When we were kids, we thought that our cousin Mike was the Incredible Hulk.

I can’t recall if Mike “suggested” to my brother Chad and me that he was the mean green man, or if Chad simply saw the resemblance and thought that he had uncovered the Hulk’s plain-guy identity, but we thought we were related to a comic book hero.

At the very least, we figured that Mike was Lou Forigno’s body double: he was a short, sculpted bodybuilder with a massive, muscular chest and arms, and he had that signature Lou Forigno/Patrick Swayze feathered hair. Certainly they wouldn’t overlook him as Forigno’s wingman to take a stunt-beating on-film.

We were maybe six and seven—Chad my elder by a year—when Chad charged the neighbor kids a nickel admission to our garage to see the Incredible Hulk, right there in the flesh in Douglas Drive. He had a whole following on our block.

The Hulk’s most impressive performance was flexing his pecks to the tune of “Jingle Bells,” making his chest muscles jump up and down to the beat of the song as he hummed it. We begged him to do it every time he came up from Peoria to visit.

In his late 30s and early 40s, Mike was a hero to us in the way that older cousins can be: someone you admire because 1.) they’re older than you are, and 2.) they’re the model of the kind of adult you want to become: smart, funny, and successful. He drove a convertible Alfa Romeo Spider and made the five-and-a-half-hour drive to our cabin in four hours.

He was cool as hell.

Our family didn’t discover that Mike was an alcoholic until 1996, when, following his divorce, he came to live with us during the summer between my junior and senior years of high school.

My dad noticed Mike sipping Cokes at our cabin during the day—all day—and caught a whiff of vodka in the can one afternoon. Then the booze in our house started disappearing. Mom and Dad (to remove temptation) gave the rest of it away; resourceful Mike drank the cooking sherry. Bottles and beer cans started appearing in strange places, and we would continue to find them for months to come: behind my dad’s shaving cream in the medicine cabinet, under the counter with the Tupperware, beneath a pile of sheets in the linen closet. He hid his habit all over our house.

Over the summer, Mike’s drinking escalated until the day he led a drunken high-speed police chase along Lake Pulaski to our front lawn. When the squad cars circled around our driveway, the curious neighbors thought my teenage brother was getting into trouble—not our grown cousin, with his master’s degree, his (now-lost) business, and his (now-ex) wife.

It was jail time or rehab, and Mike opted for the latter. It was the first of two treatment programs he would undergo during his foray at my folks’ that summer, followed by the first of two times that he would begin drinking shortly after release.

By fall, Mike was barely coherent. Red-faced and glassy-eyed, he would take his seat at the dinner table with a dopey, vacant smile on his face and contribute awkwardly, with delayed timing, to family conversations.

Then one night before I went off to watch a high school football game, Mom and I found Mike unconscious in the basement, propped upright in a recliner. He was unresponsive. We called 911.

The paramedics managed to wake Mike before taking him off to detox. He looked around the room in a haze, blinking, blinking, blinking, with no one steering the ship. He was an empty shell. The paramedics told my parents later that they had never seen a person with as high of a blood alcohol content as Mike’s was who was still alive and not in a coma.

After rehab stint #2, Mike resumed drinking before he even made it back to our house. Mom and Dad told him if he wouldn’t stop, he had to leave.

He disappeared for more than a year after that. No one in the family knew where he was, or if he was even still alive.

Over the next 13 years, Mike surfaced sporadically: in Illinois, in Texas, living for periods of time with family, on the streets, with a girlfriend.


Mike was 56 years old when he died last month, with my father and uncle holding his hands in a hospital room in Texas.

Before slipping into a coma, his dying request was that there be no funeral, no wake, no memorial service. Nothing to mark that he ever existed. Just a cremation of his body and disposal of the ashes.

Surely there would be something: some words said over his body or uttered before a photograph of him when he was healthy, with his urn on display by a bouquet of flowers. Or perhaps a gravestone marking his life, carved with a wise and warning epitaph: “Don’t follow my path. Choose life!”

But there was, as Mike requested, nothing.

In the end, he was simply snuffed from life by a sickness that stole from him even the desire to be remembered as sober Bruce Banner, a god of my youth, the Incredible Hulk.

We got this phone call.  It was approximately 3:30 AM when the phone rang. It was winter. It was cold. Victor and I were fast asleep in our woolies. Victor answered the phone.


“Dr. Zion?” a voice said.


“Yes,” he answered.


“We have your car, Sir.”

“What car?” he asked.

“Your stolen Thunderbird, Sir,” the voice replied.


“We don’t have a stolen Thunderbird,” he answered.



“We have your stolen car,” the voice insisted.

“Hold on a minute,” Victor said.

Then Victor ran to the garage to make sure we still had our bright red 1989 Thunderbird. Her name was Christine. It was an obvious moniker, if you knew our family.


Victor ran back and grabbed the phone.


“Our Thunderbird is not in the garage!” he said.


Duh, the voice would have said, but he was very polite and did not. “We have your car,” he said again.


Then Victor asked the policeman to hold on again. He ran upstairs to the kids’ rooms and Tim and Lenore were sleeping soundly.


He ran back downstairs and grabbed the phone.


“What should we do?” he asked.

The policeman asked us to come to identify our stolen car.


Victor threw on a coat and I threw on my down coat over my flannel pajamas. We drove in our not-stolen car to the site in Savoy, Illinois, where our stolen car was abandoned, doors akimbo, engine running.


The police said that they had had three police cars in hot pursuit of Christine. She was driving very fast through residential neighborhoods. They almost caught the perpetrators, but they were too good and they got away. They left the car, running, and the keys were missing. It wasn’t damaged, but we needed to get it towed to get it re-keyed.


I was irate. I asked that the police fingerprint the car. They nodded, but it wasn’t done. We couldn’t even turn off the engine. I was getting more irate. I demanded that they fingerprint the car. They nodded.


Finally we got a tow truck to tow our unfingerprinted Thunderbird to the dealership to get it worked on. We filled out lots of papers. We answered lots of questions. We were tired and pissed.

The next day there was a huge headline in the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette:




Things were pretty slow in Champaign-Urbana, so it was a long article. I have it somewhere because I saved it but I have a problem saving things. I always put important things somewhere safe. That, unfortunately, translates into somewhere that can never be located again. My mother was this way too. She once saved three two-pound coffee cans full of actual silver dollars in a safe place. It was such a safe place that she couldn’t find them. Ever.


You would think that after we got the car back with new keys that that would be the end of it and it was, for several years.


At this later time, Tim decided that he should fess up to some shenanigans he was party to at a younger age.


I always had trouble digesting what was being said to me when it wasn’t something that emphasized the glorious nature of my beautiful, precocious, brilliant children. It’s a problem. For instance one day Tim spent the whole day with pink hair. He had light blond hair every day prior to this. I saw pink hair but blamed it on the lighting. I didn’t question why the lighting would have changed this particular day. I accepted that the lighting was making Tim’s hair appear pink. At dinner I said, “Tim, the lighting is really strange today. Your hair appears to be pink!” Lenore and Tim then burst out laughing and explained to us that Lenore had dyed Tim’s hair pink. They had been waiting impatiently all day to shock us. I had trouble believing it. In fact, to support my point of view, Victor didn’t see pink hair either. We’re idiots.

Another time I was explaining to Lenore that we would have to actually inspect her skin for something I’d rather not get into.


“Then probably I should show you this,” she said. She proceeded to lift up her shirt to show me a design she had put on her tummy with a ballpoint pen.


“Show me what?” I said.

“It’s a tattoo, Mom,” Lenore said.


“Don’t be ridiculous. You drew that on with a ballpoint pen. I thought you had better artistic skills. You should rub it off and draw something better. Perhaps it is the wrong angle for you to draw. Draw somewhere else,” I said.


It took me a very long time to be convinced that this was an actual tattoo. First, it was inconceivable that Lenore would have a tattoo. She was only 16. You had to be 18 to get a tattoo without a parent’s permission. Second, it was really, really ugly. It looked like a map of her right ovary, which was on the skin on top of her actual right ovary. But. It turns out that Lenore, my 16-year-old daughter, actually had a really ugly tattoo over her right ovary.

But I digress. Tim was in a place in his life where he thought that being totally honest with us was essential. (I wasn’t actually in that same place, enjoying my version of the truth totally, thank you very much.)

It turns out that the nasty thieves who stole our Thunderbird were in fact Tim and Lenore. They were joyriding in the middle of the night.

