychological dark ages (say…pre-history to 1970 or so) were more or less aloud to abuse their families with impunity, but Jesus H! If your story is true, then your mom would rank right up there with those schizophrenic Christians in Texas who try to scald the sin off of their children. And your wording doesn’t even betray a grudge…You’re frying my CPU over here. Say it ain’t so Irene (lie if you have to)!!!

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-10-01 09:19:10

Lenore is ALWAYS busting my chops. She LIVES for it, in fact. You can’t believe the things she says about me that she thinks are hilarious, but readers BELIEVE! She drives me nuts! Then Tim chimes in and does the same thing, but he’s not as adamant about ruining my reputation. He’s just having fun and knows where to draw a line.

John B, I swear to you that this is exactly what my mother did. She was one wacky mother to grow up with, I can tell you that. I have stories that will curl your hair, although I have to admit that this one is pretty much the most graphic.

I don’t know what “frying your CPU” means. I am pretty sure that I have no intention of frying it. Why don’t you tell me what it means and then I’ll know for sure.

Lenore and I do sort of have an equally morbid sense of humor. Is that a bad thing?

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-10-01 10:27:16

Besides, John B, if psychotic people don’t do psychotic things, who will do them?

Comment by John B |Edit This
2008-10-01 10:28:18

In your daughter’s defense…satirically accusing you of things like assault with a wine bottle, and you apologizing only to vomit into her pillowcase IS friggin’ genius. As they say on the street, “don’t playa-hate….congratulate!”
The fact that you guys can joke like that is very telling. Together, you’re putting the fun back in dysfunctional !

Using words like “wacky”, and “creative”, to describe your mother makes me guess that you’re either A:highly compartmentalized, B:at the tail end of 20 years of intense therapy, or C: on valium. In any case, you have a beautiful sense of humor and I commend you. I’ll save my judgmental comments regarding your dad for a later date (your story sort of struck a chord with my own baggage….what’s worse, the deranged abusive mother, or the “sane” father that repeatedly impregnates her? I swear it’s like the whole concept of having “standards” when choosing a mate never even existed until a generation ago).

CPU stands for Central Processing Unit, it’s what makes your computer compute. I was basically saying that you were blowing my mind…I didn’t think you story could be true, at least I didn’t want it to be…You seem so well adjusted for a being raised by the type of woman that puts the turkey in the bassinet, then wonders, “now WHERE did I put that baby….”

Yes your morbid sense of humor is detestable. Awful. I can see why Nick wants to kick your polar bear dog.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-10-01 10:40:33

Earlier on, John B, George said that my mother sounded like a hoot. If you look back I said that growing up with her was less hootful. Much less hootful. I try to use language that is appropriate to be read on line. Lenore is not bound by such rules. Her stuff is more fun to read probably partly because she has no filter between her head and her fingers.

Were I speaking to you in person, I might very well use some colorful words to describe her. She really wasn’t “abusive.” She was nuts. Stark raving nuts. Sort of hard to blame her for the stuff she did when she wouldn’t even be responsible in a court of law. She BELIEVED it was the right thing to “clean my brother’s hand up” that way. She wasn’t being mean. She was being tidy. Terribly tidy.

Thanks for telling me what CPU means. Yet something else I’ve learned since I got here.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-10-01 10:41:23

Oh. Nick KNOWS not to try to kick my polar bear dogs. (And you better too, Buster!)

TAGS: , , ,

IRENE ZION has been married to the same curmudgeon for 40 years. She has 5 children, none of whom sufficiently appreciates her. The one you probably know is Lenore, who frequently gives her mother hives. Irene paints oil portraits and makes her own frames. She has been described as an outsider artist. Most of her paintings creep people out, especially her family. She finds this to be greatly satisfying. She writes non-fiction for TNB and loves every minute of it. She is writing fiction now too, but is too chicken to show it to anyone. She has two golden retrievers who will inherit anything of worth she leaves behind. Her kids will delight in dividing up her famous cork collection and her notorious stockpile of bubble wrap.

2 responses to “Why My Brother Has Ten Fingers”

  1. […] two stories involved in Sara refusing to ever help us out again. They both involve the infamous NANA, of nail scissor […]

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