I’m Not Weird…My Mother Had Me Tested

laugh in


ZERO….ZERO…ZERO. 009 do you read me?

Gales of laughter.

What’s so funny, you’re asking? Well to three 14 year old girls circa…a while ago…it was hilarious. A secret world constructed by friends for no apparent reason other than it was funny. FUNNY because it was spoken into a lipstick.


Ahem. So, I’d been thinking about the types of “things” that develop among friends. Secret codes, references, memories, bric a brac that only that one friend or group of friends “gets.” Mention any of them, and it’ll take you all collectively back to a time with less stress, more fun or just goofiness.

I started early. With these same friends, Mary and Diana we concocted lots of events. The earliest provided courtesy of my new tape recorder. MARVELOUS invention that. We proceeded to tape our own rendition of Laugh In only we called it “Flush In” (cue toilet) We told corny jokes and imitated a character made famous on the original version by Ruth Buzzi “Hiiiiiiii, I’m Sassy!) Seriously, I just giggled at that.

Then flash forward a few more years and a gloomy, rainy day in Diana’s basement.  A whole scenario of playing hospital. Hmmm…maybe 11 at the time. Thus came about the role of Dr. Romaro and Nurse Klondike. Mary  was Romaro and I of course was Nurse Klondike. Diana? Well, she was in possession of the “patient” a certain Mr. Peanut doll. Poor Mr. Peanut had a whole range of ailments from being roasted to problems with his….

Hey! We were just figuring things out. 😀 But Mary and I still refer each other as Romaro and Klondike…esp. when a medical question is involved.

Onward to high school and long rides on the bus. A random discussion of  Dragnet brought out scenes acted out by Joe Friday (Mary), Bill Gannon (me) and…well….Diana ended up being the stalwart intern Sam Quartet.


I know ya’ll aren’t laughing like I am but we all have shared experiences with out closest friends. Minute things that you elaborate on, crack up at, understand with one word or mention of something (Mr. Peanut!) that brings back a host of fond memories.

It doesn’t end with adulthood.

A few weeks ago, at RWA Nationals, Susan Sey and I shared a room. We were talking about my cat (I so rarely do) and she played a comedy bit she’d heard on NPR by my new favorite comedian Mike Birbiglia.

It was called Of Mice and Men. I was unable to locate a recording of it but here is the transcript.

I, uh– I think that my favorite thing about being married is actually that you can share jokes with your wife or husband that are funny to you and that person and no one else other than maybe your cat. Because when you have a cat, your barometer for humor, poof, out the window.

Last summer, my wife and I went on a trip to Massachusetts. And I called it Cats-achusetts– which is not funny, but in our house was the joke of the year. I was like, we’re going to Cats-achusetts. My wife is like, ahh! I was like, ahh! Our cat was like, ahh!

Everyone loves a good pun when you have a cat. And so we drive to Cats-achusetts. And when we arrive, my wife has a headache. And she asks me if I’ll acclimate Ivan– that’s our cat– to the bedroom, because you can’t just put an indoor cat into a house, because he’ll explode.

And so I bring him in the bedroom. But I’m so tired from the drive that I fall asleep, which is the only thing you cannot do when acclimating an indoor cat to a house. And so I wake up an hour later. Ivan is gone. He got out.

And so now I’m running around the house. I’m like, my cat’s going to explode. I wake up my wife. I was like, Clo– her name’s Jen– I say, Mr. Fantastic is gone– his name’s Ivan. And Clo gave me a look that I can only describe as “divorce eyes.”

Because before that, point I was convinced that we would be married forever. And then once I saw the divorce eyes, I was like, oh, I guess this could end. And if it ended, it would look a lot like that.

And so now the two of us are running around the house. I’m like, my marriage is falling apart. My cat’s going to explode. And we find Ivan, but we had another major problem in the house, which is that there were mice in the house.

It was actually worse than that, because they were parasitic mice. They have what’s called toxoplasmosis, which means they have a– yeah, you might know what this is. They have a parasite in them, and as a result they’re unafraid of cats, and they’re unafraid of people.

And the way we discovered this was that my wife was watching TV, and she looked next to her. And there was a mouse. And he was watching TV also. And she screamed!

And he just looked up at her like Stuart Little– like, hey, what’s going on? I don’t like this show either. I don’t know why all those women would want to marry that one guy.

And then she pushed him off the couch. And he didn’t even run away. He didn’t even scurry, which is a verb invented for mice. He just walked into the kitchen, like a roommate– like, fine! I’ll go in the other room! I just think you’re overreacting.

And then he did a confessional into the Mouse Cam in the kitchen. He was like, I’m not here to make friends. I’m here to win. I was here before they came. I’ll be here when they’re gone. I’m a mouse.