This might be the place where I advise all parents to get an alarm system that goes off if anyone opens the windows or the doors while you are peacefully sleeping in complete denial.


They were driving at a high rate of speed, according to the police. These were children who knew their way through all the side streets. Better, I guess than the police did, since three police cars were not able to catch them. They had in the car many illegal items. Each time they lost a police car for a moment they hurled one illegal item from the car. Since they had just purchased a brand new “beautiful” glass bong, they were very sad to throw that out of the car after the items, which they were using in the “beautiful” glass bong. They were littering. On top of everything else, they were littering. I’ll bet they were not even wearing their seat belts!


When they finally got rid of all things illegal, they got far as they could from the three police cars and stopped the car. They jumped out of the car, leaving the doors open. They threw the keys into the cornfield and ran home unseen. When Victor went upstairs to check on them, their guilt threshold was so low that they were actually sleeping like babies.

I wish I could find that article. It just proves how incredibly stupid parents can be. It’s somewhere here in this house. I’m sure my kids will find it after we die. That and the three two-pound coffee cans.



Comment by Lenore Zion |Edit This
2008-09-03 16:58:08


also, you guys were so fucking stupid.

Comment by Josie |Edit This
2008-09-03 17:19:14

Well…… were you wearing your seatbelt, young lady?

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-03 18:55:07

I just BET they were NOT wearing their seat belts! It’s just the kind of thing they’d do if I weren’t there to refuse to drive the car unless they complied. Back in the old days when I drove a carpool with five pre-kindergarteners. It was a 45 minute drive on the highway each way. There would always be one kid who would unbuckle while we were driving. I would just pull on to the side of the road and say nothing. Just wait. They finally got it that if they were not buckled, we were going nowhere. Kids are so easy when they are little.
By the way, Lenore PROMISED that she would stay five and not get any older. She totally lied. She’s WAY more than five now. Lenore lies. Trust me on this.

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Josie |Edit This
2008-09-03 23:12:55

…in the snow and uphill… both ways…


(Lenore’s Mom) – you’re funny.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-03 18:19:56

We completely had the wool pulled over our eyes because you were all so GOOD in the daytime.
(What does <3 mean?)

Comment by Cayt |Edit This
2008-09-04 16:46:58

If you incline your head ninety degrees clockwise, you’ll see a heart.

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-04 17:56:55

But it’s crooked. I think I can make a better one: &hearts

did it work?

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-04 17:57:46

Cayt, I will study up on this and do better next time, promise!

Comment by Lenore Zion |Edit This
2008-09-03 17:07:10

also, thank goodness i had that ovary tattoo covered up. otherwise i wouldn’t be a real Jew.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-03 18:20:45

Remember: If you are Jewish enough for the Nazis, you are Jewish enough for Israel!

Comment by Nataly |Edit This
2008-09-08 08:54:48

This line is a classic!
P.S. You were not an idiot- you were outnumbered.

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2008-09-08 17:46:32

Lenore and Tim just got back from Israel and that is what they say there. True words.
Damn, thanks for that out! I WAS outnumbered! Five dissembling children, two disloyal dogs and about 3 – 5 disinterested cats at the time. Thank you for an excuse that seems to carry some weight here! You rule, Nataly!

Comment by Ben |Edit This
2008-09-03 17:13:28

See, I was totally unaware of the drama going on in our family. Was I a sound sleeper or something? How is it that Lenore and Tim could be breaking in and out of the house every night and I wouldn’t know it?

(Do cars ever get stolen in Champaign? You guys really are stupid.)



Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-03 18:23:43

Well, it’s good to know that the adults were not the only brain dead occupants of the house. We came to think that you knew all along, but didn’t want them to get in trouble. That you didn’t know is a shock!
Your own brother’s car got stolen. You bet. The Midwest is a hotbed of car thievery!
(What does <3 mean?)

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-03 18:56:18

Why won’t anyone tell me what <3 means? it looks like a butt with a dunce hat on.

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Radam |Edit This
2008-09-03 21:23:54

It’s a sideways, crappy, ASCII heart.

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-04 05:30:05

Okay, I’m out of my league here, what does ASCII mean? You people are no help at all. I’ll bet you don’t even help old ladies cross the street.

Comment by Eusebio |Edit This
2008-09-04 12:23:29

“Why won’t anyone tell me what <3 means? it looks like a butt with a dunce hat on.”

This is a butt: (__i__)

..or at least i like to think so.

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-04 17:59:22

Eusebio, that is one excellent butt! Congratulations!

Comment by Adam |Edit This
2008-09-04 20:07:07

I’ve tried at least thrice to post here in response to your question about ASCII, but it never shows up. At least for me. I can’t shake the unreasonable suspicion that you’re all seeing my longwinded post over and over and over and wondering what’s wrong with me.

My guess is it overran some clandestine length limit because all the HTML I used is totally legit, according to the little guidelines I see even now — and because there turned out to be a clandestine length limit to MySpace comments that required me to bisect the response and reverse the halves like a clever fucker.

Anyway, I’m sure you’ll see it there before you even read this.

Comment by Adam |Edit This
2008-09-04 20:12:16

For anyone and everyone’s enjoyment, here is a link to an outstanding example of ASCII art, which was probably the highlight of the response and which far outshines the heart and butt above.

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-05 03:39:27

Adam thanks!
I can see why you denigrate the sideways crooked heart when you know pictures like that can be done with ASCII. That was amazing!
I was taught a way to make a great heart, but it doesn’t show up here for some reason. You could still tell me what ASCII stands for….

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-05 04:45:35

“thrice” HAHAHAHA

Comment by Eusebio |Edit This
2008-09-05 15:53:50

Adam: “far outshines the heart and butt above.”

Um….Adam: my butt rocks!

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-06 03:06:02

Remember: beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
I love BOTH your butts.
(That may not have come out exactly as I had meant.)

Comment by Tim |Edit This
2008-09-03 19:54:54

Ben, you were only aware when candy was involved. Now, if we were talking blue candy, you were as aware as one could dream to be.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-03 19:59:29

This, my dear Ben, is the God’s honest truth. You were the KING of blue candy! The only reason you even got to EAT candy is that the four before you wore me down so flat. The first bunch never even tasted chocolate, let alone the chemical-ridden blue candy you craved.

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Josie |Edit This
2008-09-03 17:15:46

What a funny headline. You should send this blog to the paper and have them print an “after the facts” follow up story. And Lenore’s first comment should be included. lol

Tim was in a place in his life where he thought that being totally honest with us was essential. (I wasn’t actually in that same place, enjoying my version of the truth totally, thank you very much.)

I loved that – I can totally identify with this dichotomy!

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-03 18:26:38

I think that unless you’ve been through such a thing, you cannot imagine how clueless parents can be. We believed they were PERFECT. How this happened right under our noses, I cannot imagine. Truly, the only conclusion is that we were idiots.

Comment by Cecile |Edit This
2008-09-03 17:30:13

As I read this tale it sounded so familiar as if I lived through this with someone. Well I actually did! Truth is definitely stranger than fiction. The characters all turned out just fine.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-03 18:27:57

They did. I think that is proof that there is a God, since we were too stupid as parents to influence them one way or the other.

Comment by N.L. Belardes |Edit This
2008-09-03 17:31:58

My kids once toilet-papered their old elementary school.

That’s all I got.

I’m the one who causes trouble in my family. My kids are the calm, reliable ones.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-03 18:28:40

OH. Tell us what you did! We won’t tell your kids, promise!

Comment by Josie |Edit This
2008-09-03 23:14:19

You are such an instigator.
I love it!

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-04 05:31:38

The cricket with attitude is really a chicken, Josie.

Comment by N.L. Belardes |Edit This
2008-09-04 09:09:07

What I did? You mean what I’m constantly doing…Read my installments of Thick White Crust. I’m not afraid to lay my life out there for everyone to pick apart like chicken bones. There’s 5 chapters on TNB so far. Woot!

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-04 09:21:45

A thousand pardons, angry cricket. You have a different picture. I didn’t know that was you! Pure ignorance. “Thick White Crust” is so gross that I was afraid to read it. Now I will. (Woot?)

Comment by N.L. Belardes |Edit This
2008-09-04 10:42:42

Not even sure if I’m a cricket… you’ll have to go look and tell me. Woot is kind of like saying: Cool! or hooray! or Weehoo! or slap me silly!

