Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Everything is OK. Except If You're Reading This, I'm Probably Dead

I've recently met a new friend and we email each other a lot. I love getting her emails, except every few days she drops one of these:
something really shocking happened, but I'll tell you about it later. Bye!
The fuck?
So I retaliate:
If you continue this leaving-me in-suspense tactic, I may become a Xanax addict to help me deal with the anxiety.

which, between us, would be hard because I've never taken a Xanax in my life, but I'm sure I'd be a quick study.

But I also get it. Because when I was ten years old and in summer camp, I would write letters like this to my parents:
Dear Mama and Papa:

Thank you for the sacrifices that you made to send me to Surprise Lake Camp. It is a very surprising place. I have no friends. Everyone thinks that my poison ivy scars are from beatings that I got in Russia. I may have told them that I was beaten by local anti-semites. Sadly, another girl seems to be getting similar "Jewish scars" as she's recovering from poison ivy. Also, something bad happened to me, but I don't want to worry you so I will tell you about it later. And now I must end my short and sad letter because I want to cry, I miss you so much. Your daughter, Marinka

I can only imagine the phone conversation that occurred when my Broken English (no relation to Marianne Faithful) parents tried to call the camp.
"The Marinka, is she ok? We are receiving letter of alarm."
The reason that I can "only imagine" this conversation is that I am sure that it did not take place. And the reason that I am sure of this is because my parents told me. "What is point of the calling?" they asked me. "If you could write a letter, you were ok." Damn it! Why didn't I get myself dismembered just to show them?

But my letter of alarm set the tone for all our future communications. Mama will call me and say, "Is everything ok? Yes? Good. Here, too. I was going to make some borscht, should I bring some over?"
And I learned that whenever I call my parents, I have to preface each call with, "Hi, everything is ok, I just wanted to-". It is so ingrained in me that over the past decade I have actually made the following phone calls to my parents:

"Hi mom, everything is fine, but we lost all our money in the stock market."

"Hi, everything is ok, but my father-in-law has colon cancer."

"Good morning, everything is ok, but I have no will to live left." (Disclaimer: This was during the TV writers' strike, no need for alarm. Unless they strike again, in which case, send me a poison pill).

So, I sort of wonder what the purpose of "everything is ok" is. And so does Husbandrinka.

"Your parents called to say that everything is ok and that would you call them back, please?" he lets me know when I come home from a night of debauchery.
"Isn't it reassuring that they tell you that everything is ok?" I ask.
"No," he tells me. "Why can't we assume that everything is ok unless we hear otherwise?"
Why? Because you married into a family of Old World lunatics, I want to scream. But instead, I pass out gently into the night.



Blogger the mama bird diaries said...

I have a friend who always has URGENT, CALL ME IMMEDIATELY kind of news. And then I frantically call back and she says something like, "My toaster oven keeps burning my waffles."

March 11, 2009 at 12:18 AM  
Blogger Maggie May said...

mama bird made me crack up and forget what the hell i was going to write

March 11, 2009 at 1:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Me thinks you are drunk posting, just like me. Or am I drunk twittering? It's hard to remember.

March 11, 2009 at 1:31 AM  
Blogger Your escalator operator said...

Great post and a hilarious blog. New reader here - just wanted to thank you for the laughs. I'm a big fan.

March 11, 2009 at 1:44 AM  
Blogger bernthis said...

I just assume everyone knows that I am calling b/c it is urgent b/c i have no life and I just need to share, right now

March 11, 2009 at 1:45 AM  
Blogger mo.stoneskin said...

I just wanted to let you know that everything is fine, but I just accidently swallowed enough poison ivy to kill a blue whale and I'm feeling just a little damn unwell.

I've got the wednesday morning blues (why isn't it friday?), my back aches and work is so manic that I'm contemplating overdosing on coffee, but this post made me grin on the train like a goldang schmuck, thanks for that :)

March 11, 2009 at 3:09 AM  
Blogger ♥ Braja said...

Passing out gently is good, but can you try passing out quietly?

March 11, 2009 at 3:18 AM  
Blogger Belle said...

