TRANSCRIPT One Bad Mother Ep. 377: Halloween Memories! with Helen Ellis

Biz is joined by her sister, Helen Michelle, to take a spooky stroll down Halloween Memory Lane. Costumes made from raiding the parent’s closet, trick or treating while sick, and Halloween birthdays with guns. It ain’t like it use to be, which is probably for the better. Plus Biz discovers a new body in the booth.

Podcast: One Bad Mother

Episode number: 377

Guests: Helen Ellis

Transcript

biz ellis

Hi. I’m Biz.

theresa thorn

And I’m Theresa.

biz

Due to the pandemic, we bring you One Bad Mother straight from our homes—including such interruptions as: children! Animal noises! And more! So let’s all get a little closer while we have to be so far apart. And remember—we are doing a good job.

music

“Summoning the Rawk” by Kevin MacLeod. Driving electric guitar and heavy drums. [Continues through dialogue.]

biz

This week on a very special Halloween One Bad Mother—Halloween memories! Biz’s sister, Helen Michelle, stops by for a haunt; and Biz discovers a new body in the booth.

crosstalk

Biz and caller: Woooo!

caller

Yeah. I’m not okay. [Biz laughs.] I mean… Everybody thinks I’m okay? But I’m not okay! I’ve had to miss my last two therapy appointments because of a insurance hiccup. I am three months behind on my rent. I just spent pretty much my entire paycheck paying off a back electricity bill. I just had to redo food stamps. Like, every time I turn around, something new was falling apart. I’m scrambling putting something back together while like three other things are collapsing behind me. And I’m just tired of it. I’m tired of trying to hold it together and I’m tired of everybody thinking I’m okay, but I don’t know how to let people know that I’m not okay without just screaming my head off. I don’t know how to communicate that I’m getting help, but I need more help. [Biz laughs.] I don’t know what to do. And I live in a state where the whole thing is just set up horribly if you need help, because the whole point is to discourage you from doing everything so they can give you as little help as possible. I just—[sighs.] Hate this place. I hate this time of year. I hate the fact that it is an election year. I don’t even wanna deal with this. Ugh. [Sighs.] But it is what it is— [Biz laughs.] —and yeah! I’m just—I’m not okay! And I need to say I’m not okay to someone who’s not going to just be like, Let me fix you! You’re broken!” cause I don’t wanna add that stress to other people. So yeah. Thanks for listening. You’re all doing a great job and I’m doing a great job of pretending I’m doing a great job. [Biz laughs.]

biz

Well. If I was passing out the Academy Award for pretending that you’re doing a great job when you don’t feel like you’re doing a good job, may I present… this Academy Award. That was one hell of a check-in. And I am so glad you did check in, because you are right! That’s… too much! Everything you just listed there—even just one of those things? Too much. And it—this—it is what it is. It’s just like another motto for 2020. It is what it is! Y’know? Like it’s like— [Laughs.] It’s like having a brand-new hat and feeling so pretty and walking outside and then a bird taking a shit on your head. Like that is—that’s where we are. And I think, actually, you’re pretty remarkable? Because… you—it is obvious that you are focused and working on trying to stay ahead of the next thing that falls? And… I think how do you tell somebody? Is you just say it. We just all should be done with it. ‘K? Let them decide if they can help you carry it or not. Okay? You don’t have to decide in advance if somebody would be willing to help. Whatever that “help” is. Okay? Let’s take that one off our plate and let them make their own decision. Don’t worry; they’ll let you know. [Laughs.] If they slowly start backing away and throw a smoke bomb and go “poof!” and disappear, they weren’t—they weren’t in a place to support you emotionally. But I… think… we all might be surprised by who does wanna help support us. So I think you’re doing actually a really remarkable job. That just sounds like a lot. That sounds like a lot.