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-04 18:01:50

Oh, Angry Cricket, thanks for explaining a great new word to me. Woot! Slap me silly!
Wonderful. You are a smart, helpful angry cricket.

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-06 03:11:14

Angry Cricket, I looked and was surprised to notice you were wearing glasses.
This is not unlike my inability to see mustaches, or, in turn, seeing them shaved off. Two of my close friends had mustaches forever, then one day they were gone. I never noticed. In point of fact, I thought each had lost weight.
You look nice and trim with your glasses.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2008-09-06 17:42:13


Comment by cindy |Edit This
2008-09-03 17:34:24

ok… so much for the Brady Bunch of Savoy.. alarms won’t work.. if the kid wants out( house or family) they are gone you know better!

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-03 18:29:15

There has GOT to be a way….

Comment by ksw |Edit This
2008-09-04 18:09:58

several , none of which are legal or “Dr. Spock” approved.. at least you spawn snuck out, ours backed out of the garage with the door still down guess who

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-05 03:44:05

Come back. Sometimes things just don’t get posted correctly, through no fault of your own. I myself have tried to put things up in the past and nothing shows up so I do it again and again and then all of a sudden my post is up six times.
Obviously only part of your post showed up. Please post it again! I got a glimmer, your kids sneaked out with the car but forgot to open the garage door? That is something I definitely want to hear more about!

Comment by lonny |Edit This
2008-09-03 17:39:16

personally i am not at all surprised that they out ran the cops
that car had some serious pick up

i could list some of the times i drove way to fast in it but i wont

i however will say that when parents like the ones in this story
(my parents, by the by)
who have many children grow blissfully clueless as time goes by
but i was in college by then – what do i know

i will also say that
it was not that they were stupid
it was a lack of want for the knowledge
truth is less nice than fiction

sometimes? all the time? you be the judge

my mom is funny
so is my sister
go team

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-03 18:34:18

That car was a tank! That was it’s purpose: to keep you all safe! Not to be able to outrun multiple police cars. This is something that had never entered our heads.
It’s true that it is easier to believe there is nothing untoward going on, but honestly, we really wanted to know what the kids were doing, we were just clueless. (And need I mention the two HUGE sentry dogs who made not a whimper of sound to warn us? Obviously the dogs loved you kids more.)
You’re pretty funny, too.

Comment by Melissa |Edit This
2008-09-03 17:54:39

You made my evening,,, that was so funny, Kind of like when my daughter came home with a belly button ring and tried to convince me that her innie belly button was now an outie. THAT was the bulge under her shirt.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-03 18:46:43

You know you wanted to believe it. Well, probably you were a smart parent and knew she was screwing with you. I think it’s to late for me to try to be a smart parent.

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-04 05:33:44

Melissa, I keep thinking about the belly button thing. How can they think you would buy the transformation of her innie to an outie? (Did you buy it?)

Comment by Melissa |Edit This
2008-09-04 07:19:12

Irene, no I did not buy it at all,,,I told so many tall tales to my mom and dad, these kids could not pull anything on me. Ok well the two oldest ones. The youngest one got my BS genes. Boy can that kid spin tales.

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-04 18:03:04

I hate it when other parents are smarter than I am. (But I will attempt to be humble here.)

Comment by George |Edit This
2008-09-03 17:55:54

This is really a funny story, and I learned a new word, “akimbo”. Painless vocabulary-building.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-03 18:35:23

I love you, George, and my arms are akimbo while I say this.

2008-09-03 17:56:30

Irene… will you be my mommy? This is stupendous!

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-03 18:36:34

Absolutely. I always wanted ten children at the least, but I would’ve had to have the last four without my husband, who originally wanted two. (I won.)

Comment by marcia |Edit This
2008-09-03 18:04:15

In retrospect it probably was a good thing that the police refused to fingerprint the car. . . I can’t believe they were sound asleep by the time the police called. Truth is stranger and funnier than fiction!

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-03 18:39:46

OMG! What if they had listened to my badgering and actually fingerprinted the car? My own kids would’ve been arrested! I was so stupid that I just was sure it was a gang of no-goodniks who went around stealing cars and that their fingerprints would be on file.

Those little creeps were dreaming happy dreams before the Police knew who the car belonged to. No guilt. None! That’s why we believed them. They acted like the pros.

Comment by Tim |Edit This
2008-09-03 19:57:39

The police were hot on the trail of a tall man with an orange afro. We’d’ve been OK.

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-03 20:02:29

Huh? Were you wearing wigs? I certainly didn’t hear this part, but I’d believe anything now. I’m almost past surprise.

Comment by Tim |Edit This
2008-09-07 23:47:36

No. No wigs. That would’ve made everything even cooler. The police told the News Gazette’s crime reporter that they saw three people get out of the car and run, and that one of them had a large, orange afro.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2008-09-08 03:41:09

I completely forgot that! And there were actually four of you in the car, right? They didn’t have much to go on with that description. (If I could only find that article….)

Comment by Megan DiLullo |Edit This
2008-09-03 18:15:20

I love stories like this… not only do you get a different perspective, but we get some more dirt on Miss Lenore.

I have mentioned to Lenore how wonderful I thought you were from her stories. Now I get to hear your stories. This is magnificent!

Welcome to TNB, darling. I look forward to reading more.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-03 18:43:49

Oh Megan, oh Megan, I have so much dirt on Lenore I could write forever. And, remember, she’s only one of five. I live to humiliate her. HAHAHAHAHA she will be sorry I ever got on this site! (If I knew how to do it, I would insert here Brad’s evil laugh that moves across the page. That is really impressive.)

And, Thanks. You’re beautiful.

Comment by Matt |Edit This
2008-09-04 11:55:38

i agree. it was fun hearing this story again, but from mom’s point of view. the zion family should write a book together telling the same stories from different perspectives.

good work irene!

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-04 12:08:01

You rock, Matt. (When you aren’t telling evil stories about my baby!)

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Matt |Edit This
2008-09-06 19:50:44

i never make up stories about lenore. obviously you just choose to disregard the dirty truth about her. (she’s a slut).

(and so am i).

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2008-09-07 05:14:59

Matt, I know you well enough to know that you are not a slut but you should not speak nasty about your friend.

Comment by Lenore |Edit This
2008-09-07 19:10:12

i am a slut.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2008-09-07 19:47:01

Gee Whiz, Lenore, Maintain a little decorum, here!

Comment by Bruce |Edit This
2008-09-03 18:51:31

Nicely done, irene

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-03 18:58:49

Thanks, Bruce.
Were you always smart, or were you a stupid parent too?

Comment by Keiko |Edit This
2008-09-03 19:00:20

Awesome! Rainy sold you out. I’m going to read it a few more times because it made me laugh so much. Please write more.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-03 19:06:47

Rainy Night made not a sound, neither did Moussey, our 145 pound newfie. I think they had gotten used to them sneaking out at night while we slept and thought it was perfectly normal. Of course, it turns out that in our house it WAS normal. Can’t blame the dogs, I guess.

Comment by Gina Frangello |Edit This
2008-09-03 19:10:14

Wow, this is so hilarious and alarming all at once! I have 8 year old twin daughters who, other than bickering with one another all the time, are really, really “good”–now I get to look forward to being totally bamboozled by this perfect-kid behavior only to find out they are really stealing my car and throwing drugs out the windows in an OJ-like car chase. Jesus Christ. Thank goodness you guys live in freaking Champaign-Urbana; in Chicago, one of the cops would probably have opened fire on the car and you’d have gotten a call that your kids were in the morgue. (This is good incentive for me to get out of Chicago before my kids steal my car; I guess I have 7 or 8 years?)
I remember driving around in my parents’ car with my three friends in the backseat snorting coke right off the plush car seat because we’d gone over some huge bump and the coke spilled all over the place. They were all on their knees just snorting the car seat, and I remember thinking that if my mother and father could see this, they would have a pulmonary embolism on the spot. I was never a “perfect” kid (pretty far from it), but I think parents–at least the nice ones like you and my mom–always see their kids in an unrealistically kind light, ha.
Great story! And I love Lenore and Tim sleeping the sleep of the just, totally unperturbed. That is truly scary, from the point of view of someone who is now a mom!

