People who know me and have met my mother know that it is nearly impossible to take her anywhere without maximum embarrassment. She has such a talent for the awkward that she even succeeds in humiliation when the other people involved do not speak the same language. Today I will regale you three excellent reasons why you should not take my mom anywhere.  This will include mom managing to embarrass everyone at the table even though no one else spoke English; followed by how even Stephen Tyler has been caught in her humiliation storm, then lastly how a hot beverage turned into a public nightmare.

I Speak My Own Language

Some time around the year 2001, my family decided it would be fun to travel around Canada on vacation. My sister now fluently speaks French but at the time none of us were close to fluent speakers. My sister and I had taken enough French in school that we could blunder our way through it if people talked to us like we were idiots. My French still has not improved much beyond that point. As far as translations were concerned for the trip, that was all we had to work with. Throughout most of the trip it was pretty easy to find people who spoke English and so it was not a big issue. My mom is one of those people who seems to think she can speak any language as long as she uses weird accents, kind of like Peggy Hill and her Spanish on the show King of the Hill. One afternoon we went to lunch in Quebec where all of the staff seemed to speak strictly French.  This was still not a huge issue because reading the menu was pretty straight forward. Unfortunately for the server, the witnesses, and all of us, mom had decided to bust out her French on our unsuspecting waitress. She looked at the menu then back at the waitress and in the most stereotypical American accent ever she said “excuse me, grassy-ASS señor” right to her. The look on the server’s face clearly stated that she had no idea what just happened. When we tried to stop mom from trying anything else she thought might be French she said it again; this time with a posh frown and copious amount of unnecessary head movements. At this point the server went and got someone else and repeated my mother’s excellent français to try and interpret it. By the end of lunch we had already decided that as long as mom was in tow, foreign locations were out.


In the same year that mom had bombed her attempt at French she also successfully pissed off Stephen Tyler twice in the span of two minutes. We were in Boston together sitting outside while mom finished a smoke. While we were sitting there a large group of people including several police walked by us. As soon as the group was next to us mom shouts “look Lorelei Mick Jagger!” He stopped walking and turned around. It was not Mick Jagger it was Stephen Tyler and he did not look amused. I corrected her and told her he was from Aerosmith and hoped he was not as offended as he looked. It wouldn’t be mom though if she didn’t instantly make it worse. The next sentence out of her mouth was “whatever they both have huge lips.” She did not even wait for him to turn away from her before she said it, if looks could kill she would have burst into flames. Thankfully he didn’t say anything and just walked away. One of these days I suspect she is going to get a bill in the mail from his therapist.

Coffee or Tea?

At least a decade ago I was in a Walmart with my sister and mom looking for various items. When we walked down the beverage isle, my sister grabbed a box of teabags, put them on her face, and said “look Lorelei teabagging.” We both chuckled but then mom turns around and says in her outside voice “what is this teabagging about?”  Neither of us wanted to explain the meaning to her so we just kept ignoring the question. Mom was hellbent on finding out what it was all about so she started asking random customers in the store. She had probably said to half a dozen people “excuse me what is teabagging?” The more people she asked the funnier it got because no one wanted to answer her. To our relief she had finally stopped  asking  customers, we thought she had given up entirely when in reality she was just looking for someone she deemed more knowledgeable. As we were checking out she asked the cashier, who appeared to be a 15 year old teenage girl, if she knew what teabagging was. The cashier immediately turned a bright crimson hue and walked away. We told mom if she really wanted to know then she should just ask dad.