biz

You know what also is a lot? Is my undying love and appreciation for everybody out there who is… making it happen during this pandemic. Essential workers? [Singing] Do-do, do-do-do-do-dooo! [Regular voice] Roll call! And let’s just go ahead and note that this roll call will forget like 90% of the amazing people out there who are doing work in unbelievable circumstances. All medical professional. Y’know—[sighs.] I now do not know a single person who hasn’t had to go in for something to a doctor’s office or to an emergency room, and hasn’t come out saying how amazed they were by how smooth it went; how empty it felt; now I know, y’know, people are experiencing different things in different locations where we are having extreme spikes? But I just… I know people are working so hard in the medical industry to make things clean and safe and healthy for us. And… for all of you who go in every day and put yourself at risk to take care of us, I appreciate you. I love all the people who—I—y’know, people keep yelling—well, not people. There’s one person in particular who keeps yelling that we should just open everything because nothing’s wrong if we just believe hard enough that nothing’s wrong. It won’t affect us. But as a result, a lot of people are having to go back to work who might not be ready. Teachers? I love you! I hear how tired you are. I hear it! Over the Zooms. You’re amazing. School administrators. The people who help—for those people who have in-person learning? All the people who help keep that school clean and safe for the kids. People who are driving kids back and forth in buses. You’re amazing. People in stores and shopping and delivering. Thank god somebody will deliver wine to me. You are so very, very nice to do so! And I appreciate you. And of course, our United States Postal Service. Thank you! This is a big time of year for you. Handling all the mail-in ballots and I appreciate all the hard work that you are doing to help our election happen. And to the post people who deliver and pick up our mail. And finally, to all of you who are volunteering to be poll workers? Thank you, thank you, thank you! And to everyone who voted. I love you. I love you very much. Thank you for voting. [Deep breath.]

biz

Now, how am I? Well, like I teased at the beginning, there’s a new body in here, guys! We have a new producer! And their name is Gabe. And I’m looking at Gabe right now. And I am so excited that Gabe is joining us as our new producer. Do not worry—I did not murder Hannah. Hannah just went out for milk and never came back. I’m just kidding! Hannah had a wonderful opportunity arise for her and we support her in her new adventures. Also wanna thank Kristen Bennett, the Maximum Fun fellow who helped get us through these few weeks of transition and we are so excited. So if you see Gabe appearing on the Motherboard or any of the boards or anywhere, please say hi and say welcome! Welcome, welcome, welcome. Gabe, guess what I did? I… bought too much candy for Halloween. That’s how I’m doing. That’s my check in. I bought too much candy. I overdid. Not sure how it’s gonna unfold Halloween night. Maybe to make sure that we have the right amount I should just eat some of it in advance. But I love Halloween candy. I love it so very much. I love Halloween so very much. And I think that ties in nicely to what’s gonna happen today… in the past piece of a bonus episodes, guys! Today it’s all Helen Michelle. And all me. Talking about our favorite Halloween memories.

music

Banjo strums; cheerful banjo music continues through dialogue.

theresa

Please—take a moment to remember: If you’re friends of the hosts of One Bad Mother, you should assume that when we talk about other moms, we’re talking about you.

biz

If you are married to the host of One Bad Mother, we definitely are talking about you.

theresa

Nothing we say constitutes professional parenting advice.

biz

Biz and Theresa’s children are brilliant, lovely, and exceedingly extraordinary.

theresa

Nothing said on this podcast about them implies otherwise. [Banjo music fades out.] [Biz and Helen Michelle repeatedly affirm each other as they discuss the weekly topic. They slide in and out of Southern accents, to various degrees, from one word at a time to a full paragraph.]

biz

This week we are welcoming back my sister! Helen Michelle. [Laughs.] Who also is known for a few things, like writing American Housewife. [Laughs.] And Southern Lady Code. And… if you really wanna go back, Eating the Cheshire Cat! Go get that one. Go demand it. That’s a good one if you wanna learn something about the South we grew up in. And she has a new book on the way soon! Welcome, Helen Michelle!