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-03 19:34:15

Gina, Gina, you have far fewer than 7 or 8 years here. You will be bamboozled big time way sooner than that. But the thing is, you won’t know it until 15 years from now when they decide to tell you a “funny” story. Get alarms on your doors and windows. Not to keep the bad guys out, to keep your beautiful girls in. Trust me here. There are probably other things to do, but I swear to you we thought we did them all. We totally trusted them. (Again, we were idiots, plain and simple.)

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-04 05:40:40

I can’t believe you and your friends were sniffing the car seat. The image is too jarring for me to line up with your sweet, mid-western, angelic young mother look.
I shudder to think what they would have done in a big city. Here they were in a small town and they found quite enough to occupy their nefarious interests. They might’ve been shooting out the tires of the police cars in Chicago!

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Radam |Edit This
2008-09-03 19:23:57


Those’re some scummy kids you’ve got there, lady. From what I can discern, though, Tim seems to have turned out okay.

P.S. I’ve thought about blogging here many times. But every time, I think I’d rather post on my own site. With lame contextual ads. Making money 1/1000 of a cent at a time.

But I never do it. Salut!

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-03 19:35:37

Radam, I’m only doing this to get Lenore back. You know she deserves it, evil spawn that she is.

Comment by jmbl |Edit This
2008-09-03 19:30:59

Lenore is always five, inside.

Please write here regularly.
Few people can pull off that tone,
where you read their writing, you feel like you had a visit with them.

In another life, can I be
Lenore’s little brother?
I want her to carry me on her hip
and teach me bad things.
Want to grow up in your house
a little while.

Comment by Ruthie |Edit This
2008-09-03 19:37:45

Truth is always stranger than fiction. You did have some warning. Remember when Lenore came home from the Middle School dance and reported that she saw my dear child of 12 years driving around in my car? You called us right up and gave us the wake up call about this which we greatly appreciated as we did not have a clue our little darlin’ was capable of such sneaky, dangerous behavior. But I guess it did not penetrate that your little darlin’s were capable of the same. Somehow, luckily, we all survived this, underage drivers included. Your tale makes a great story though. Maybe our kids did these things so we could have stories to tell in our old age….

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-03 19:47:30

Who knew their legs were even long enough to reach the pedals?
It is, to my regret, easier to believe the crazy actions of someone else’s child, while your own is robbing the corner store….Blinders. Blinders come with the birth of your child. Can’t take them off if you don’t even know you are wearing them.

Comment by Mark Rotunda |Edit This
2008-09-03 19:40:21

HAHA! Good job Tim and Lenore. I don’t think I could have pulled that one off with Nora. But then again, We didn’t want to steal a Rolls Royce.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-03 19:49:17

Oh you could have done it, but your Dad’s car was well known, whereas our little Thunderbird wasn’t. You needed to steal OUR car. Then you could have gotten away with it. We know my dogs wouldn’t have alerted me.

Comment by Jim |Edit This
2008-09-03 19:40:55

All parents are idiots, and I’m certainly one of them. Do they still make Thunderbirds? I think they stopped. I’m never buying one anyway, especially now.

Thanks for the peek behind the curtain of the Zion family history — you kick ass, Irene!

Welcome to TNB and please share with us more thrilling tales of Lenore the ovary-tattooed child.

<3 = wizard ass

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-03 19:54:58

I think they make Thunderbirds. How could they stop? Apparently they are not only tank-protective but “bitchin’ fast”. Can’t stop making something like that.

Wizard ass makes no sense. I think you are joshing with me.

Comment by Jim |Edit This
2008-09-03 20:25:48

They stopped production in 1998, then resumed in 2002. Maybe I was thinking of the Cougar. Or the Edsel. They’ve redesigned the Camaro — now there’s a bitchin’ car. (See the Dead Milkmen’s Bitchin’ Camaro.)

You’re right. It’s wizard balls.

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-04 05:44:52

Unfortunately, both wizard ass and wizard balls look right, but I think you are engaged in some devolution here. I fear what you come up with next. Why doesn’t someone just tell me the truth? Go on, Jim, see what further abomination you can make out of this: <3

Comment by Tim |Edit This
2008-09-03 19:40:56

The soundtrack included Bone Thugs-n-Harmony. More specifically, their break-out hit, “Me No Surrender.” And that bong WAS beautiful . . .

All you had to do was feed Rainy. She’d jingle out to say hello, eat, and regally prance back to bed.

Remember, you both ran upstairs. Dad first into my room, then you into Lenore’s.
(We weren’t asleep.)

Nice job, Mom, and good luck to all of you new moms.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-03 19:52:03

YOU WERE TOO ASLEEP! Tell me you’re lying! We SAW you sleeping. We HEARD you sleeping. No way, Jose!
Rainy was such a turncoat! Moussey too.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-03 20:08:05

I remember your making a serious point of how very beautiful that bong was. I remember it was the last thing to be thrown out of the car. Is there something beautiful made of glass I can get you that is not tainted with an illegal smell? I’ll buy it. I will.

Comment by Mark Rotunda |Edit This
2008-09-03 23:07:56

Did CEDU make you come clean with that Tim?

Comment by Tim |Edit This
2008-09-03 23:59:44

You got it, Mark. Perhaps unnecessarily. That among many other (and if I could use a buzzword) disclosures.

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-03 19:42:38

If I had a wish
I would go back in time
I would take you as my own
Our house would be fun again
We would be eating strange foods all together
As a family again.
Drawing outside the lines,
Making trees purple and sunshine red,
People green and fish in the sky.
But I’d like more children
And I’d be more
More careful.

Comment by Jim Simpson |Edit This
2008-09-03 20:29:00

Adopt me please.

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-04 18:05:11


(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-18 05:44:17

This was for jmbl, but by the time I got it written all this space was filled up between the message and the response. I am one lousy typist, slow and inaccurate.

Comment by reno |Edit This
2008-09-03 21:34:04


you know, irene, the first time i read your daughter’s stuff i knew that she had something. her voice. there was something IN there that appealed to me. the self-effacing jabs, the deadpan one-liners (always great dialogue). but more importantly her stories are absolutely hysterical.

one of my favorite writers in neil simon. the Goodbye Girl is brilliant. Biloxi Blues and Brighton (sp?) Beach Memoirs are my favorite movies. family stories. odd stories. life stories. this story fits in that mold.

(if you want to read a brillaint storyteller and reno’s all-time fav read John Fante. beautiful writer. a wordsmith like no other. hee-larious voice. love him to bits.)

after reading your story i can see where lenore may have “borrowed” a thing or two. two different styles. but the voice is similiar. it’s a character in itself.

the story was great. i was laughing. i love laughing. the doc’s dialogue w/ the fuzz had me rolling. sleeping in your “woolies.” ha. but what the hell are woolies? just wool PJs? or is this some weird mid-west garb? it doesn’t really matter. i laughed anyhow.

and then you crazy people made the paper? good god. again: rollling.

well, great vibe on this one. thanks, irene.


Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-04 05:51:44

Thanks for the skinny on good writers. I’m always reading and always looking for new people to read. Never heard of John Fante, probably should have. There are great gaps in my knowledge base.
I could never wear wool…too itchy. Woolies are just warm soft nightclothes people wear in the winter when the wind is whipping through the walls, it’s so cold.

I HATE that I can’t find that article! The list of things put in “safe” places is endless.

Did you paint that skull? The other one?

Comment by reno |Edit This
2008-09-04 10:04:51

john fante is an L.A. writer. died many years ago. anyhow, i found him through one charles bukowski (another L.A writer). i checked him out and ended up devouring most of his material. funny characters. boy stories. great storytelling with a punch. he wrote Ask the Dust, Wait Until Spring Bandini (this novel contains his alter ego “arturo bandini”), and countless others.

check out a short story collection of his. he has tons. i think you’ll like him. okay, that’s it, man. have a great day.


(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by reno |Edit This
2008-09-04 10:07:09


(no i didn’t paint those skull babies. stole them from the net.)


Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2008-09-07 05:20:11

Nefarious Flying Lemurs? Can’t find it on my TV guide, Reno! What channel? How was the first episode?

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-05 03:52:30

Lenore and I are close and have the same sense of humor, but that girl is a perfect gem of a writer all on her own. There is a short story she wrote quite awhile ago on lemonpuppy.com

It’s just a taste but her full-on fiction will knock your socks off. Guaranteed.

