the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Call to Mom

Sophia has been away all week on a job, so I have been here in LA, holding down the fort, like they used to say in the days when we lived in forts.  I’ve been spending a lot of time with Sophia’s step-father and mother at the hospital, which is stressful because they can only speak Russian, and my knowledge of the language is limited to food related statements like “Please pass me the blini” and exotic curses such as “Fuck you, your mother, every relative in their grave, and your two favorite horses.”

I’ve been spending a lot of time playing on my iphone, ignoring reality.  I do know what is going on in Haiti, and I am purposely keeping my head in the sand.  I just can’t deal with the news of the scope of the disaster.  Even the Leno-Conan O’Brien drama was too intense for me right now.

Speaking of iphones — did you know that the latest Facebook update transfers profile photos of your friends into your contacts, so if one of your virtual friends actually called you up, a large photo of your friend would appear on the bright screen as the Justin Timberlake ringtone played on your phone?

Why can’t real life run as smoothly as modern technology?

Playing with my iphone has helped release some tension (video apps!  Scrabble!),  but I have been quite cranky lately.  I would love to take it out on my readers, because I enjoy that, but since I am in the middle of a PR rehabilitaion, I have decided to take it out on my mother instead.  And I have good reason to.  Sophia’s parents are a little older than my mother, and I am seeing first hand how age can slow you down to the point where the child is caring for the parent.  This is when you wake up and realize that you are OLD.  My mother is in her seventies, but — knock on wood — KNOCK KNOCK — in great health.  She traveled through a million European cities last summer.   She is more energetic than I am.   But… old age comes fast.  I see it.

Usually, my mother calls me, bugging me like a stereotypical Jewish mother, reminding me to take my cholesterol medicine, or wondering why I still haven’t made a dentist appointment.   Today, I called her up to nag her.  It was MY TURN!

“How are you feeling today?” I asked, ready to pounce.


“Didn’t you say your foot was bothering you?”

“It’s nothing.”

“I noticed in Queens that you sometimes had trouble standing up from the couch.”

“That’s because the stupid couch is too low.”

“It might be arthritis.”

“I have a little arthritis.”

“So, why don’t you see a doctor?”

“What is a doctor going to do?”

Normally, I would have given up with the questioning, but I felt as distrustful as an El Al security guard.

“Aren’t you taking yoga there?”

“Yes, every day.”

“But I know you.  You just do whatever the instructor tells everyone to do.  Speak to her.   Personally.  Tell her you want a special exercise suited for YOU.”

“Leave me alone.  I’m fine.  Did you make an appointment to your doctor yet while you are in LA?  And what’s going on with you and Sophia anyway?  Have you talked about it yet?  You can’t live like this forever…?”

“We’re not talking about me.  We are talking about you.”

“Me?  I’m enjoying life!  You’re the one who’s screwed up.  And besides, my cholesterol is lower than yours.”

“Do you know where I am going every day to visit Vartan?  This rehab clinic?  Do you know what it is LIKE in here?  It is awful.  You don’t FUCKING want to be in here.  I don’t want to FUCKING visit you in one of these places!”

“I know.  I’ve been there with my parents.  My mother was in a nursing home.  Half of Century Village ends up in assisted living.   Never put me in a nursing home.  I’d rather be dead.”

“Stop talking nonsense.  Go exercise your legs.”

“Right now?  I’m eating lunch.”

“You don’t want to EVER fall and break a hip.  Because that is BAD NEWS at your age.”

“I’m fine.  YOU need to exercise.”

“Stop being an idiot, Mom!  You’re getting old.”

“I am old.”

“You’re not old.”

“I am old.  So, if I fall, you’re not coming to visit me?”

“You’re acting a real jerk today.  Just don’t fall, OK?  And don’t eat too much deli food.  It’s not healthy.”

“I’m eating a chicken salad sandwich.  You’re the one who goes to McDonald’s.”

“We’re talking about YOU.  Sheesh!  You’re impossible!!”

Later that day, my mother called up, probably wanting to remind me AGAIN to make my doctor’s appointment.  At first, I didn’t know it was my mother because this Facebook photo appeared full screen in my iphone behind my mother’s name  —

Either this Facebook “contact” information app has a serious bug in it, or my mother really HAS been taking good care of herself in Florida!