helen michelle ellis

Do I get to woo?

biz

Yes! You can woo with me! [Hallie laughs.]

crosstalk

Both: Wooooo! [Biz laughs.]

helen michelle

Or should we say, “OooOOooOo!”

biz

I know! “OoooOOoOoO!”

helen michelle

Because you know I am coming to you live from New York City where it is officially a ghost town.

biz

I know! It’s a ghost town! [Hallie laughs.] It is a ghost town in New York City!

helen michelle

I’ll be going out tonight with a few other ghosts. [Biz laughs.] Down in Tribeca.

biz

Very nice. Very nice. Helen Michelle! It’s time for our annual discussion about all things Halloween! First though, how are you? This is the first time I’ve laid eyes on you in…

helen michelle

I know! I know. We are phone talkers in our family. I have not laid eyes on my parents [through laughter] or you— [Biz laughs.]

biz

Here. I’ll give you a little taste. I’m gonna take the hair down.

crosstalk

Helen Michelle: Oh Lord Jesus, Lady Godiva! Biz: I know. I’m like a witch!

biz

I’m like a witch is what this hair looks like. [Hallie laughs.] Okay.

helen michelle

I’m good! I’m good. But I wanted to say—‘cause I was just listening to the last episode ‘cause I listen to you every week.

biz

I know. You’re so nice.

helen michelle

Listening to Ellis and his missing tooth.

biz

I know! [Laughs.]

helen michelle

And I love how you always thank the essential workers and I know that I am going to thank you because you are an essential worker.

biz

What?!

helen michelle

Yes, you most certainly are. I know that your listeners agree that you are there every single week and it is greatly appreciated and you give people hope and comfort and understanding and I know that everyone appreciates it. So thank you, Elizabeth!

biz

Thank you, Helen Michelle! [Hallie laughs.] I appreciate that! [Laughs.]

helen michelle

The accents are gonna come on thick.

biz

Oh yeah. Get ready, Gabe. Buckle up. [Hallie laughs.] Buckle up. Again, thank you. I wanna jump in to Halloween. We have spoken. You guys can go back and find us talking about ghosts and haunts—haints and haunts. I think we also talked about superstitions—

helen michelle

Yes.

biz

Which I think we concluded basically all brought us back to the Devil.

helen michelle

Yes. Well superstitions, that’s just paying attention.

biz

Yeah, that’s right! [Laughs.] It is. Superstition’s just paying attention. And some of our other sort of family… I don’t know. [Hallie laughs.] Witchiness? Southernness?

helen michelle

Tradition.

biz

Prophetic dreams.

helen michelle

Yes!

biz

But today—

crosstalk

Helen Michelle: I dreamed of Ellis’s birth. Biz: Oh! Yes! Yes, she did!

helen michelle

Of your pregnancy. Mm-hm. Mm-hm.

biz

Yes. The day I took a test and found out I was pregnant, my sister called me. I was at Mary Burke’s wedding. And she calls me and I’m like in a cabin up in the middle of the mountains and she says, “Elizabeth, I just had a dream.” [Hallie laughs.] And she informed me—

helen michelle

That you had a son.

biz

I had a son. And I said, “Well that’s weird ‘cause I just took a test.” [Hallie laughs.] “And I’m pregnant.”

helen michelle

No! Now I feel that I predicted it and then you went and got the test. That’s the way I tell it.

crosstalk

Biz: Oh, is that it? Okay, let’s tell the story that way. Helen Michelle: That’s the way I tell it.

biz

That’s a much better way to tell the story.

helen michelle

Well and y’know, one of my costumes as a child was always “gypsy.” [Laughs.]

biz

Gypsy! Which—you cannot be a gypsy anymore. Let’s just jump in to—

helen michelle

Inappropriate costumes.

