“Hi Mom, this is Richard.”


He knew what she was up to and had a plan ready for this contingency.

“Oh, I must have the wrong number.  Sorry.”

“Richard, If you hang up I’ll never speak to you again.”


“How can you say that to your mother.  Until you went to Chicago you were such a dutiful son.”

“I was never a dutiful son.  Your other son is the dutiful son.  What’s his name again?”

“Why don’t you ever call him?”

“Mom, I never call you.  Why should I call him?”

“What do you think my friends would say if they knew you hardly ever call.  You know, I have to lie to them and make up imaginary calls from you.”

“What do I say?”

“Don’t you love me?  I’m so proud of you.”

“Of course, I love you.  You are the Winston Churchill of mothers.”  That sounded good so she decided to let the matter drop, for now.  What he meant was that in a crisis she was unbeatable, but when thing were going well she was best rusticated and avoided.

“So, how’s your arthritis?”  He couldn’t think of any way to segue into the subject.

“What arthritis?  I don’t have arthritis.  You know that.  Why did you ask me that?”

Grollman was thrown into a panic.  He knew what do if her arthritis was flaring or was in remission, but he was unprepared for its nonexistence.

“Are you sure you don’t have arthritis?  I always assumed you did.”

“Richard, what is this obsession you have about rheumatology?  I thought you were going to be a urologist.”

“A nephrologist.”  He knew she was saying that to bug him, but it worked anyway.

“Sure.  How do you spell that?”


“What you just said.  What kind of a word is that any way?”


“Ology is Greek?”

“I don’t know.”

“Well it’s not.”

“How do you know.”

“From Scrabble.  It’s Middle English.”

“It is?”

“Yes.  And I’m coming to visit you next week.”

“You are?


“Will you have arthritis by then?”

“No, I’m never going to have arthritis.  But I do have bursitis.”

“Is it bothering you?”

“Only when I play tennis.”

“You don’t play tennis.”

“I know.  I made a joke.”

“So can I assume that your bursitis is not bothering you at this instant?”

“If you want.”

“That’s what I want.”

“That’s ok by me as long as you call me at least once a week.”

“Why are you coming to visit?”

“Don’t you want to see your mother?”

“Is that a trick question?”

“Richard, stop it.”

“Sorry.  But you never came to see me the whole four years I was in Chicago.”