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She’s the modernized version of my grandma, who has stacks of crisply snipped newspaper articles lumped across her carpet in Blair Witch-like heaps. They make her whole house smell chalky. “What’s going to happen when you move out, Ma?” my mother will ask her, sounding annoyed. “No one is going to read these.” In the next breath, though, she’ll tell my grandma about an article from nytimes.com that she absolutely must, must read. “I’ll forward it to you when I get home.” Despite an awareness of my mother’s obsession with sending online articles to her family members with only the most tenuous threads of connection (e.g. “You mentioned kale once last Christmas, so here’s an article I found that discusses its health benefits, and there are some kale-based recipes if you scroll down far enough; they can all be made with five ingredients or fewer. Isn’t that neat? It made me think of you.”), I immediately took this one as a personal attack. What did my mother mean by sending me this article about humor? Did she intend it to be a tips-and-tricks, YouMight-Learn-A-Thing-Or-Two self-help guide? Though my family might say I can be entertaining, I don’t think they would say that I’m “funny.” My mother’s brand of humor vacillates between wholesome slapstick and lewd wordplay, both wholly different than the bleak one-liners I gravitate toward. Need an example? In the Notes app on my phone, I write down things people say that make me laugh—like a real ab-burning, spit-misting, asthmatic laugh—yet none of my family members have made the list, nor do I think they would appreciate what else is on there. “I hate red because it only reminds me of the enemy blood I must spill.” –Tori “Suburbia has ruined you. You’re like a racehorse that has to be shot.” –Emmy “I feel like I would be in a loveless marriage with myself.” –Dan “People disappear all the time. We just say they’re eaten by lions.” –Tori “I’m an opportunist. Like the infections that kill you off when you have AIDS.” –Emmy Unsettled by the darkness of my humor, my mother may have sent that article to nudge 96 hoffman

Profile for Red Cedar Review

Red Cedar Review Vol. 54  

Red Cedar Review Vol. 54  

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