I don't know Marinka. You can't pick your family, so it looks like you are stuck with Mama and Papa. But the new friend....I'd re-evaluate. She sounds like she has issues.

March 11, 2009 at 3:52 AM  
Blogger Roshni said...

Must be really comforting to hear the "everything is ok BUT.... sentence!

March 11, 2009 at 5:26 AM  
Blogger A Woman Of No Importance said...

My mother always thought it was bad news if the 'phone rang after nine at night, and jumped and shrieked whenever it happened!

Now, I'm pretty 'phone phobic, and would never call anyone after 8!

Lovely, funmy post, Marinka, just like you! (Allegedly.)

March 11, 2009 at 5:53 AM  
Blogger OHmommy said...


I forgot to start my conversation with my immigrant mother that way and she was convinced for weeks thereafter that I was majorly depressed and on a verge of a huge meltdown.

It was hard to redeem myself but I have never forgotten to start the convo with the right words. "Hi, Mama. We are all ok..."

March 11, 2009 at 8:04 AM  
Blogger CSY said...

I'm wondering if we have the same friend, cause I've got one that does that to me!

March 11, 2009 at 8:14 AM  
Blogger michelle said...

Amazing how those family habits are. When I was young, my mother always started bad new with the phrase, "I have to tell you something". Now, whenever I hear that, I immediately think someone is dead. Meanwhile, my husband is saying, "I have to tell you something, the dogs need to have a bath or else I am going to sell them on ebay" or something like that!

March 11, 2009 at 8:19 AM  
Blogger Swistle said...

My mom always says, "Everything's fine NOW, but...." and then a long dramatic pause. AACK.

March 11, 2009 at 8:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I call my mom while on a trip anywhere, the first thing she says is "What's wrong?" She is firmly in the camp of no news is good news, so clearly something must be wrong if I'm calling. It's been an adventure married to a man who calls his parents because he pulled into a gas station and is half way home.

March 11, 2009 at 9:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you need to consider writing movie scripts! It sounds like an exerpt from My Big Fat Greek wedding or Moonstruck.

March 11, 2009 at 9:43 AM  
Blogger Suzie said...

I have thoe same talk with my folks. You are too funny.

March 11, 2009 at 9:47 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

You lucky lady! Count your blessings that they admit they are just calling to say everything is ok. My mother in law calls every single Sunday...she starts the conversation with a long sing songy Hi! and then completely shuts down because she has nothing to say and expects you to carry the entire conversation! What the fuck?!!? I PRAY that she would call, say that she called to say everything is fine, we could then repeat and then hang the hell up!

March 11, 2009 at 9:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh man that was a funny post

March 11, 2009 at 10:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

great post-- omg, i just heard some inside scoop re: google and their blog policy! UNBELIEVABLE! i'm in shock!! i'll email you later...

March 11, 2009 at 10:36 AM  
Blogger Lynn C Mama to 3 said...

My friend always texts me to reach her ASAP, its an emergency. Then I reach her after hours of getting voicemail and her earth shattering news is akin to declaring that Clay Aiken is gay. Response? Duh. Click.

March 11, 2009 at 10:57 AM  
Blogger Joanie said...

If my 18 year old daughter (Dani) call my 24 year old daughter (Gina), Gina won't answer, Hello? She answers with "WHAT'S WRONG??" sigh.... that usually starts a bickering session between the two of them. But they are both Drama Queens and Gina has the degree to prove it.

March 11, 2009 at 11:24 AM  
Blogger LTYM said...

I'm so jealous that your family is such a goldmine of humor. Nothing funny happens with us WASPs.

March 11, 2009 at 11:50 AM  
Blogger Captain Dumbass said...

In my family we prefer not to tell anyone anything. Then you drop a bombshell a few years down the road. Always entertaining.

March 11, 2009 at 12:03 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

My family is only this funny every once in a while. And I can't blog it when it happens because they would so not think that was funny.

At all.

March 11, 2009 at 12:21 PM  
Blogger Keyona said...

I hate the suspense. "I got something to tell you, call me later." Don't say that. If you can't tell me then don't mention it. Just.Tell.Me.Later. Just sayin'.

March 11, 2009 at 1:04 PM  
Blogger Deb said...

