The son of a certified eccentric
May 29, 2014 by Thomas Wictor
My mother CeeCee was brilliant. As I discovered today, she was also a certified eccentric.
Sometime in the late nineties, I got a traffic ticket from a sheriff’s deputy working for the second-most corrupt city in the United States. It was ticket for a “rolling stop,” meaning I didn’t come to a complete stop at a sign. The deputy lied: I did stop.
“The way I know you didn’t come to a full stop,” he said, “is that your car didn’t lurch backwards slightly.”
Since he had a quota to fill, there was no arguing with him. I paid the city its vig and signed up for traffic school, where a bored civil servant droned at us for eight hours. I drew an elaborate escape that I gave to Mom. Today I found it in her stuff.
I come by my eccentricity and love of cartooning honestly: I inherited them from my mother. Along with my driving-school cartoon, today I found one of Mom’s notebooks from her college days. It’s dated 1947, when she was nineteen. It’s one of the weirdest things I’ve ever seen. Here’s the cover.
“Moon—Mr. Moon,” “Aneester Eg,” “Grumpsnort,” “Barney Mouse,” “Punkin,” and a heart with the beginnings of a name, I think. Tim told me that Mom wanted to be an animator for the Walt Disney Studios. I never knew that. She sure had the skill and imagination.
These are all from the inside cover.
I don’t know why, but something tells me that “DUK” is some kind of wild bebop slang. For all you marines out there, skip over this next one.
“Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children.” Now, Mom was in the Observer Corps in World War II, and she was quite the hawk. So this has to be some kind of joke aimed at a former marine she had a crush on.
Further inside-cover strangeness.
There’s that Grumpsnort again, this time with some babies, and a puzzled butterfly. I found “Grumpsnort” mentioned in a series of fantasy books by Dan McGirt. I wonder if he and Mom were secret collaborators.
Mom was so ahead of her time that she used phrases that hadn’t even been invented yet.
That’s in the Urban Dictionary. It’s “normally used in times of frustration or dissatisfaction.” (Spell checker, guys. “Disatisfation”? Oof.)
Mom’s doodles get more and more off-kilter.
“Larva—hob-goblin. Armoracia—horseradish.” Yes, armoracia is horseradish. Larva hob-goblin? No idea. That’s quite an untamed girl, with her raggedy sweater, saggy socks, cigarette, beer, and A-1 steak sauce.
“Good transcendental. One accidents true. Letters.” Who or what were you channeling, Mom?
This is a great page.
Clockwise from the top left: A “pig-catty bank.” A duck with long eyelashes. An angry bellhop-girl. A gorilla labeled “My man!” A bottle of Chianti on a table. A happy baby coming out of a hole in the ground. A “hiraffe.” A pitiful root-vegetable cannon dropping its ball with a feeble “BOOM!” A depressed Mexican beggar in a serape, leaning against a cactus. A Grumpsnort labeled “G.S.” And another Grumpsnort labeled “Gimlet Neuter U.S.M.C.”
And then total madness.
A mouse telling an elephant, “I am an individual mouse.”
The elephant replies, “Mudder!”
And the mouse says, “My son!”
During the period she wrote and drew all this delirium, Mom visited Laguna Beach with her pals Rose Ann and Florence. A passing photographer asked if he could take their picture standing in the surf. They agreed. He directed Mom to turn sideways because he said she was too wide.
She told him to cram it.
Chastened, he took the photo and sent each woman a copy. Roseann is on the left, and Florence is on the right.
I wish Mom had told tons more people to cram it. Sideways.
And if Gimlet Neuter U.S.M.C or his descendents are out there, please drop me a line. Tell me what the heck my mother was talking about. She sounds like the Chinese spambots that send me messages every day.
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