Listen to Your Mother, Benjamin Franklin – Orange County Register


A letter unearthed in an old Laguna Woods mansion:

To: Benjamin Franklin

From: Yo mama

Benji, why haven’t I heard from you? While you were signing all these statements and pulling out your pen, could you write me a note? I received your thank you note for the Chinese urn, but I was hoping for a real letter.

Not that your letters are always cheerful. Why don’t you still like being one of 15 kids? So you had to wear second-hand clothes. So? Your sister is not much taller than you. If you’re so smart, why didn’t you tell your dad that an ounce of prevention was worth it – well, never mind.

Well, there are a couple of things I want to talk to you about. I heard you were seen wearing those stupid tiny glasses called granny glasses. Are you a grandmother? Nope! So stop! Get something more fashionable.

Speaking of luck, you’re pushing your own. Everyone knows your little escapades. If you’re not careful, your wife – what’s her name – is sure to know. I heard about the new girl you’re hanging out with, Penny Pupnik or something. Well, listen to your mother. I tell you for your good. Next time you’re with her and you hear your wife approaching, you better hide her in the vase. Believe me, a penny spent is a penny saved. Oh, stop growling.

I was so embarrassed. A friend mentioned that she saw you late at night flying something in the sky that looked like speedos. Honestly, Benjamin, I thought you were done with your little fetish

About the stove you sent me. I’m proud you made it yourself and thank you, but I find I use more the hibachi I bought from the Sears catalog before he secretly got engaged to Roebuck.

I’m also sending you something. It’s a hair dryer and an artichoke photo. All the men in the village do this. Simply brush the remaining hair from the back of your head forward. You will look stunning!

Speaking of smashing, that’s exactly what I wanted to do to your face after reading your last remark: “When man and woman die as the poets have sung, her heart is the last that moves; his last language. It was so typically choov… Chauvin… savinis – well, you know what I mean. One more insult like that and you’ll have to change the name of your almanac to “Poor Benny’s.” By the way, there’s no k in the word almanac, honey.

I’m worried about your instability. You’ve been a designer, printer, publisher, inventor, scientist, philosopher, statesman… I mean, how do you think your job application is doing in these difficult times? Frankly, Benji, I think you need advice, that’s the purpose of this letter.

I heard about a wonderful new therapy group. I am sure you will benefit from it. Believe me, some of the people there might be worse off than you, so you don’t have to be shy.

One of them, Marie Curie, insists on being called Madame, above all. Anyway, her husband persuaded her to attend the meeting because she can’t cook for nothing. He says that every time she walks into the kitchen he hears pots clattering and things bubbling on the stove, but when he asks “What are we eating?” she says “Nothing!” It drives him crazy.

Then there is a man named Morse. What a nervous Nelly he is! Can’t sit for a minute without tapping his fingers – on tables, chairs, whatever he gets his hands on. Don’t sit next to him…unless you need a massage.

I think this 12 steps would be good for you. Listen, Benji, I just want you to find yourself, to be happy. Maybe if you listen to your mother, you’ll come up with something. Above all, remember what you said to me yourself: “If a man empties his purse in his head, no one can take it from him.”

What the hell does that mean? Need I say more? Acquire help!

love, mom

Jan Marshall’s lifetime work is devoted to humor and healing through books, columns and advice. Media comedian and former television host, she is a certified master hypnotherapist. In 1986, she founded the International Humor & Healing Institute. Its board members included Norman Cousins, Steve Allen, Dr. Bernie Siegel, and John Cleese, along with other physicians and artists. Among her works, she wrote the satirical survival book “Dancin’ Schmancin’ with the Scars: Finding the Humor No Matter What!” As a survivor, she still donates a percentage of book profit sales to the American Cancer Society, American Brain Tumor Association, Wounded Warriors, and the Laguna Woods Village Foundation. Jan has recently published two children’s books, “The Littlest Hero” and “The Toothbrush Who Tryed To Run Away”. Currently, proceeds from all of her books are donated to Contact Jan at


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