Wednesday, January 18, 2012

My Mother The Inventress

Remembering the circumstances behind this post still fills me with wonder; it was like watching a baby unicorn take its first steps, or having a burrito delivered by a dolphin. I'm afraid to breath too hard, lest I dispel whatever benign magic was at work. All the same, it's about time I finally shared it.

If you've never met my mother, let me just say, it will explain a lot. She's the woman that let me watch Beavis and Butt-Head with her as a kid, which led to a whole lot of laughter; this is also the woman that let me watch Unsolved Mysteries without her as a kid, which led to a whole lot of cowering under the covers at night, hiding from aliens, Bigfoot, and poorly cast reenactments. 

Hearing either the theme song or Robert Stack's voice still sends me into a panic attack.  

Like many parents, my mom is behind the curve on technology. Recently I saw that there's a Twitter feed for a 65 year old woman's adventures in the world of Skyrim. There's an entire Plato's cave worth of issues we'd have to deal with before that could be my mom, and how to use a controller would be the least of those. Plus, I'm pretty sure she wouldn't be able to stop tittering at the fact that it was called "Skyrim". (Heh, tittering.)

She's had a cell phone for a couple of years, and we expected her to only use it for that most antiquated of purposes, remote auditory communication. With resignation, we knew we would never be able to tell her our organs had not spontaneously fallen out by text  - "nsidz r OK kthxbai" - necessitating a phone call instead. Along with ditches and the possible contents thereof, this is the darkest fear of mothers everywhere.

That's all changed, however; one day, with no warning, she sent me a picture of one of her dogs.

Then a picture of her other dog.

Then, inexplicably, a turkey.

This trend continued for awhile, a picture a day of a dog, a cat, or a more different kind of animal (I have no idea where the other animals came from - a park? the zoo? her secret African safari?) with text below of the "I love you, Mom" or "hope you're having a good day" variety. 

I was impressed. With no help from any of her children, she'd wrestled the concept of picture messaging to the floor. It was delightful, and I was saddened when I stopped getting my daily messages. I had grown accustomed to the parade of canine faces, endlessly staring upwards in confusion.

At this juncture it's important to note my mother has no computer, is only slightly aware of the internet, and totally clueless about the existence of memes. In fact, if I said, “meme” she'd assume I was mispronouncing “Mimi”, which is what some of my cousins call our grandmother.

Much like the penicillin spore that flew in Fleming's window, or Achimedes in the bath, I like to think of her next discovery as a happy accident. One day – Eureka! - I received a picture of a confused dog, in which the dog was directly wishing me well, instead of acting as an accompaniment to an unrelated sentiment.

A day after that, I received a picture of a cat with a caption that read "Tigger says meow." The cat's mouth was closed, so she was either lying, or expressing a reality about cats that's commonly understood to be true. I still don't know, but it was a stride forward.

Do you see where this is going? With no outside help or influence, my mother invented lolcats.

She did not reinvent them, you understand. She did not look at the conventions of the genre and decide they needed bold interpretation by a novel hand; rather, she decided pictures of animals needed superfluous headnotes and/or footnotes all on her own. It was a gradual process, wrought with missteps and doubts in the dark, I'm sure, but she finally did it. The fact that someone did it first is immaterial.

I can only hope this process of parallel innovation continues.

I want to visit her house and have her suggest we watch an old home movie. As she turns the VCR on, I want to be greeted by a video of Rick Astley telling me that he's never gonna give me up, painstakingly taped by my mother during countless hours of watching VH1 and waiting.

I want her to buy me a three wolf moon shirt for Christmas, because she thinks it looks cool and will impress the ladies.

I want her to call, only to bellow Leeeeeeeroy Jenkins - a name that came to her in a dream - and hang up.

But for now, I receive these underground lolcats - but mostly loldogs - a few times a week, each one a jewel I treasure up in my heart. I know that they're not produced in an internet sweat shop, child laborers hastily applying an Impact font and bad grammar to a picture of a dog with a hat wrestled on; these images are made fresh, with a mother's love, and the dog hats are carefully applied.

Without further ado, it's my privilege to share these images with you:

I want my mommy

Your mommy is gone my pretty hahahaha

I'm ready to go trick or treating

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