Comment by Erika Rae |Edit This
2008-09-03 22:18:03

I will also voluntarily put myself up for consideration for adoption into the Zion household. This was a great story, Irene. I’m sitting next to my sleeping 5-year old right now, trying not to wake her up with my laughter. I’m also experiencing the strange desire to tag her with an ankle tracking device. And Reno’s right – I definitely recognize something of Lenore’s storytelling in your voice. Different, but familiar. You guys are like a dynamic duo. I can’t wait to hear more. SO funny.

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-04 05:55:35

She’s much to smart for an ankle tracking device. She’d have it unlocked and in the toilet in 10 minutes. You need to chip her. If I had my kids today, I would chip them all and carry around the tracking device with me all the time. And you know the kids you see in airports with leashes? I’d do that too. Well into their twenties. Taking no more chances here. Uh uh. I’ve learned my lesson.

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-04 08:22:37

too, not to. Told you I was an idiot, Erika.

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-04 18:06:44

You are definitely adopted; I get a granddaughter in the bargain! (Woohoo!)

Comment by Jim Simpson |Edit This
2008-09-04 18:16:37

…and you’ve got my two girls. So there’s THREE!

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-05 03:53:39


2008-09-05 07:08:37

All you get from me is one gen-u-ine wall nipple.

Top that, you breeders!

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-05 10:59:21

Kimberly, you KNOW you can never have too many nipples. They are very useful.

Comment by Christine |Edit This
2008-09-04 06:12:45

Their guilt threshold was so low…

I’m laughing so hard about that one right now…

I can picture it vividly in my head…sleeping Lenore….sleeping Tim….no guilt whatsoever…hahahahaha!

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-04 06:31:10

Christine, they were BRAZEN! Tim is lying. They were peacefully asleep. A parent can tell that much. Shameless and impudent. I have to say that my kids are great at anything they try. I just wish they’d tried to do something legal and less dangerous..

2008-09-04 06:22:41

Oh, I loved this. Especially this: It looked like a map of her right ovary

I agree with Reno, there is definitely something borrowed/shared here in the voices of Lenore and her way awesome mother.

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-04 06:33:21

Jennifer, you go ahead and ask Lenore. It was FOREVER before I would believe my own eyes. That’s how far into denial I was.
(I want to live in your gravatar to, but can I bring my dogs?.)

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-04 08:31:56

What is wrong with me? too too too, not to.

(Comments wont nest below this level)

2008-09-04 10:02:13

yes, you can live in my gravatar. Dogs and hats are required.

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Megan Leah Power |Edit This
2008-09-04 06:51:39

IRENE! You wrote your own post! Bravo and encore.
Lenore’s literary lineage is apparent, like others said, and there’s something wonderful about tracing it. I too love the surprise that peacefully sleeping Lenore and Tim were car thieves. Great anecdote.

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-04 08:24:36

The tip of the iceberg, Megan, the tip of the iceberg.

Comment by sarah from school |Edit This
2008-09-04 07:15:12

Your mom gets more comments than you, Lenore.

Comment by Lenore Zion |Edit This
2008-09-04 07:44:28

it’s cause she’s hotter than i am.

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-04 08:26:32

You talking about hot flashes?

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-04 08:25:54

That’s only because she’s too busy showing her breasts for readers.

Comment by N.L. Belardes |Edit This
2008-09-04 12:29:04

I like bug legs!

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-04 17:43:01

Angry cricket-God speaks!

Comment by Kyndra |Edit This
2008-09-04 14:24:01

This is a great story that had me laughing the whole way through! Funny, well-written, light, and relatable. Keep the Zion-tales coming!!

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-04 17:45:31

It’s strange how things that are seriously not funny at the time, actually horrifying, can somehow become hilarious when time mellows things out and you know the participants turned out okay in the end in spite of everything.

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-05 03:56:28

Thanks, Kyndra. The next comment is for you also. I forgot the “Thanks!” part. No one taught me any manners.

Comment by Amy |Edit This
2008-09-04 16:14:37

So this is what I have to look forward to in my new found motherhood. I know I did things that surprised my parents once they found out. Yikes!

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-04 17:47:57

Be on guard. Trust me. Put in secret movie cameras. Put GPS chips in their cell phones. Even then, they will slip by you and do unconscionable things. Just hope that in the end they turn out okay. Usually they do.

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-04 18:15:53

Yours will be fine. You have relatives everywhere to help keep watch. We had no one but one crazy, one legged old woman. Count your lucky stars!

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Cayt |Edit This
2008-09-04 16:57:05

Irene, you win at life.

I’d kill maim hurt someone for just one day in the Zion household while Lenore was growing up.

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-04 17:50:03

Me too, Cayt, me too. Time goes so slowly before you have kids and then starts rolling downhill faster and faster. Breaks your heart. You can come now, though. We’ve plenty of room and the kids come home to visit often. (But not often enough, you know how it is.)

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-05 03:58:30

Cayt, some other time would you teach me how to write in gray and cross it out like that? that is really amazing.

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Cayt |Edit This
2008-09-05 11:49:52

Sure, it’s pretty simple. It’s html is all.

Before the text you want to cross out, you type the word “strike” in those triangle brackets. Like but without the asterisk. After that word, you type (again, remove the asterisk).

So, you can cross out whole sentences by putting them between the first and second lots of brackets.

Or, you can cross out single words.

Crossing it out will also automatically turn it grey. Or, gray in your part of the world.

Comment by Cayt |Edit This
2008-09-05 12:06:36

Aww, man. My demo didn’t work.
Try again: first you type

to close off, it’s

Comment by Cayt |Edit This
2008-09-05 12:07:44

I’ll have to find some other way to teach you, since the comment boxes now hate me.

Sorry Irene (

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-05 15:44:51

I love that you are trying to teach a new student some new code.
Did that work? Cayt you are my idol. (even if it doesn’t work.)

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-05 15:47:32

I forgot to put in the last sideways V thing. I’m such a dope!
Here goes again:
You rock because you are willing to teach odd, strange people to do things that are new to them.

(Did it work this time?)

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-05 15:48:53

I’m just not getting this. But at least I know how to cross things out. i just can’t figure out how to stop crossing things out. Humn. Cayt, you rock.

Comment by Cayt |Edit This
2008-09-06 04:18:12

To stop crossing out, you type /strike in the brackets.

And Irene, you’re probably the coolest person I’ve ever had the pleasure of communicating with.

Comment by Victor |Edit This
2008-09-06 06:45:35

No one can say I ever give up. Here goes again. This is hopeless. I’ll never get it. I stopped learning things when I passed 25 I am convinced that this will work! Thanks for hanging in there with me, Cayt!

Comment by Victor |Edit This
2008-09-06 06:46:14


Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2008-09-06 06:49:41

OOPS! sorry, the last too were me. I didn’t know Victor read this or wrote anything, so his name was left up. That was me talking. He would never say anything approaching “Woohoo!” He has class.

Comment by Cayt |Edit This
2008-09-06 15:59:24

I say woohoo! all the time. I said it when I saw that our combined efforts had paid off. You can now cross stuff out!

Irene Zion: Winner of the universe.

Thanks for commenting on my blog, too )

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2008-09-06 17:48:30

Cayt, you are a British gem!

Comment by LKM |Edit This
2008-09-04 17:24:06

Jesus, Irene – 95 comments in 24 hours? You’re the most popular nervous breakdown writer ever…

I didn’t even know you guys knew the truth about that night until I read your post. Tim’s a tattler.


Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-04 17:53:30

Lisa, did you know too? You evil best friend of my little innocent Lenore, I forgive you. It’s really better I learned of all of this after I had some distance from the event. (By the way, I have some seriously embarrassing pictures of you too!)

Comment by ksw |Edit This
2008-09-04 17:58:42

Consider the fact that you actually purchased a red thunderbird sc with entry key pad on the door. Were they all out of purple ones with green leather?

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-04 18:09:56

KSW, How did you know? We missed one just like that by just THIS much! You know EVERYTHING about cars!

Comment by Lenore Zion |Edit This
2008-09-04 18:47:32

just so everyone knows: my mom is totally down to adopt any of you. she’s like a crazy cat lady, but with humans.

but my dad loves me the most, and he always will, so don’t go trying to compete for his affection.

you will lose.

mom, i’m so proud of you, even though you want to replace me with everyone on the comment board.

and: it’s a fucking heart, stupid.

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-04 19:26:09

I love you, too. You will never be replaced.
It’s a crooked heart and it’s lying on its side.
I think it’s a butt with a dunce cap who fell over.
nuf said.