That’s from “Real Mouse-wives of Cats-achusetts.” That night, I’m sound asleep, and my wife wakes me up by grabbing my face. She says, Mo– my name’s Mike– Mr. Fantastic found the mouse. You need to get the mouse.

And I sit up, and I say Clo, we have a cat. We do everything for the cat. We gave him food. We give him an apartment that he thinks is the world. We set aside an area in the apartment for him to poop in that we clean more often than the area where we poop.

We have a gentleman’s agreement that in the unlikely event that a mouse should walk in that door (A LA MARLON BRANDO) that he will kill that mouse and we will never speak of that mouse again. And he will be protected. (NORMAL VOICE) That’s from “Cat-father.”



My wife says, Mo, get the mouse. And I sit up, and I see what may be the strangest tableau I will ever witness in my entire life. Ivan’s smacking the mouse. The mouse flies in the air, lands, gets up, walks back towards Ivan.

Ivan smacks the mouse, flies in the air, lands, gets up, walks back towards Ivan. Ivan is thrilled! His toy is alive!

I have a serious sleepwalking disorder. So as I am watching this, I’m not even really sure it’s happening. I’m thinking, I’ve had this dream before.

My wife says, Mo, get the mouse. And she hands me a cup.

I sit up. I walk towards the mouse. And the mouse walks towards me. I put the cup over the mouse. I put a magazine under the cup. I take the cup into the backyard, and I put the mouse into the forest, where I can only assume that he walked into the mouth of a wolf.

And from that day forward, we have called it Mouse-achusetts.



I want to point out something really special that happened there at the end. A few minutes ago, I prefaced this story with a Massachusetts-based pun, Cats-achusetts, which we all agreed as a group is not funny.

Just moments ago, I concluded the story with another Massachusetts-based pun that was nearly identical. And that was Mouse-achusetts. And we applauded.



Which means, in a way, it’s like we’re married.

ROFLMAO. So here we were, two grown women, in our PJ’s, reveling in each other’s company after a LONG day of travel cracking up! And so began our unique take on the conference.

For the rest of the week, we referred to each other as Mo and Clo. Susan had to be Mo, I mean she had Mo written all over her. We sent each other texts in the vernacular of the comedy routine, made up scenarios involving Mr. Fantastic 😀 The best occurred at dinner one night. We were separated at a long table. Texting ensued. ME: So, Mo. Ya miss me? SUSAN: Of course, Clo. Where’s Mr. Fantastic? ME: Oh, he’s under my chair. SUSAN: Be careful that he doesn’t explode.



Anyway, tell us about you and your friends, family or Framily 😀 Do you all have any secret shared stories, goofy made up language? Is there a Mr. Fantastic in your life? 😀  Have you ever been to…wait for it…MOUSE-achuessets?

Mr Fantastic

Did you see that mouse?


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  • Jane says:

    Hello Joanie,
    We don’t exactly have a made up language, but my cousin and I do have a certain shorthand with each other. We create nicknames for other family and friends and usually try to out-funny each other.

    • Joan Kayse says:

      Good Morning Jane!

      Yep, friends do speak their own language. I also had another friend in 10th grade. We found a copy of the Russian alphabet (or so the book said) and wrote notes to each other using it. I got very proficient in it and Oh! It just brought to mind, we started calling each other Lillian and Dorothy Gish…Had NO bearing on ANYTHING but I played Dorothy so well, Lillian would have been proud 😀

  • Amy Conley says:

    This is a funny topic as my BFF was with me at my mother’s funeral, of course, and I was introducing her to one of my younger cousins. He told me he never brings any of hid “gang” around the family, “too dangerous”, he says.
    My BFF and I look at each other and just laugh. I tell him, “she may know all my secrets, but I know all hers too. Dhe wouldn’t say a word. Anyway Mother (mine) always thought she (BFF) was a good influence on me, st which point the two of us cracked up and he learned something about real friends.

    • Joan Kayse says:

      Amy, so, so sorry about your mother and what would we do without our BFF’s at times such as this? Even in sorrow they share that special connection…plus the added bonus of confusing your brother.

      • Amy Conley says:

        Not only did we pass the notes as pictured above, we made up iur own code and we had aliases, I am ‘Star’ and she is ‘Sadie’.

  • Helen says:


    This is so funny when I was in high school there were a few of us that had a made up language that we would talk in so others couldn’t understand us and the things that made us laigh I can’t even remember how we made this up but yes it was lots of fun 🙂

    Have Fun

    • Joan Kayse says:

      LOL Helen, Mary, Diana and I also evolved into using a unique tone of voice. Kind of like Thurston Howell III from Gilligan’s Island.

