Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Growing Up With Mom

Growing up with my Mom was an amazing experience. She taught me a great deal and made the learning fun. I have mentioned in a previous post how we had a contest with each new Alistair MacLean mystery novel. Who could solve it first. It took me a while but I actually won a few.

But there were other things we did that taught me to observe, pay attention to detail and to think quick. There was the weekly "Perry Mason - Solve It First" game. For those who do not know - Perry Mason was a TV lawyer whose clients always appeared as guilty as sin but who were innocent. Mason had to prove the innocence of his client while bringing the real culprit to light. Each episode's plot is essentially the same: the first half of the show usually depicts the prospective murder victim as being deserving of homicide, often with Perry's client publicly threatening to kill the victim; the body is found (often by Perry and his investigator, Paul Drake, who through circumstance happen to stumble upon the body) surrounded by clues pointing to Perry's client. Perry's client is put on trial for murder, but Perry establishes his client's innocence by dramatically demonstrating the guilt of another character. The murderer nearly always breaks down and confesses to the crime in the courtroom, if not on the witness stand or in the arms of the bailiff, who blocks the murderer's effort to escape into the hallway. In the trial process, other malefactors (blackmailers, frauds, forgers, etc.) are frequently forced into confessions by Perry's relentless badgering just before he exposes the killer. At this point, it is common for the camera to zoom in on the faces of the potentially guilty (visibly uncomfortable in their seats) as Perry slowly but surely moves to the climactic identification of the real murderer, who confesses, often to the accompaniment of a kettledrum-laden orchestral score, followed by a fadeout to black, symbolizing the defeat and oblivion meted out by Perry Mason. In the ten years the show aired, he lost one case.

As we watched, the point was to figure out "whodunit". But there was more. Mom would ask such things as (after a car drove away, for example) "Was that a 2-door or 4-door?", "Did it take a left or right turn?", "What is Perry's phone number?" (MA 5-1190), "Where is his office?" (Brent Building Suite 904). Why do I still remember this stuff?!? LOL

We would watch such shows as "The Twilight Zone" and try to come up with different endings. Rod Serling was lucky he never met us!

But the most fun we ever had was with the telephone. If someone called and Mom answered and it was a wrong number looking for a male name she would hand the phone to me and say "Quick! Your name is George!" Or, if I answered and it was a wrong number looking for a female name I would hand the phone to Mom and say "Quick! Your name is Mary!" Whoever was not on the phone timed the one who was. The object was to keep the party talking as long as possible. Mom once kept someone going for 23 minutes before finally saying "Oh dear! I am not that Mary! You must have a wrong number!" My longest was 6 minutes.

That training paid off for me later in the Air Force. We were in our duty section just goofing around when the phone rang. I picked it up and said,

"Joe's Pizza Parlor - what kinda pie for you?"

"Do you know who this!?"


"This is Colonel Johnson speaking!"

"Do you know who this is, Colonel?"

"No! I do not!"


and I hung up.

1 comment:

  1. ::snicker:: Did the colonel ever find out who the pizza person was? Good thing they didn't have voice ID waay back then.