Well, all the commenters have been funny, witty, etc, but I noticed that none of them have offered you any Xanax. Consider it done. I've got your back.

March 11, 2009 at 1:06 PM  
Blogger Jeanne Estridge said...

We do the Appalachian equivalent in our family: "How're y'all?" "Good, how 'bout yu'uns?" "Good." "Well, good." Then, and only then, can the actual conversation begin.

March 11, 2009 at 1:08 PM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

Oh too funny. Old habits can be hard to break. Sounds like a great little ritual to me :)

March 11, 2009 at 1:45 PM  
Blogger bonnie-ann black said...

i don't know if any of you have ever heard the joke about "the cat was on the roof"... in my family when they're going to give you news that isn't good but doesn't involve an actual death, they start with "the cat was on the roof..."

my brother calls me once a month, and starts each phone message with "there's nothing *wrong*..." and he needs to, because since 1993, there have been 2 deaths, 2 heart attacks, major surgery and multiple injuries in the immediate family group. i sympathize with your family anxieties.

March 11, 2009 at 3:32 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

Marinka, you are like a SPIRITUAL DAMN GURU! Everything is OK because everything is OK.

You really should shave your head, start wearing a bedsheet and handing out something at airports, like shot glasses or buttons that say ugly people are unattractive.

March 11, 2009 at 4:42 PM  
Blogger Aracely said...

I had just managed to erase those miserable writers strike memories from my mind!

March 11, 2009 at 5:41 PM  
Blogger JoeinVegas said...

Mmm, borscht. I don't have any Xanax for you, but how about some chocolate and a margaritta?

And wait a minute, I came over hear expecting a post about Heather's labia. Where is it?

March 11, 2009 at 6:32 PM  
Blogger MommyTime said...

I'm so glad you are not dead. THEN what would I read?

March 11, 2009 at 7:10 PM  
Blogger Marinka said...

JoeinVegas: I will be posting about Heather's labia shortly. You should probably just stay on this blog and keep refreshing throughtout the next few weeks so that you don't miss it.

March 11, 2009 at 7:19 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I can just tell from the tone in my voice when my Mom calls whether "everything is okay" or not!

Your camp letter is hilarious. Sorry about the poison ivy... ; )

March 11, 2009 at 7:25 PM  
Blogger HoodChick said...

I'll try to put your poison pill in the mail BEFORE I take mine.

March 11, 2009 at 8:03 PM  
Blogger blognut said...

I'm with Husbandrinka on this one, but you don't have to tell him that. I only want to be called if everything is not okay. If you've got my number in your wallet as an emergency contact, I'll get a call if things are not okay. I'm good with that.

March 11, 2009 at 9:36 PM  
Blogger The Mind of a Mom said...

Everything is okay, good to know you were able to pass out gently. Hope you find out what is going on soon! the suspense is killing me and I do have Xanax! LoL

March 11, 2009 at 10:27 PM  
Blogger Cynthia said...

Hi, everything is OK, I've lost the will to live. LOST won't be back until next week:P

March 11, 2009 at 10:54 PM  
Blogger Robin said...

Everything is ok, except that I was blinded when those godawful ruffles poked my eyes out!

And as a completely unrelated aside, my cousin went to Surprise Lake - she hated it too. I however went somewhere else and loved it, so maybe it was the camp ;-).

March 12, 2009 at 6:44 AM  
Blogger Mary@Holy Mackerel said...

I so wish we had known each other when we were wee ones. My family is Polish, and I really could have used a friend who "understood", if you know what I mean...

March 12, 2009 at 10:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I go out of my way to choose first generation friends, because usually their parents are even crazier than my hippie American parents.

It's always a good story exchange, and they usually win.

March 12, 2009 at 4:57 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I wrote similar letters to my parents from a camp called Hoofbeat Ridge.... only they were more like, "Save me from these horrible girls! They are all so rich and mean and if I have to hear about one more 'my mommy is redecorating while I'm gone this summer' I'm going to slit my wrists! Please some get me!!!" Complete with tears splashed across the page.

:) Fucking campers!

March 16, 2009 at 4:58 PM  

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