Comment by Kate |Edit This
2008-09-04 20:56:49

And my mom thinks Caroline is difficult! Ha.

I must say, something confuses me. How could they take the keys out of the ignition with the car still running? I don’t understand.


Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-05 04:03:58

We have to ask KSW that. All I know is that the car was running and the keys were gone, way later to find out they were thrown in the cornfield. I don’t know diddly about cars.

If your mother reads this, she’ll feel WAY better about Caroline. I think her greatest crime is a little pouting. (and maybe she would stamp her feet a little when she was smaller.)

Comment by Christine |Edit This
2008-09-05 06:14:10

So why ditch the keys? Was it for safety in case the cops stopped two white kids running through the cold looking shifty and asked them if they knew about the running car? Perhaps it was running without keys because there was a time when you could pull keys out of the ignition while it was running and as long as you didn’t turn the car off, the keys would slide right out. Nowadays, the cars have a safety mechanism to keep you from yanking your keys out.

So tell us the ancient Chinese secret Lenore or Tim, did you ditch the keys to cover your tracks or do you at this time not give a shit, nor did you not give a shit at the time and it was just something that happened as part of forming who and what you are today? Ohm….

I need a nap after that.

I’m in the Irene’s my MAMA club. It’s complete with lots of apostrophes.

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-05 11:03:33

I think they threw the keys in the cornfield because they were in an altered state and didn’t know what they were doing. Decision-making skills are the first to go. But that’s just my guess. We have to ask Tim and Lenore. The perpetrators know all. (If they can remember anything through all the fog in their brains.)

Comment by Tim |Edit This
2008-09-05 13:36:22

Dissipated though we may have been, our strategery was flawless:
Knowing that there was some mechanical glitch (and perhaps this was by design, can’t says I know) with the ignition switch that allowed you to start the car with the valet key, then remove it without turning the thing off, and knowing theft would be a hell of a cover story, we elected to ditch the valet key with the car running and run home, hang the regular keys on the Zion-keyhook, and fake sleep.
No fog. Thinkers, we were.

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-05 15:53:57

YOU TRIED TO GET THE CAR STOLEN? Holy Mackerel, this gets even worse all these years later!
The keys WERE hanging in the key spot, so I suppose, were I an evil juvenile delinquent-type I would have done the same thing, given I could still think clearly.
You were truly amazing miscreants! I think I’m actually proud.

Comment by Christine |Edit This
2008-09-07 16:25:09

Wow, evil geniuses! Now that’s a plan!

Comment by donald |Edit This
2008-09-05 06:44:47

i now know that i do not want children…..thank you irene!!!

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-05 11:05:06

Oh now Donald, you know that there are good parts that completely outweigh the bad parts. Don’t be so cynical, it ages you.

Comment by Sara Zion |Edit This
2008-09-05 07:57:32

Finally, it really starts to be funny now. Still a little stressful for me to laugh too hard about. Glad everyone is OK. I am not sure if I missed a whole lot of fun or if I am glad that I was a *very* good girl during adolescence. Nicely written, Ma. This is very cool.

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-05 11:07:20

Sara, you were so weirdly perfect that I have virtually nothing to humiliate you with. I’ll scour my memory banks. There must be something. Oh. Wait. I already got something! HAHA, something for later….

Comment by Adam |Edit This
2008-09-05 13:52:54

That’s all of them, right? Soon as Victor weighs in, you can call this a virtual reunion.

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-05 15:55:18

He won’t read it! What can I say? Maybe later….

Comment by ken |Edit This
2009-02-28 01:03:54

Would that be Sara Zion who would have graduated Central HS in 199o ?

Comment by Autumn |Edit This
2008-09-05 08:37:46

Reminds me of the time that my mother got a call in the middle of the night (one of MANY late night calls) about my oldest brother. It was his girlfriend’s mother. My brother was 16 and I believe the girlfriend was 14. The call was to explain that my mother had better take a look outside, and was her van there? No, it was not there. It was parked outside the girlfirends house and my brother and the girlfriend were in the girlfriends parents camper in the back yard.

I remind my mother all the time of what a wonderful daughter I was because although I did some things she may not have liked, I had nothing on my two older brothers. They were very naughty, and my sisters and I, in comparison, were saintly.

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-05 11:09:34

It’s always good to have lots of siblings. One of them is BOUND to be worse than you behavior-wise. Autumn, we could have used you and your sister in our family.

Comment by rachel |Edit This
2008-09-05 09:44:02

is this the red thunderbird lenore drove?
most of my high school memories live in that car.

nice job, irene!

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-05 11:12:00

The very same, VDW, the very same. We wanted a purple one with green leather, but red it was. Actually turned out to be a good thing. There were more red ones around. A purple one would have been identified much more quickly. After all, we didn’t actually want our kids arrested.

Comment by Emma Ashwood |Edit This
2008-09-05 09:55:16

Irene – it’s great to have you writing on TNB. It’s like when a much-loved character gets their own spin-off. Can’t wait to read more.

And Lenore: you bad girl!

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-05 11:15:26

Oh, Emma! Lenore continues to be a girl who tests my patience. Something permanent in her make-up. But I’ll say one thing: life has never been boring since her birth. Nope. Not one day. And there is NOTHING worse than boring.

Comment by Ursula Balagura |Edit This
2008-09-05 10:09:37

My friend Irene never ceases to amaze me. Her story gives the reader an amazing glimpse into what it was like being a “kid” in the Zion household. Challenging for the parents but it must have been fun for the kids. I have nothing to compare it with. My life has always been among adults and Rottweilers. Where children are concerned I can only look in amazement to my friend Irene.

Your story Irene begins like a mystery and definitely keeps you wondering who was the culprit. After confirming that Lenore and Tim were sleeping peacefully in their beds who would have suspected them. The police should have listened to you about fingerprinting the “vehicle” but of course since neither Lenore’s nor Tim’s fingerprints were on file with the local police department that would have given to positive results. Everything turned out OK though and your story is a funny part of your family’s history and what a successful family it turned out to be.

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-05 11:24:22

Ursula, remember, I didn’t find out they were the dastardly no-goodniks until quite a few years after this happened. They were ASLEEP. How could we even suspect them?
Thanks for telling me that they would have had to have their fingerprints on file. I totally forgot that. I cramp up each time I remember I kept demanding fingerprinting the car. Now I can feel okay about it. Thanks!
Speaking as a mother and a dog owner, I would have to say that dogs treat you with much more respect than children. And they ALWAYS love you, no matter what.
There was a far-side cartoon once when Atilla the Hun returned home from burning, raping and pillaging and his dog runs up to him panting and his tail wagging. Dogs even love you if you are Atilla the Hun!

Comment by Jack and Laurie |Edit This
2008-09-05 10:44:15

Just another typical day in the life of the Zion family. Who would have ever suspected that the saintly Lenore and Tim would, and could, pull off such a stunt. Obviously not the trusting parents – Irene and Victor. Laurie and I were just lucky that our children were not clever enough to try something as daring. Your story brings back fond memories of us watching your kids grow up. Of course, it was easy to be an outside observer; from the inside I suspect the view was quite different.

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-05 11:28:29

Actually, since we were completely clueless, Laurie and Jack, it was totally fine. We were ignorant of all their shenanigans for so long that we lived in blissful unenlightenment. It’s a nice, comfortable place to be, blissful stupidity.

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-05 15:59:13

SAINTLY? I had not one saintly child, certainly not Tim and Lenore! Laurie and Jack you have forgotten my family and replaced it with someone else’s.

Comment by ksw |Edit This
2008-09-05 10:59:44

christine is correct, in fact they both are. keys could come out with car running back in the day. the garage door story was from caw under my name because this wacked out web site won’t take her email for some reason. i think she wanted you to guess which kid tried to back out of the garage with the door down. not too hard for you i am sure. starts with m and ends with ichael. to be fair, the savoy police department was actually the champaign county sheriffs and they were very widely spaced in the day. good luck for the chillens rather than fabulous autocross technique. too bad they never tried it with the porsche. would have been much more fun….

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-05 11:37:37

Wait, KSW, do you mean that the child who starts with m and ends with ichael, who shall remain anonymous, actually kept driving after smashing through the garage door? That is fantastic! What a good story! Didn’t get caught either though, huh? Kids got away with murder in Central Illinois!
This IS a whacked out web site. I learned all these cool code things but they don’t appear here when I try them, even though they appear just fine on myspace. Also you can’t put up pictures, which would be fun.
God, I love this story. Kept driving after wrecking the garage. Great material.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2008-09-07 05:42:22

I’m sure all of you are more quick-witted than I but in case you missed it, KSW said BOTH Christine’s are right. Get it? The Thunderbird and Christine who came up with a theory. KSW is so scintillating.

