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Boiling Over

January 31, 2014



“Before you head off to Thailand I need help with something,” my mother said to me on the phone yesterday.


I looked at the phone in my hand, wishing it would take flight and wing away so I wouldn’t have to continue this conversation. “Please tell me you aren’t having another problem with your coffee pot.”


“Well, I am. It isn’t working properly. They just don’t make things like they used to. The world is going to hell in a hand basket.”


My mother swears that coffee must be percolated, but electric percolators have become hard to find. Hamilton Beach makes one that can be ordered online, but she’s gone through three of them in four years and it seems ridiculous to buy a fourth.


“You might have to settle for drip coffee, Mom. You can get it 24/7 in the dining room.”


My mother doesn’t frequent the dining room in the retirement facility where she lives. She claims the food is bland or inedible, and she refuses to converse with her fellow residents who she claims are blander than the food. She also says she doesn’t like being surrounded by old people, even though she’s one of the oldest people there.


“I refuse to go to the dining room!”


I didn’t want to leave the country and be haunted by thoughts of her climbing the walls due to coffee withdrawal. “Our old drip coffee maker is in the garage since we purchased the new Keurig. I’ll bring it to you.”


“No thanks. I detest drip coffee.”


I’ve tested her on this—she can’t tell the difference.


“I need you to go to Macy’s. I just called and they have a four cup percolator for $49.00. I need you to pick it up for me. I’ll write you a check when you get here. I’ve jotted down the brand name—it’s a Creosote.”


“That can’t be right. Creosote is a chemical to protect wood from infestation. Could it be Cuisinart?”


“Yes, that’s it! While you’re there, try and talk them down on the price. Tell them I’m a senior citizen on a fixed income.”


Her income is fixed all right, ten times higher than mine. I had no intention of trying to negotiate the price.


After scribbling down the particulars, including the name of the salesperson she’d spoken with on the phone, I drove to Macy’s, circled the parking lot three times before finding a parking place, and made the purchase. With Mom, purchasing precisely what she asks for is not necessarily a recipe for success, as was proven an hour later when I arrived at her door with the purchase. When she saw the coffee maker she wrinkled her face. “You bought the wrong one. This is a drip pot, not a percolator.”


“I bought exactly what you asked for. It says on the box that this brews coffee. Did you confuse the word brew for percolate?”


“Young man, I may be eighty-nine years old but I know the difference between brew and percolate.”


I rolled my eyes. I’ve learned from experience to never give my mother the benefit of the doubt when it comes to relaying or writing down information.


“You’ll just have to take it back. I’m glad I didn’t waste a check by already writing it out.”


“Mom, I’m leaving for Thailand on Thursday. How are you going to get along without coffee?” 


“No problem; I ran the old pot through the dishwasher while you were gone and now it works fine. It was just clogged.”


If there’s a pot somewhere that perks or brews hemlock, I want one.





Now I'm glad I hardly ever drink coffee.
By: PT Dilloway on January 31, 2014
Hahahaha! Sorry, but this is just funny. What a character your mom is~
By: Shelly on January 31, 2014
Ha! Great story. She is right about one thing: Appliances don't last like they used to.
By: Scott Cody Park on January 31, 2014
oh my stars.....your Mom is a piece of work. My Dad was that way too. And SM's Dad was an even bigger corker. Our daughter works as a waitress and has customers who like SM's Dad want the coffee nuclear hot and the ask for ice cubes to cool it down. Some people's children, eh? Have a fabulous time in Thailand and I look forward to your "special touch" with the telling of the tale. Oma Linda
By: Oma Linda on January 31, 2014
you are earning your sainthood, dear boy...
By: TexWisGirl on January 31, 2014
I think she just likes the SOUND of coffee perking!!
By: fishducky on January 31, 2014
Well, you have to give your mother credit for knowing what she likes (even if she can't tell the difference between what she likes and doesn't, taste-wise) and for sticking to her guns. But mostly, thank goodness for the dishwasher! lol
By: Lexa Cain on January 31, 2014
Snort. Yep, clogging is a problem. The best suggestion I can give, maybe go to garage sales and stock up... On earplugs, too, perhaps. I say nothing about the hemlock however. ;) Cat
By: Cat on January 31, 2014
Tell her to call David. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on January 31, 2014
I know that woman...she was my mom. She could be so frustrating but ya had to love her. Besides I think I am turning into her.
By: Cranky on January 31, 2014
And percolated is the best! Funny funny post and I am sure you only exaggerated only a little.
By: Cranky on January 31, 2014
That was laugh out loud funny. You are a good son.
By: Akansas Patti on January 31, 2014
i love stories about your mum. she sounds like such a great character. hope her coffee addiction is sated whilst you're away. :) you are indeed a good son
By: Fran on January 31, 2014
Mrs. Penwasser insisted FOR YEARS on a percolator. But, like you said, they eventually came to be extremely hard to find. Now we have a drip coffeemaker. It's pretty good. At least it's not instant. Ewwww...I'd rather have creosote.
By: Al Penwasser on January 31, 2014
Let me say i'm glad i don't have to make her coffee. She probably wouldn't like it swamp strength.
By: mimi on January 31, 2014
Heh, heh. If only you had walked into Macy's and said you wanted to buy your mom Creosote because her coffeemaker broke.
By: Val on January 31, 2014
Oh that mom of yours. :) I can commiserate with her a wee bit. I'm finding fewer and fewer drip coffee makers which don't have a horrible plastic-like taste to them. From what I've been reading, some people notice it a lot more than others (that would be both Frank and me) but that it's always present in most coffee makers these days. It's a chemical on the plastic parts. So we've been considering a percolator. Now maybe we'll have to rethink that.
By: Hilary on January 31, 2014
My mother and your mother could be friends!
By: Pixel Peeper on January 31, 2014
What is the saying, "If it wasn't so serious it would be funny." I think I have this mangled. Now I know how your mother feels!
By: red on January 31, 2014
I LOVE your 'Mom' stories!!! She sounds like a hoot! I hope your trip is fabulous and I look forward to the stories you bring back!
By: Carrie on January 31, 2014
Our parents can be frustrating at times and the fear I have ia that I'm adopting more and more of their habits. As for creosote, I have ingested coffees that taste like it.
By: Bryan Jones on February 1, 2014
I am not quite sure what a percolator is but I am sure I have seen one if not used one. Perhaps my brain's going.... But, enjoy Thailand now your mom's problem is sorted!
By: Jenny Woolf on February 1, 2014
The word "cantankerous" comes to mind. Do you have siblings that live nearby that can intervene with these types of issues? West Bend and Cuisinart do in fact, make percolators. If her old one gives out, send me her address. Maybe she would be less likely to complain if a total stranger sent her a gift. I am serious.
By: Cheryl P. on February 1, 2014
Oh your mom... She is such a hoot (or maybe you're the hoot because you've kept your sense of humor) :)
By: The Bug on February 1, 2014
Blimey, she sounds a bit like my mother, although I can't see us ever getting her to move into an old people's home!
By: LL COOL JOE on February 1, 2014
Can't argue with her. She's right, percolated is the best tasting coffee. Steve you've been blessed with patience.
By: Daniel LaFrance on February 1, 2014
You really are a good son. And you have such great blog fodder. My wicked stepmother did things that made me want to brew hemlock for her, but I never could make the stories funny so I just didn't publish them.
By: Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma on February 2, 2014
Oh dear, just as well you have patience and understanding.
By: John on February 4, 2014

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