Mother’s Day Potpourri – GordonShumway

DSC01206I know my mother’s favorite athlete without even asking. Unfortunately, she bleeds Carolina Blue and said athlete is Tyler Hansbrough, which makes me feel like eating oven cleaner. To her, Psycho T is the most adorable boy ever. She thinks his big eyes make him look like a Precious Moments figurine, while I think they make him look like a cow. Potato, potahto.

The ‘rents were in town this weekend so I thought I’d take the time to ask her about her all-time favorites, mainly because that gave us something to talk about other than my unemployment…


Dad: You really need to find a source of income. Your neighbor is going to notice that you’ve been eating out of her bird feeder.
Me: Maybe, but I’ve never been more regular. Mom, who were your favorite athletes when you were my age?
Mom: Which neighbor? The one with the perm or the lesbia—what?
Me: You know. The sports stars you thought were the hottest.
Mom: I get them confused. They both wear Crocs. Hmm… that’s a tough question.
Dad: If you mention Wilt Chamberlain, I’m leaving. And getting some disinfectant.
Mom: I’d have to say the Lone Ranger.
Me: He doesn’t count.
Mom: Why? He rides a horse. That’s a sport.
Me: I just—
Dad: I like roller derby.
Mom: What’s this for?
Me: I’m writing about it.
Dad: And beach volleyball.
Mom: Is this for that website? The one you won’t let me read?
Me: No, of course not. It’s for the church newsletter.
Dad: And that commercial where the girl washes a car.
Me: So what about football players? Joe Namath?
Dad: Or Y.A. Tittle?
Mom: Doesn’t he do our taxes?
Dad: Red Grange?
Mom: I really never liked football.
Dad: That’s Jimmy Candor’s fault.
Me: Who’s Jimmy Candor?
Dad: This football player she grew up with who used to put her in a trashcan every day.
Mom: He did. Every day. And he’d sit on the lid.
Dad: Your mother was the original Oscar the Grouch.
Mom: I think Jimmy’s in prison now.
Me: Let’s try again. Did you play any sports?
Mom: Croquet. I hit Bob Taylor in the head with the mallet once.
Dad: What happened on the second date?
Mom: I hit Ray Ellis too.
Dad: He’s definitely in prison now.
Mom: And Phil Powell.
Dad: That was at the class reunion. Last summer.
Mom: I never liked those things anyway.
Me: This is going well. Did you watch sports?
Dad: Your mother didn’t have a TV.
Mom: Yes we did!
Dad: They did puppet shows instead.
Me: <sobs, considers stabbing self with pickle spear>
Mom: Oh! Is race car driving a sport?
Dad: If there’s a chance of incineration, it’s a sport.
Mom: Then it’s Fireball Roberts!
Me: Who’s he?
Dad: Someone who was incinerated.
Mom: Yes, definitely Fireball Roberts. I loved him.
Me: Perfect!
Dad: You have some birdseed in your teeth.

Yes, he exists. And it’s not at all troubling that my mother was attracted to someone who looks like he recently escaped from a chain gang.

Picture 1

Meanwhile the woman on the left (who is not my mother) is looking for the source of his nickname.


Edward Glenn “Fireball” Roberts had a successful 15 year career as a stock car racer, was voted one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers, and is enshrined in the International Motorsports Hall of Fame. There is a street named for him in North Carolina, allowing you to drive your car on a road memorializing a man who died while driving a car.

Fireball Roberts

Miss Autolite smiles because she donated her pants to the war effort.
Miss Pontiac laughs because the war is over.

If Mr. Roberts had lived a generation later, he certainly would’ve earned NASCAR’s highest honor, a rear window decal of Calvin pissing on his race car number.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.

31 thoughts on “Mother’s Day Potpourri – GordonShumway

  1. TSW- Yes, my parents did grow up together in the same tiny town (with Holly’s mom practically next door, so we are probably cousins) but they didn’t really go out because on their first date, my father picked my mother up in a hearse. Classy, Dad, really classy.

  2. Dad went to military school, so he found out about trashcan guy after the fact. Otherwise, I’m sure he would’ve…um…given him a sternly worded lecture about wasting his potential.

  3. i feel the need to point out that not only did J’Money’s and my Momma’s people grow up practically neighbors, but that this all went down in West Fuckin’ By-God Virginia, which lends the whole story an air of awesome, gleeful menace, don’t you think?

  4. I’m pretty sure this is why she started college at sixteen (of course, escaping into Knoxville is just like jumping circles of hell).

  5. Your writing is consistently funnier than anything else I read. Brilliant, as always.
    Also, Fireball Roberts is the kind of jug-eared handsome that I’m constantly reaching for but never able to grasp. That jumpsuit? Mostly fireproof, completely divine.

  6. “If you mention Wilt Chamberlain, I’m leaving. And getting some disinfectant.”

    I laughed so hard the dog came running in to see what all the racket was about – and it only got better from there!

  7. I just want to know if you recreated that entire conversation from memory, or did you have the tape recorder going?

  8. While in no way does racing cars qualify as a sport, Fireball is all man.

    Also, this was awesomely funny, as always, Shumway. And now I know where your sense of humor comes from.

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