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Christine |Edit This
2008-09-07 16:29:13

Yes, the Christines are correct. )

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-05 16:01:21

Who but you would know this esoteric stuff about keys and cars in different periods? You are the CAR GOD! Gold star!

Comment by Tim |Edit This
2008-09-07 00:17:18

Christine was right on more than one occasion. Survived, what six accidents with not so much as a scratch on a passenger? Pretty impressive, I’d say.

And while we’re on the subject of passengers:
With its back seats being made for the legless, using the Porsche would’ve been friend-bringing prohibitive. Half the fun of that night would never’ve been.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2008-09-07 05:28:19

WAIT! Tim, were their other people involved that night besides you and Lenore? There’s MORE?

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Tim |Edit This
2008-09-07 23:39:38

Yea, man. Remember, we were attempting to drop Joel off when the pursuit began. And Jenny was there, too.

Comment by ksw |Edit This
2008-09-05 11:31:25

irene. you are number one most commented….i am shocked….

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-05 11:38:40

Me too. Why do you think? Maybe cause people already know Lenore.

Comment by Lenore Zion |Edit This
2008-09-05 12:01:19

because you showed everyone your tits.

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-05 16:02:25

That’s you, honey… I still have a semblance of pride in spite of what you kids put us through.

Comment by ksw |Edit This
2008-09-05 13:00:58

all three?

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-05 17:06:50

two. but they’re not mine!

Comment by Stephanie |Edit This
2008-09-05 15:33:23

Irene, your post made my day. But seriously. Was her tattoo that ugly?

I’m not so sure if all parents are as oblivious as you two were. My mom and dad where always 10 steps ahead of anything my sister and I would attempt. Or maybe, your kids are just ridiculously smart. That just might be the case.

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-05 16:05:46

Just ask Lenore. Her tattoo was enormously ugly. She had it covered with another tattoo which is really quite beautiful, but don’t tell Victor.
I’m having an ocular migraine right now so I can only see half of what I look at. I apologize for misspellings, etc.
I do think that they mutated into way smarter people than we. Victor and I are just normal sort of folks. My kids are stupendously brilliant.

Comment by Psi |Edit This
2008-09-05 15:42:54

Unexpected phonecalls are awesome. You remember that time about two and a half years ago when you called Lenore and she palmed you off to me, and I told you all about my stay in hospital, and you graciously humoured me as I spoke about myself for the umpteen billionth time?

It was great.

Your daughter doesn’t like talking to you on the phone.

Comment by Matt |Edit This
2008-09-06 19:59:26

hey i remember that phone call too! we were on sunset blvd for like 4 hours driving from the coast to silver lake in rush hour traffic. gross. btw, irene, psi has an adorable new zealand accent, if that helps your remember more clearly.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2008-09-07 05:33:52

As long as you were wearing you seat belts and keeping relatively close to the speed limit, I am glad to hear it. I love New Zealand accents, and Australian, and just about every kind. Around Miami Beach there are lots of people who hail from other countries. It’s a beautiful symphony. So was that just a long drive in miles or a long drive bumper-to-bumper that only transported you frustrated and tired a few blocks farther?

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Psi |Edit This
2008-09-07 22:17:05

I think we did have seatbelts on. We spent long enough in traffic though that really, we didn’t ever go fast enough to merit their use. It was a pretty long drive in both respects…although probably longer timewise than the distance would have indicated.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2008-09-08 03:49:38

I bet in New Zealand there aren’t any traffic jams. All that open land with hopping, climbing, tooting, interesting animals on it. I hope we get to go there one day.

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-05 16:18:31

I do remember a call like that, but I didn’t know it was you. I am delighted to know now. I hope I was gracious and made you feel better.
Don’t worry. I know Lenore hates to talk to me. She loves me buckets, but I ask her too many questions and take up too much of her time.
I really can’t see anything right now on account of the aura is at it’s biggest. I’m going by touch typing and I’m really not so good at that. Apologies all around for typos and misspellings. Don’t worry, I usually don’t get the headaches anymore. A side benefit of aging.
(You’re not in the hospital anymore, right? You’re fine?)

Comment by Psi |Edit This
2008-09-07 22:20:16

And I’m totally going to comment twice. I don’t think I’ve been in hospital since that awesome stay in Las Vegas, although right now I’m doing clinical experience for my nursing degree in one…it’s not quite the same. Whether this makes me “fine”, though, I don’t know…I think you have to have something wrong with you if you get yourself into a nursing career. I swear, I don’t care about people – I’m just going to use the qualification to get to California.

I have the dream.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2008-09-08 03:51:34

You can come to visit us with Lenore when you get to LA! Matt keeps saying he’s going to come. Lots of room here.

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Psi |Edit This
2008-09-11 05:24:34

I totally will. I’d say something vaguely ominous like you’ll regret having made that suggestion, but you probably won’t. I mean, that totally sounds like I’m up myself, and I am a bit, but I’m nice. I can be evil and I’m quite good at pulling people to pieces over stupid, little things, but in reality…I don’t mean it.

Somehow, this makes me nice.

New Zealand’s got about three people in it, and lots of sheep. Sometimes there ARE traffic jams…but really that’s just cos the sheep are on the road. Sometimes cows.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-18 05:58:20

Do they spray-paint the sheep with strange color spots as they do in Ireland to denote to whom they belong? I love that. Now that you talked about sheep I think of New Zealand looking just like Ireland. Probably doesn’t.

Comment by Victor |Edit This
2008-09-06 05:05:49

Okay, I’m the last family member to write. There were quite a few other unexpected phone calls, some about Christine and some from states far away from Illinois. I’ll just step aside and allow my (closeted) exhibitionistic wife do what comes naturally.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2008-09-06 06:59:13

awww! Victor read it. That’s so unlike him. How sweet. Head rub for Victor.
I think he has me pegged. I am a closeted exhibitionist. There are worse things. I could have three eyes. It would be really expensive to get glasses. We are very careful about wasting money in this house.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2008-09-07 05:36:17

Too bad Victor has my face here. His is really cute. If I knew how to put a picture up, I’d show you. Lenore wouldn’t show me how to, probably because she was afraid someone would scarf her beloved Daddy up and away from her.

Comment by Martyn Smith |Edit This
2008-09-06 05:44:34

I like Lenore’s ovary tattoo. Also, this is a great start Irene, I was never aware you had such gold seeping through your fingers.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2008-09-06 07:01:59

Martyn, you never saw her ovary tattoo. It was hideous. Ask her. She went to great pains, literally, to cover it up.
I don’t think there’s gold seeping through my fingers; I think my brains are seeping out of my ears. I do like your perspective better, though.

Comment by Lina “the genius” |Edit This
2008-09-06 10:09:20

Irene, that was amazing! Thank you for inviting me to read it. I’m now going to read some of Lenore’s stuff. I’ll be on the look out for more to come… right?

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2008-09-06 14:08:43

Oh yes, Lina, the genius, there is so much more coming it will make your head spin. In point of fact, I’m particularly interested in making Lenore’s head spin. Not as easy as you might think. You’ll see when you read her posts. (Please forgive her potty mouth, she did not learn it from us.)

Comment by John Box |Edit This
2008-09-07 05:46:01

What does akimbo mean?

Regardless, I love this part:

First, it was inconceivable that Lenore would have a tattoo. She was only 16. You had to be 18 to get a tattoo without a parent’s permission. Second, it was really, really ugly. It looked like a map of her right ovary

Comment by Tim |Edit This
2008-09-07 23:42:49

Even weirder, I too know a John Box. He’s from Norman, Oklahoma.

That you, Box?

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2008-09-07 05:58:26

This is weird. The man who married us was named John Box. He was the authority figure at the Brooklyn Ethical Culture Society. (Digression again, probably you’re not the same one.)
I always thought of akimbo like a frog looks with his little elbows sticking out. It can also mean limbs flung out in a haphazard way. Christine was sitting there, as though her elbows were sticking out since the doors were thrown open. She was like a big red frog with its engine running.

