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The Mom’s sense of humour, as you may have surmised, is slightly odd. What she thinks is hilarious can vary from day to day, and what tickles her fancy is frequently difficult to explain.

Case in point: her collection of all our old concert t-shirts.

She is the only Mom I know who thinks it’s funny to wander around wearing merch from shows she’s never seen, although, and this might be even more unusual, she can usually give a brief, most accurate description of the band she is advertising.

In fact, in a recent packet of clippings she sent me an advert for a Soundgarden Jane’s Addiction show that was playing in her town. I don’t think she went as there has been no display of a new t-shirt. She was, during our teenage years, quite well-versed in all things alt rock. She quite liked Jane’s Addiction (mostly the dogs barking at the beginning of Been Caught Stealin’), loved the Beastie Boys (but then, who in their right mind doesn’t?), and can occasiaonly still be found singing along with the Jesus and Mary Chain (whose album Stoned and Dethroned was, for several years, one of the few CDs we could all as a family agree on listening to in the car). She knows about Pearl Jam, and how the guitarist has Crohn’s, and how Eddie Vedder is a surfer, and this knowledge is the sort of thing she’s quite keen on displaying.

She may think it makes her appear younger. I don’t know if it does or not, but all my friends have always thought she was cool. Though I doubt this was for her taste in music as she also is a big fan of Michael Bolton.

Anyhow, her collection of zany and wacky t-shirts has been rounded out and broadened significantly of late, as Crazy D sometimes will arrive home with a new t-shirt he had to buy on work travels because he ran out of clean ones, forgot to pack spares, or lost his luggage. It’s The Mom’s favourite holiday souvenir.

And I can’t believe I hadn’t realised that earlier. Every time I go away to a place that’s not hers, I try and keep an eye peeled for a wee gift that she might like, a bracelet, a card, print, poster, something tasteful and suitable. Even as I type these words my foolishness is becoming glaringly apparent. The Mom wants nothing to do with something tasteful or suitable. She wants funny and or tacky, but preferably both.

For Christmas one year, I got her a t-shirt in Toronto’s Chinatown, that had a checklist of all the indignities Toronto had recently suffered: SARS, garbage strike, blackout, and so on. She adored it. More so than all the other things we gave her that year. She still wears it and will talk loudly and prould you anyone about its merits as a comedy t-shirt.

She has also recently developed a collection of ‘I Heart cities’ t-shrits. You know, I heart NY, I heart LA, I heart London, and so on and so forth. Thing is, I’m not entirely sure where she’s getting them from because, after a quick whip round on text message, it transpires that none of my siblings nor I have been to a few of the places The Mom’s t-shirts now boast that she loves. Capetown? Who went to South Africa and didn’t say?

So my new rule is this: instead of spending time and energy on finding something nice for her, I’m going to go to the nearest weird t-shirt shop and buy the tackiest thing in there. She’ll love it, I’m sure.