biz

It is! Let’s just jump into inappropriate costumes. [Hallie laughs.] Our life in the South. So— [Laughs.] Costumes. I just would like to start with costumes. And I think that gypsy—and again, it’s like dressing up as a pirate. It’s the most, like, extreme like movie-fed, y’know, generated version of like whatever you can rummage through your mother’s closet.

helen michelle

Yes! It is the easiest costume. All of our costumes were from our parents’ closets. [Laughs.] [Biz laughs.] So—that—does your mother have a 1970s ankle-length patchwork skirt? Boom! You’re a gypsy!

biz

That’s right. Or Stevie NIcks.

helen michelle

Do you have a—does your father have a handkerchief? Tie it to a broomstick! You’re a hobo. [Laughs.] [Biz laughs.] All you have to do, you have a little dress? Paint on some little rosy cheeks and some lipstick and you’re a baby doll.

biz

You’re a baby doll. I mean, like, none of us can ever run for public office because we all have these floating around somewhere. I mean, it’s just—and it’s wonderful that we have moved on. But I wanted to ask you—I hope. Do you remember having a favorite costume?

helen michelle

Oh, that’s a good question.

biz

Thank you! [Laughs.]

helen michelle

I don’t know if I had a favorite costume, but I have a very memorable costume. [Laughs.] I was in the tenth grade. ‘Cause I was never… someone who… sexualized my costumes. Because y’know, we all remember my 13th-grade birthday party ‘cause my birthday is right before Halloween and so there were often Halloween-themed parties and an overly-developed sixth grader— [Biz laughs.] —came to my 13th-year-old birthday party in a nude bodystocking and a six-foot carnival snake wrapped around her because it was the Bible Belt and she was Eve! [Biz laughs.] So—so I think—well, I do think I have a favorite costume, now that my mind is running. My favorite costume was probably from being ten years old, and we had a… detective. Birthday party. And again, Mama made fantastic birthday cakes. One layer. Circle cake. Circle cake. With just a one piece of rectangular piece of cake to make it look like a magnifying glass. Like a magnifying glass cake. And I was Fargo North. Do you know who that is? [Laughs.]

biz

Yes! Fargo North! It was a character from a book, yes.

helen michelle

Yes. So again, it was just my mother’s trench coat and— [Biz laughs.] —a pencil moustache!

biz

That’s right. I think you had Papa’s hat as well.

helen michelle

Yes, and Papa’s fedora! But I do also remember being humiliated at various attempts of costumes, and that’s where I go to tenth grade where there was a big, y’know, girl-boy party at some sort of, y’know, park shed. And again, last minute thinking, “I’m gonna be Sleeping Beauty!” And so I put on my, y’know, Vermont Catalogue flannel— [Biz laughs.] —floor-length rose-print Little House on the Prairie night gown— [Laughs.] And go and everybody all night called me Wee Willie Winkle! [Laughs.] [Biz laughs.]

biz

No! Wee Willie Winkie! Upstairs, downstairs—well that reminds me of my worst—like, my favorite but worst Halloween costume, which is where I was gonna go Trick-or-Treating as Pat Benatar. Do you remember this? I was gonna be Pat Benatar and you and a friend came with me—‘cause I guess I had no one to go Trick-or-Treating with—and you guys came with me and you guys were gonna be my backup singers. And every—and I had like this green, y’know, kinda ripped—something left over from some, y’know, school costume related things. Like, shiny green material with a belt around it. Cinched around it. Leggings and like, y’know, my hair was short. And all this stuff. And like crazy makeup. And every fucking house we went to was like, “Peter Pan!” [Hallie laughs.] And I’m like, “I am Pat… Benatar!”

helen michelle

Pat Benatar! Yes. Was there a costume that you wish you had done and could’ve pulled off? But you never did?

