Chick Wit: Mother Mary insists on her 'Matlock'

Big news from the Flying Scottoline Ranch.

Mother Mary is moving in.


Rather, she's here, but I'm not sure how long this will last or how it will end. There are two possibilities: Either a shootout at high noon, or we'll just use our bare hands.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

I'll tell you how it came about, because, like all disasters, it happened all of sudden. With tornadoes, they say you have only a few seconds before your world turns upside down. I had more notice than that, but even if it happens more slowly, you're still not ready.

Not if your mother is a natural force.

They don't call her Earthquake Mary for nothing.

As you may know, she lives with Brother Frank in South Beach. I've been wanting her to stay with me for the spring and summer, but the problem is that whenever we're under the same roof, we fight. If we're in the same kitchen, most of the fights are about the same thing - overcooking or undercooking.

Guess who does which.

The world divides neatly into overcookers and undercookers, but in my house, overcooking and undercooking morph from cooking methods to power struggles to Approaches to Life in General, which leads to rolling eyes, hurt feelings, and eventually, nuclear war with oregano.

Then I figured it out. If we fight when we're under the same roof, the problem had an obvious solution.

No, that one's a felony.

Also, I look bad in orange.

Instead, each of us needed her own roof.

In other words, I figured out the perfect way to live with my mother:


Luckily, I have an old cottage on my property, in which Thing Two used to keep his business. When he and I went our separate ways, it fell into disrepair. I hoped it would eventually house Thing Three, but so far, no such luck.

I need to get cracking on that third divorce, but I tend to procrastinate.

Also, I'm not married, so there's a lot to do first.

Long story short, I fixed up the cottage so it looks storybook - white paint, cute bathroom, new appliances - and used it to lure Mother Mary up north. She'd have her own house, her own roof, and her own kitchen, where she could turn colorful food gray, like an octogenarian Harry Potter.

Plus, the cottage is right in my backyard, so we can visit each other anytime. If she can swim the moat.

Then get over the electrified fence.

And if she wraps her hands with cloth, she won't cut them on the razor wire.

Just kidding.

She came last weekend with Brother Frank, to see it for the first time and to decide if she wanted to stay. She thought it was pretty, but there was only one thing missing.


In other words, there's no TV in the cottage. I couldn't get the cable company to come for two more weeks, which leaves Mother Mary without her boyfriend, Dick Van Dyke.

It's a storybook cottage with no stories.

I suggested that she try an audiobook, so I went online, bought an audio of The Godfather, loaded it to my iPod, and found the scene with Sonny and the bridesmaid. If you don't know the one I'm talking about, you need to read more.

I sat her in a chair and plugged her ears with the white buds. "Listen," I said.

Her eyes flared open. "This is dirty!"

"I know. Still miss Dick Van Dyke?"

My brother was unamused. "She doesn't like things in her ears."

I looked over. "This, she won't mind."

But it turned out he was right, as he is a Mother Mary Expert, and she didn't like things in her ears, which is another reason she stopped wearing her hearing aids. Also because she has bone spurs in her neck, which matters for a reason I cannot understand. Evidently, bone spurs are the enemy of hearing.

Anyway, where it stands now is that Mother Mary and Brother Frank are ignoring the cottage and living in my family room, gathered around my blaring TV, watching Matlock and yelling WHERE'S THE REMOTE?



In my family, ARE YOU GETTING UP? is code for I want something from the kitchen and I'm hoping you'll bring it to me. If you even shift on your seat around a Scottoline, you'll be asked ARE YOU GETTING UP?

Usually, I'm the one who's getting up.

And right now, I'm going to the cottage.

Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella's essays have been published in "My Nest Isn't Empty, It Just Has More Closet Space" and "Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog." Lisa's latest novel, "Save Me," is on sale now. Visit Lisa at