Comment by Ken |Edit This
2008-09-07 16:00:11

That was hilarious! Your children were unrepentant car thieves! Further proof that real life always trumps fiction!

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2008-09-07 16:05:27

I fear, Ken, that I am actually proud of them now. I think they must have put something in my water. There are more bloodcurdling tales to come. Thanks for joining us!

Comment by Christine |Edit This
2008-09-07 16:34:41

I’m really enjoying everyone saying my name, even if it IS referencing the car. And Irene, I believe I win the tee shirt for being number 200 love!

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2008-09-07 18:03:06

Whoa! What tee shirt? You’re getting a gossamer gown, glass slippers, and a glistening tiara with a pumpkin coach and coachman who have little mice whiskers to take you to the ball! Fed Ex!

Comment by Michael |Edit This
2008-09-07 16:46:45

Lenore and Tim are the criminal Franny and Zooey. I thoroughly enjoyed this, Mrs. Zion.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2008-09-07 18:04:54

Thanks, Michael! I’m pretty sure I’m having more fun than anyone here. Already walking through my memory banks for more material.

Comment by ALEX D |Edit This
2008-09-08 04:51:22

Hey Irene I really enjoyed your story. For one it was short which for me is great and since I know you and your family it makes it even funnier. Please continue to write so that I may also expand my vocabulary as much as I can thanks

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2008-09-08 17:41:11

Thanks, Alex!
It’s good to hear from you!
Keep an eye out!

Comment by LisaB |Edit This
2008-09-08 13:19:28


You and Dave Berry were separated at birth. Very witty!


Comment by LisaB |Edit This
2008-09-08 13:21:50

how do I add a photo?

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2008-09-08 17:39:54

Lisa B. You can add a photo to my myspace, but I am a newcomer here and do not as yet know the rules for adding photographs. I would have added shots to my piece, if I had known how to do it. I hope to know by the next time I put up a piece. I appear to be a slow-learner. I’d love to see your picture, though, and it appears easily on myspace.

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2008-09-08 14:30:50

Oh Lisa, that is the sweetest thing to say! I adore Dave Barry. He used to write weekly here in the Miami Herald, but now he only does special events like the Olympics or the Political conventions. He runs a HUGE scavenger hunt here every year and people come from all OVER the world to participate. He is seriously my hero. My favorite piece of his is the one after a Huge Hurricane and I think it was Andrew. Anyhow. He has these two dogs. The back porch was completely torn down, totally, except for the door. The two dogs stood at the door, with no walls whatsoever around them, and waited for someone to open the door for them to go out. That is the best story on earth. I have two dogs that would positively do the same thing.

Comment by Squeaky |Edit This
2008-09-10 07:38:19

What a beautiful story. I don’t think you were stupid, I just think you and your husband enjoy your sleeping. There are very few things that could wake me up out of a good slumber. Hearing that my stolen car had been recovered probably wouldn’t be one of them. That’s why I always turn my phone off before bed. Everything can usually wait until morning.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2008-09-10 09:42:56

Thank you, Squeaky. That makes two people who have voted that we weren’t stupid. The consensus, however is heavily weighted for vast stupidity. Still. It’s nice to know that not EVERYONE thinks we were idiots. Plus, your vote carries tons more weight, so to speak. You should enjoy your sleeping now, by the by, the older you get the worse your sleep gets. Hibernate, if you can.

Comment by Squeaky |Edit This
2008-09-11 11:25:27

I’ve taken your advice. I’m sleeping as I write this.

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2008-09-11 17:03:40

You are a good man, Squeaky. Good night. Sleep tight. Don’t let the bedbugs bite. If they do, hit them with your shoe till they turn black and blue.

Comment by N.L. Belardes |Edit This
2008-09-12 16:44:31

I just wanted to try to be the last comment on here.

Comment by Squeaky |Edit This
2008-09-18 10:59:52


Comment by Christine |Edit This
2008-09-27 06:53:59

I needs me some cat foodz. Right meow.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-27 08:48:43

Christine, make sure your cat food doesn’t mix meat and cheese. A lot of them do, you know. Gotta be EXTRA careful. Read the label. Also there should be no milk powder from China in the ingredients. Oh, that’s right, it USED to be pet food but now it’s baby food and treats that China poisoned. Such a wonderful place, China. Such sympathy for the human condition.

Comment by Rachel Pollon |Edit This
2009-06-19 09:23:10

I think it’s better parents don’t find out these things til later, when it’s funny. Who needs the tsuris (spelling?), am I right? Gawd willing, it’s a rite of passage and everything turns out okay. ) Rxo

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2009-06-20 04:45:18

Someday I’ll try to put the whole picture into perspective.
When my mother had her foot amputated and her crazy broke out of its bounds,
that’s when my middle two were abusing drugs and doing massively dangerous things.
And my dog almost died.
All at the same time.

It is a miracle that my kids are okay.

Comment by Jess |Edit This
2009-07-07 15:32:42

Just wanted to comment on this post to make sure it kept it’s deserving high comment status! This post was what got me hooked on TheNervousBreakdown. Well, Aaron Dietz was what originally brought me, but this made me stay. I love you Irene! heh

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2009-07-08 08:33:39

AW, shucks! Thanks, Jess!
That really means a lot to me.

Comment by Marcia, still in Illinois |Edit This
2009-08-04 12:38:40

I suppose your mom didn’t bring the coffee can with her to Illinois, did she? Otherwise I might sneak over to the vegetable garden at the retirement home and start digging. I was always suspicious of her professed love for growing vegetables. I wish I had a metal detector.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-08-04 12:53:32

My mom lost all those silver dollars before she moved from Brooklyn, we think. No one even uses cans of coffee anymore, but these were two pounders, full of actual full-silver dollars. The big kind, not like those not-really-silver Susan B. Anthonys or the Indian maiden ones we had for a time. Do we even have so-called silver dollars anymore?
I hope that someone found them and had a heyday. I’d hate to think they were just thrown in the dump or something.

Comment by Melissa |Edit This
2009-08-04 12:58:33

I think this is my favorite of your stories. I come back and read it often,


Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-08-04 13:26:40

Oh, yeah, Melissa?

I’ll bet you just read it so you can feel all superior because your kids never did anything illegal and wildly dangerous!
(That’s just mean!)
How did you accomplish that? Seriously.
You must have run a tight ship!
We ran the good ship denial.

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Melissa |Edit This
2009-08-05 13:35:11

Oh no, I can tell you stories about my daughter, who insisted she was a good girl. HARDLY, I can tell you. It all started when she was about 12. It does not end. Ever.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-08-05 14:28:45

It is totally not fair to hint about wild nefarious actions and not tell us about them!
One day I expect you to come clean.

Comment by ksw |Edit This
2009-08-05 02:17:11

remember, it could always be worse. what if they were in a pinto and fell out of the hatchback?

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-08-05 14:29:58

Weren’t those the cars that burst into flame if you rear-ended them?
That would have been much to harsh a punishment, methinks.

Comment by Amy |Edit This
2009-08-05 08:36:59

We always think our kids are so sweet and innocent, then they grow up. How does this happen?

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-08-05 14:33:38

Well, Amy, I was not one of those mothers.
I continued to believe my kids were sweet and innocent regardless of evidence to the contrary.
Denial is a WAY more comfortable place to live.
Not necessarily a good idea, mind you, just much more pleasant.
In fact,
I’d have to say that even through all of the shenanigans they did, I still believe them to be totally sweet and innocent.
(Ah, the power of sweet denial….)

Comment by Marcia (former next-door neighbor in Illinois and frequent visitor to Florida) |Edit This
2009-08-05 09:28:03

Did she ever say why she hid the silver dollars or what she was saving them for?

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-08-05 14:35:00

I’m pretty sure it was Armageddon.
That’d probably be it.

Comment by Melissa |Edit This
2009-08-05 13:32:58

I think I do have some silver dollars that my mom gave me. not an entire coffee can full though. I gave them to my oldest son thinking we had a gold mine. They were worth a dollar at the least and about 5 at the most. Darn.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-08-05 14:37:00

I’ll bet you anything that he went out and spent them.
Just ask him if he still has them and knows where they are.
Betcha anything.

Comment by mary |Edit This
2009-08-15 05:53:28

wish i would have thought of stealing my parents car cuz they never let brother bob and ever drive their car. that was something i never thought of. your kids are really smart…………..

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-09-06 04:08:14

More wily than smart, Mary.
Not so sure that’s a good thing.