Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Day 26: Mother-in-law

Q: Why do they bury mothers-in-law 18 feet down, when everyone else is buried 6 feet down?
A: Because deep, deep down, they really are very nice people.

I opened the door this morning, and there was my mother-in-law on the front step. She asked, "Can I stay here a few days?" I said, "Sure," and shut the door in her face.

A man was told by his doctor that he had only six months to live. He decided to move in with his mother-in-law, because living with her for six months will seem like forever.

"I just got back from a pleasure trip. I took my mother-in-law to the airport." Henny Youngman

"I'd love to slit my mother-in-law's corsets and watch her spread to death." Phyllis Diller


There. Had to get those out of my system. And in this wonderful age we live in, it took about 3 google-seconds to find several web sites devoted to mother-in-law jokes so all credit to them for archiving these old jokes.

We've been staying with my mother-in-law Peg this week, and I got to thinking yesterday about this tradition of mother-in-law jokes. I am not quite sure why or how they all got started, but there's a real nasty edge to many of them.

I am guessing they are the relics of an era that time has passed by. I'm pretty sure modern comedians are not pulling out mother-in-law jokes from their gag bags. But then, I haven't been to the Catskills in about 40 years, either, and if there's any place that would be recycling 50-year-old humor, that would be it.

The mother-in-law jokes must have arisen at a time when families lived closer together and newlyweds couldn't easily get away from the interfering mother. Actually, even today lots of people in their 20s and 30s live with their parents for at least part of the time, so it can't be because families are no longer as close. It could be that today's mother-in-law just doesn't interfere . But I doubt that human nature has changed that much, too.

My best guess is that it's just like all humor stereotypes. The mother-in-law joke is funny to us even though we don't feel that way about our own mother-in-law.

That's certainly the case with Peg. She's a fantastic lady whom I love being around. I've had great times with her here in Pittsford, in Sydney, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Cape Cod, Washington, Freehold, Boston and many more places. A retired first- and second-grade teacher, I can well imagine how much she would have meant to the kids in her class.

One of my favorite days with Peg was at Monmouth Race Course when she and I sent LK off to work and decided to have a fun day to ourselves.

She's also my third mother-in-law, of course. But to be honest, although one of them was what I will politely term "eccentric", the other was a great, fun person, as well. As Meatloaf sang so well, two out of three ain't bad.

Or, if you prefer something slightly older, there's Ernie K-Doe's famous song in the 50s. He obviously didn't have a mother-in-law like Peg:

Mother-in-law. Mother-in-law.
Satan should be her name.

To me they're 'bout the same.
Every time I open my mouth
She steps in, tries to put me out.
How could she stoop so low?
Mother-in-law. Mother-in-law

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