      “Oh, Lovey…” Translated. “Oh, Sam Quartet, get us coffee” 😀

  • Shannon says:

    I’ve shared this before. My brothers and I numbered the lectures my Dad gave over and over. The one about integrity. The one about drugs. The one about alcohol and drunk driving. The one of don’t get a girl pregnant or get yourself with child. And so on. I forget whether one was 3 or 12, but if we want to crack each other up at dinner (now with Mom and their children, we’ll say, how about 11? And we’re laughing.

    • Joan Kayse says:

      My goodness Shannon…so many boxed lectures it went up to 12?

      Too bad your own kids couldn’t just have the lessons memorized so you could just sternly look at them and say “9, 4, 12”

  • Diana Dages says:

    Thanks for the memories Bill, I forgot about the Lipstick . Don’t forget all the Batman and Robin stories we would write as well and trying to fly off your front porch with our own Mary Poppins umbrella (of coarse, after a prayer to Mother Mary for special powers!)

    • Joan Kayse says:

      LOL Diana, yep…I remember the porch thing. If we JUST could have had a stiff wind.

      And BAM POW you’re right. I’d forgotten about those stories. I have a goofy picture of me about age 8 with my Batman t-shirt in fighting stance LOL

  • Susan Sey says:

    Hey, Chlo!

    Just to let you know, I have located Mr. Fantastic, & he is in no danger (at this time) of explosion. I will keep you posted as developments occur.


    • Joan Kayse says:

      Mo!!!! It’s Mo!!!!!!!

      You didn’t let Mr. Fantastic out of the HOUSE did you???

      I saw some mice with sneers on their pointy noses 😀

      • Susan Sey says:

        “I’m not here to make friends. I was here before they came, I’ll be here when they’re gone.

        I’m a MOUSE.”

        [drops mic, strolls off. Note: does NOT scurry, the verb invented for mice.]

  • I’m dying here!!! 😀

    Why you ask?

    Because I got the Susan Sey rendition of this after a few drinks in the bar one night at RWA14 and nearly peed my pants then. Today, I have tears running down my cheeks as I read this and heard her voice telling it to me again!

    Thanks for the laugh, Joan and Susan er Clo and Mo!

  • catslady says:

    The thing about family stories and code words is that it never seems as funny to outsiders because you just had to be there but I’ll try to explain one of ours. A while back we went to meet my husband’s old Viet Nam buddies and their families one state over (left our children with relatives for the first time). The one hosting the party took us site seeing one day. There was lots of farmland and my husband pointed and said, “oh, radishes.” Well, this guy was so unbelievable serious and said, “radishes my @ss” – they’re soy beans. Skip to next year when we took a trip with our kids to the same state and we saw fields of who knows what but my husband and I simultaneously said “radishes my @ss” and from then on it was a family joke – 20 yrs. later we still laugh hilariously about this phrase and the guy has no idea. As I said – you had to be there lol.

  • Jo Robertson says:

    OMG, Joanie, what a hilarious post. I can just see/hear you and Susan cutting a fine rug at National. I’ll bet that was the best part of the conference!

    I used to put on puppet shows fro my little brother (17 months younger than me), using the back of the couch for the “stage.” He cracked up at my Snookie voice, which I can hardly remember and refuse to even try, but he always laughed at that.

    When they were teens, my girls created a secret language similar to pig Latin, but much more complicated and difficult to decipher. I never did get the hang of it. They used it way into their motherhood days to converse in adult ways that they didn’t want their kids to hear.

    One day, however, Gabe, Kennan’s middle child, figured it out. He said, “Do you know I understand your secret language?”

    BUSTED. And then the language lost it’s umph, except when they talk around Grammy Jo because I never “got it.”

  • Joanie, we have nothing like that, alas, but how fun! I love a piece Cassondra showed me on YouTube called “The Nothing Box,” and, of course, “The Mom Song,” which popped up when I was looking for something else.

  • Kaelee says:

    Joan ~ No secret language with friends but we have a few family sayings that have produced some fun results. When my sister’s kids were little and they had to go to the bathroom while travelling they would stop and make a rosebush by the side of the road. Alberta has the Wild Rose as it’s provincial flower. When my husband and I traveled we would often buy postcards with State flowers on it and send it off with a comment like in Texas you make bluebonnets. My sister’s youngest daughter was about 14 when she finally realized that this was just a saying and not the truth. She was mad at me and her mother for months for pulling her leg.

    Yes I have a Lady Saxon and a Mr Fantastic (Dash) in my life.

    Yes I have been to MOUSE-achussetes where you make Mayflowers by the side of the road.

    Another family expression is I’m jello meaning I’m jealous and I’m green jello if I’m really envious.

    • Joan Kayse says:

      ROFL Kaelee…those are FABULOUS!

      Given that context though, I would have just made a huge WEED out in my landscape :0

      I’m jello…snort…too funny

  • Joan Kayse says:

    Thanks for sharing your friend-speak today. Remember:’

    Radishes my a$$