I have no idea who this girl is in the photo.   Obviously technology is as fucked up as real life.


  1. Jill

    In honor of National Delurking Day, I’ll leave my first comment on your blog in a long, long while. And simply say, you are right to worry about your mother, but she’s right too… mothers are always right!

  2. ozma

    That’s a hot girl. Maybe it’s your mother’s avatar.

    I never thought I’d see the day when a son outnags his mother. Wow.

  3. V-Grrrl @ Compost Studios

    I started worrying about aging parents when I was still in high school, because you know I was freakishly mature for my age and an overachiever, even in the worrying category.

    Then again, the sh*t hit the fan with them when I was in my early 20s and they died within weeks of each other when I was only 30.

    Now, continuing my tradition of worrying about aging parents, I worry about myself and being a burden to my kids. I’ve got all kinds of “pull the plug” and “don’t resuscitate or rehabilitate me” legal documents signed.

    I’m not afraid of dying. I’m much more afraid of living.

  4. followthatdog

    Maybe your mom is using that as her photo for her active online dating life now that she’s away. You never know.

  5. Pearl

    She has simply discovered THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH. Good on you, Mom Kramer!

    BTW, every Jewish mother needs to be nagged every now and then. It’s good for the guilt.

  6. Trish/Astrogirl426

    Some people might say that you nagging your mother is a form of displacement – a neurotic defense mechanism created by your ego to protect you by allowing you to avoid dealing with your overwhelming anxiety over your current domestic situation.

    But that’s just some people. 😉

  7. Gwen

    Aww, Neil, you love your mama. Add that to your good looks, generous endowments and charming personality, and it’s hard to see why you feel the need to troll Twitter for hot chicks.


  8. Jack

    I agree with Pearl.

  9. Marinka

    I love your mom. Stop bugging her, already.
    p.s. take your cholesterol medicine.

  10. Overflowing Brain

    I agree with Marinka. Also? Cholesterol medicine is for winners. And people who aren’t big fans of heart attacks.

  11. WebSavvyMom

    –>Sounds like your Mom is quite “active” and it may be a result of her facebook picture.

  12. 3boys1mommy

    Your poor mother 😉

    p.s I always think that after reading your posts.

  13. gorillabuns

    always listen to your mother!

  14. teahouseblossom

    Whoa!! See, this is like one of those segments you see on Dateline. “Our innocent daughter’s high school graduation photo somehow ended up on the internet, on some middle-aged pervert’s blog!!”

  15. Annie

    Great post. I can relate, I am very concerned about my mom and what may happen in the near future.

  16. kenju

    Call your mother, Neil!

  17. sassy

    Your mom is a hottie! (;

  18. sas

    there aren’t a million countries in europe.

    you americans really should travel more.

  19. churlita

    I love how your mom turned it all around on you. She is a real pro.

  20. BOSSY

    Hubba hubba, your mother really has been exercising her legs. And other things. (SO FUNNY!)

  21. Introspectre

    I’m sorry to laugh this much….well, a little sorry anyway.

    I wish my phone could spontaneously offer me eye candy when my mother calls.

    That’s a good phone app, if you ask me.

  22. ChiaLynn

    What’s weird is that I think I actually do know her. But I can’t figure out why I think that.

  23. Elizabeth (@claritychaos)

    Love this. Sounds like she’ll be rockin and rollin for a while. My own grandmother is 92, drives a Lexus and bitches about the ‘old ladies’ who drive to slow. She gallivants off with her friends to play cards or go to the mountains, and she’s sharp as a tack. Other than her knees (she’s 92, for pete’s sake) she’s feelin fine. I wish your mother (and all of our mothers!) the health and vitality of Gramma Flo.

    (And hang in there with the caregiving.)

  24. Jen14221

    That stupid Facebook update jacked up all my contacts. My husband appearared to me, for a short time on my iPhone, to be a young Vietnamese girl. I’ve had dreams of my husband doing my pedicures for some time now, but this was just too much.

  25. Elizabeth Harper

    Right … I am laughing out loud now! I have been scanning through some of your previous posts this morning when I should be in the shower and on to other things and this one just sealed it for me. Off you go to my google reader so I can be sure I don’t miss whatever you may have to say.

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