Letter from Ben Franklins Mamala

Jan Marshall

“Lightening Up With Jan”

Resident Jan Marshall is a Humorologist, award-winning author, and humor columnist for adults and aspirational books for children.

by Jan Marshall

Does my Benny have memory problems? I sent you a letter weeks ago and you never wrote back and Sunday IS Mother’s Day. That includes your mother too!
I am resending my note to you. Stop flying underwear in the sky and write back to your mameh!


Ben Franklin

Philadelphia, Pa.                                                                                                                                                                                     July 4, 1776


Dear Benji,

Why haven’t I heard from you?  You know I worry.  If you had time to sign all those declarations, while you had the quill out, couldn’t you drop me a line?

Sure, I received your thank-you note for the Chinese urn I sent, but I was hoping for a real letter.  Not that your letters are always cheerful, believe me.  Why do you still resent being one of fifteen children?  So you had to wear hand-me-downs.  So?  So your sister isn’t much bigger than you.  If you’re so smart, why didn’t you tell your father that an ounce of prevention was worth – well…never mind.

Benji, there are a couple of things I want to talk to you about, and as your mother, I have a right.  My friend said you were seen in Congress last week wearing those stupid little spectacles.  Are you aware that all the young girls are wearing them now, and they call them granny glasses?  Are you a girl, Benji?  Are you a granny?  No!  So stop it!

This same friend mentioned she saw you flying something in the sky that looked like pantaloons,  Honestly, Benji, can’t you at least do that in the privacy of your own backyard?  You’re lucky they don’t put you away.

Speaking of luck, you are pushing yours.  Everyone here has heard about your little escapades, and if you’re not careful, your wife – what’s-her-name – is sure to find out.  I’ve learned about the new one you’ve been sneaking around with, Penny Glickman.  Benji, listen to your mother, stop this Narishkeit. I’m telling you for your own good.  The next time you are with her and you hear your wife approaching, you’d better hide her in the urn.  Believe me, a Penny urned is a Penny saved.

About the stove you shipped me.  You know I’m proud that you made it yourself, but to tell you the truth, I find I get much more use out of the little hibachi I got at Home Depot.  It was a nice thought, though, and in return, I’m going to do something nice for you.  I’m sending you a hair dryer, Benji, and a picture of an artichoke head.  It will help you disguise that bald spot you’re troubled about.  It’s easy.  After you wash your hair, you blow it dry and brush it all toward the front.  All the men are doing it now.  At first you’ll feel like an artichoke, but one you grow used to it, you’ll look smashing.

Speaking of smashing, that’s exactly what I wanted to do to your nose after I read your latest remark, “When man and woman die, as poets have sung, his heart’s the last that moves; her last, the tongue.”  That was so typically choov . . . chauvin . . . shavinis . . . well, you know what I mean.  One more slur like that, and you’ll have to change the name of your almanac to “Poor Bennie’s.”  By the way, there is no “k” in the word “almanac,” Sweetheart.

I guess I’m sounding a little angry, but you know I don’t mean it.  You’re my son, and I am getting a little concerned.  You’re always coming out with those silly little expressions for no apparent reason. What in the world does “snug as a bug in a rug” mean?  You pull those statements out of the air when no one’s even talking to you.  And if you say “Time is money, time is money” one more time, you’ll get punched in your printing press!

Mostly, I suppose, I’m worried about your instability.  Look, you’ve been a candlemaker, a printer, an editor, an inventor, a scientist, a philosopher, a statesman . . . I mean, how do you think that looks on your employment application? Don’t expect to move in with me. I have already rented out your room.

Frankly, Benji, I think you need help . . . which is why I’m writing.  I just heard about a wonderful new therapy group.  I’m sure you’ll benefit from it.  In fact, a couple of the people I heard about there are in even worse shape than you, believe me, so you needn’t be shy.  One of them is a woman called Marie Curie.  She insists on being called Madame, of all things.  Anyway, her husband persuaded her to go to group, because she can’t cook worth a darn.  He says every time she goes into the kitchen, he hears pots rattling and things bubbling on the fire, but when he asks, “What’s for dinner?” she says, “Nothing.”  It’s driving him nuts.

Then there’s also a man named Morse there.  What a nervous character!  He can’t sit still for a minute without tapping his fingers – on tables, chairs, anything he gets his hands on.  Just don’t sit next to him.  All in all, I think the group would be good for you.  Listen, Benji, I only want you to find yourself – to be happy.  Perhaps if you listen to your mother, for once you’ll amount to something.  Most of all, remember what you yourself, told me.  “If a man empties his purse into his head, no one can take it from him . . .”  Need I say more?    Remember to keep warm. If someone ever cones up with the idea of vitamins in a jar make sure you take one a day. Of course chicken soup in a capsule would be even better.

                                                                                    Love, Mom

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