biz

I have always found all costumes hard to pull off because of the glasses. [Hallie laughs.] Because, like— [Laughs.] Like, do I limit myself to only costume—like, only costumes with glasses. Or do I just, y’know, there were a couple of those like eighth grade, high school years where I know I just went blind to parties trying to pretend that I was, y’know, a vision without glasses. But I know I’ve shared it in the show before, but I will never forget—I was going—it was like a preschool kind of like maybe or kindergarten class. You wore your costumes. And I went as—I wanted to go as Darth Vader. [Hallie laughs.] And Mama took—I know. Whatever.

helen michelle

Things I have never said.

biz

That’s right. [Both laugh.] Everybody get out your list! Get out your punch card for things I say that my sister’s never said and vice-versa. Mama took—we could not find one and Mama took a skeleton mask. You know those plastic ones with the little elastic straps? Snap onto your face. Spray-painted it black and y’know put me in some sort of black cape and I went and everyone made fun of me and were like, “That’s just a skeleton suit you’ve painted black!” I remember just feeling like… [Hallie laughs.] —shit. But I am a stronger person for it now.

helen michelle

I have such a vivid memory of—y’know—

biz

Yeah! Do you remember anything of me being in anything?

helen michelle

[Sighs.] Well I remember going to one of your birthday parties. And it wasn’t a Halloween birthday party.

crosstalk

Biz: No, it was the doll party. Helen Michelle: I must’ve—

helen michelle

It—was it a doll party?

biz

Was it the doll party where I was dressed up—it was in the Parks & Recreation shed.

helen michelle

That’s exactly what it was!

biz

That you rent out. Yeah.

helen michelle

And again, just to show you the changing times, I had the flu. [Laughs.] But I still put on my full clown outfit—

biz

Oh yeah! Oh yeah! [Laughs.]

helen michelle

And fright wig. [Laughs.]

biz

‘Cause you were a clown doll!

helen michelle

I was a clown doll. [Biz laughs.] And I had—there’s this picture of me and I wish it could be unearthed in the parents’ basement—wherever it is—of me just sitting with my head in my hands because I had just thrown up. [Laughs.] In the back—y’know, the back of the party. [Biz laughs.] And I was so sick. Just waiting for someone to take me home ‘cause I didn’t want to ruin the party!

biz

You don’t want to ruin the party, Helen Michelle!

helen michelle

No! No!

crosstalk

Biz: I will make sure I post this on Instagram. But it—it—no! Helen Michelle: Oh, what is it? Is it me?

biz

It’s not you. It’s me.

helen michelle

Oh yes. That’s where I puked!

biz

That’s the doll party with the doll cake and Mama and her fabulous short hair. And all those other kids dressed like dolls.

helen michelle

Dolls. Which we would just call Toddler & Tiara pageant-wear now.

biz

Exactly. [Hallie laughs.] That is exactly right. Lotta lace. [Laughs.]

helen michelle

That’s why I imagine in my mind, like, if I’m ever to go to a Halloween party again, I would want to get a full spray-tan. [Laughs.] ‘Cause I am not the tannest of ladies. I’m basically the color of a peeled banana from top to bottom.

biz

That is true.

helen michelle

I’ve worked very hard at keeping it— [Laughs.]

biz

She is! [Laughs.] Yeah! Her skin is flawless! She’s just like this little—y’know. Yeah. Naked banana, I think, is a really good way to describe you.

helen michelle

Two little pink knots. [Biz laughs.] Anyway, so I would get a full spray-tan and then get a huge, blonde, like Shirley Temple wig. Bind my chest. Get, y’know, Mary Janes and go as a Toddler & Tiara and make my husband go as a pageant mom. [Laughs.]

biz

Oh! That would be—

helen michelle

That’s my fantasy. [Biz laughs.] We’ll say it’s a Halloween fantasy.

biz

That’s right. [Laughs.] [Hallie laughs.] It’s—somebody’s got a birthday coming up!

helen michelle

But I do think about the number of times that—especially now, where we’re so aware of being sick and not spreading germs. The number of Halloweens that I went out sick as a dog?

