Ode to Mommie Dearest, Mama, All Things Mother, and the Collection Obsession
My Mom, after being ill for months, passed away several weeks ago. Even though she was ill for a few years, it still came as a shock. Her death is sufficiently impactful that it has affected not just her family, but Evil Geek Cult itself. Way back in November, Jordan — Editor-in-Chief of EGC, Matthew — the Super Sayin Sex God, and I — Papa Smerph took a road trip ostensibly to say goodbye to my Mom. We missed a couple of posts as a consequence.
Jordan usually gives me a great latitude with the things I write about, so he doesn’t mind me straying sometimes from the objectives he’s set for the site, the promotion and celebration of all things Geek. He did it himself on the first EGC post when he memorialized my brother, and I plan on doing this now. I know that this is a genre website, and so I promise it’ll all tie together into what I hope will be a relevant bow at the end.
I haven’t been able to write for a while. Partly, because my family and I have been attempting to cope with the inevitability of Mom’s illness; partly because my mind hasn’t found the right headspace to write. It’s been a tough three years. In that span, my paternal uncle, paternal grandmother, my two brothers, and my lovely mother have all passed. Writing, had been my creative outlet since I was eight, but since “Dreadtober,” I haven’t been able to muster the energy to write. I think, emotionally, I’ve been wrung dry. However, since Jordan wrote that there wouldn’t be any podcasts for a while, my passions have stirred, and when he said he was thinking of altering the EGC schedule a couple of postings ago, I felt compelled to respond. I will be going back to writing my nerdy articles with greater frequency to take up the production slack. This I vow, but first let me tell you the several ways my Mom inspired my Geekdom.
My Mom hated horror movies, and in the days of VHS, my brother and I, rented a LOT of horror movies. Mom was an avid watcher of video, and relished family-time around the television, so she encouraged weekly rentals, but when our rentals were horror she would roll her eyes. What’s funny is that she was a good sport about watching them. She was soooooo Latin about the movies. You know the stereotype about people of color in the movie theatre? Yeah, that was Mom.
We loved to watch her talk to the television, scream at the jump scares, and curse at the “estoopid” girls who didn’t fight back. My favorite moment was when we watched Scanners. If you’ve seen the movie, you know the scene I’m talking about. Michael Ironside making the chest-burster from Alien look like a Bambi sequel. She predicted what was coming in Alien, but in Scanners, she screamed so loud, it almost burst eardrums. Afterwards, she cursed us out. She was mad that we “FORCED” her to watch this “foawking” movie. Yeah, forced. Like we could ever force her to do anything. If she needed to go to the bathroom during the movie she asked us to “powse the matchine.” If she felt she missed something she would ask us to rewind. Even if she saw every second and didn’t understand, she would shout “Rewind.” And the rewind had to happen quick or we would get knocked with a flying chancleta (slipper). We respected the Power of the Chancleta. It’s a ninja-like gift which allows for psychic targeting to be employed by Puerto Rican moms. They never miss. Even when standing around a corner or behind a barrier, her unerring targeting was almost psionic.
In the 90s, my brother and my Mom came up with the idea for a business called Family Fun Stop. It was a comic shop/party planning store. My brother and I would sell comic books and my Mom was in charge of the Party Planning part. We were in our 20s and selling comics alongside our parents. Dad has his staid ways, but Mom loved to have fun. We would sometimes crank up the music and dance in the store like lunatics. My Dad was the killjoy who wanted us to act “professional.” Mom would cuff our ears or curse us out while dancing her cachangas off. Even my ex-wife got knocked a couple of times by Mom (in jest, of course) for mouthing off at the wrong time. Mom was an equal opportunity punisher.
It was there while we tended Family Fun Stop where we got to know my Mom’s creative side. She would make ribbon souvenirs, table settings, and piñatas. She created all sorts of themed party designs for showers and anniversary celebrations. The tools of her trade were lace, pins, ribbon, glue guns, and gold pens to draw/write on glass. She was amazing in her little world of party design. If we would have had more start up capital, we probably could have made a better go of it. I still kind of like the name of the store, though.
Mom and Dad were married for 54 years before cancer claimed her. As a consequence of her death and the longevity of their marriage, I have since moved to Puerto Rico to take care of my Dad. He has tremors and so driving is difficult for him. He also doesn’t know how to cook so I do that for him as well. Entering my Mom and Dad’s home, I was shocked at the clutter. My Mom had a Collection Obsession that she has passed on down to her children and grandchildren. We are collectors of books, comics, and toys. Action figures, genre merchandise, both big, and small, litter our homes. Video games, story ideas, movies, and television shows are the constant threads of our conversation. My boys and I have bonded over our love for genre-related topics. The great relationship I like to think I have with my boys, I believe is directly attributed to my Mom and her need to collect trivialities.
My mother was the matriarch of several generations of Geek. And SHE beyond a shadow of a doubt was the Queen.