Don't get me wrong, I loved my Mom. She was a loving, wonderful woman who savored life. She worked hard to learn and impart that knowledge to me, but sometimes...the things she could come up with. These are the ones that turned out funny.
* Shrimp cocktails contain raw shrimp -- Mom once told me about going downtown to eat at Bishop's with her little sister, Doris Jeanne. She said, "And, your Aunt ordered TWO shrimp cocktails--and those shrimp were raw." Yeah, that had a high ewwww factor for me as a kid. So, I'm out on a date at a nice restaurant (Bishop's was gone before I was born) and the wait-person offers me a shrimp cocktail. My response was, "My cat might like raw shrimp, but I'm not a fan." Everyone around us heard and laughed and the poor waiter nearly dropped a tray.
Nope, Mom, those shrimp are boiled and then chilled for the cocktail--and they are delicious.
* They cut off the heads of bodies to embalm them -- Mom used to tell the joke about the funeral director getting a complaint when a widow realized her husband had the wrong suit on. The man just picked up the husband's head and switched it with the other guy who had the right suit. I was twenty-two and got a chance to speak to the head of the Funeral Directors and Embalmers Agency for Oklahoma for a client. When I told him what Mom said, he about broke something laughing. It's a common misconception--and so's the joke.
Nope, Mom, the Funeral Director uses intravenous fluids to embalm the body after they drain all the blood out.
* People glow in the dark when they get radiation poisoning -- Mom told a story about some women who were working at a watch-making factory. They would use their tongues to shape the brush when they were painting on radioactive paint to make the watch hands and numbers glow in the dark. Fortunately, no embarrassing anecdote here; however, the women did not glow in the dark. Whatever they painted with the radium-infused paint did glow--such as fingernails, toenails and teeth.
The lawsuit the women filed led to a landmark decision requiring employers advise workers when they are handling unsafe materials. For the whole case, see:
The Radium Girls
Mom, you weren't entirely wrong on this one and I give you credit for knowing about something that happened in 1917, two years before you were born. While people who get radiation poisoning do not glow in the dark, the lesson from this is clear--don't ingest stuff unless you know exactly what it is. Pity I didn't learn that before I liked Hostess Snowballs.
Rebecca McFarland Kyle, January 2013