biz

Oh yeah. You went Trick-or-Treating when you were sick. There is absolutely 100%, yes. There is no way I did not go Trick-or-Treating sick. And there’s no way the folks didn’t let us still come home and eat that candy. I wanna talk about Trick-or-Treating and candy for a second. Trick-or-Treating—in our little neighborhood, we live at like the beginning of a—we lived, basically, it looked like a magnifying glass. We were on the—

helen michelle

Yes! A circle.

biz

—the end of the handle leading into the cul-de-sac. I guess—here’s some questions, ‘cause I don’t remember. When… A, I’ll wanna know your favorite memory or most vivid memory.

helen michelle

[Through laughter] I behaved… like a fraternity brother on spring break. As a 13-year-old girl. [Biz laughs.] The things I did to people’s houses! To people! Because there were no cell phones and what did we do before cell phones? We took rolls of toilet paper and we threw them into your trees and we took shaving cream and put it into your doorknobs and I once—

biz

Yes?

helen michelle

We’ll see if it makes it into the podcast. You drive around scooping up dog crap from people’s yards, and putting it into a—y’know, rubber trash can. You fill that with somebody’s hose with water so it’s just a big, like, bobbing for poop. Trash can. And then you lay it against somebody’s front door—

biz

[Yelling] No! Helen Michelle!

helen michelle

And then you ring the doorbell— [Biz laughs.] —and you run so when they open the door it is a river of feces. And that’s what we called a good time! [Laughs.] [Biz laughs.] Isn’t that terrible? [Laughs.] You have to make your own fun.

biz

Yeah. Guys. Everybody get out their notebooks, write those ideas down. Yeah. I don’t remember doing that.

helen michelle

Because we took the Trick-or-Treating very seriously. Y’know. It was… if you’re not gonna put candy out or be home, y’know, we are gonna look through the windows and see if you’re home. [Biz laughs.] If you’re not home, you are gonna get—Mary Jo and I would take a—what do you call it? Milky Way? No, no, no—a Three Musketeer bar. A Three Musketeer bar was better than a Milky Way. You take the little Milky Way, y’know—bite sizer—

biz

They weren’t little back then. They were still pretty big. [Laughs.]

helen michelle

They were. [Laughs.] They were full adult size.

biz

A fist full of candy. That’s right.

helen michelle

So you take that Milky Way. You bite off one end and then if you’re not answering the door, you take that Milky Way and you jam it into their doorbell so it just continues to ring! [Biz laughs.] And then you run.

biz

Alright. How much were the folks aware of any of this?

helen michelle

Um— [Laughs.] They probably were very aware. [Laughs.] [Biz laughs.]

biz

[Through laughter] I know!

helen michelle

‘Cause I was very proud of myself. [Both laugh.] And I mean, I was such a tame child! Y’know, like I—I didn’t—I rarely got in trouble, so, y’know. I never—never smoked weed or got drunk or, y’know, got pregnant. So what if she sticks a Mallomar in the doorknob? [Biz laughs.] One night a year. It was The Purge! It was 1984!

biz

That’s right. I would like to hear the Lee Steagall Trick-or-Treating yard story. Because that’s—

crosstalk

Biz: That shows you commitment. Helen Michelle: That is how you know that we are from the South.

helen michelle

In that we know everybody’s first and last name and use them with regularity. [Biz laughs.] So Lee Steagall, who very famously asked 32 girls to the prom. [Laughs.] [Biz laughs.] Until he got a yes. God bless him. He lived at the top of like a rolling hill.

biz

Oh, big hill.

helen michelle

Y’know, if you think of a Jell-o mold or a Bundt cake. So it’s like a level and a level of hill. So we had to climb that hill and that was my one year as a baby doll.

biz

You were a baby doll!

helen michelle

My baby doll. [Laughs.] Rocking that bowl haircut! And we go up there. My friend Mary Jo and I were always Trick-or-Treat together, and we go to the doorbell, get the candy and—again, you have to sort of make your own fun in life. So he dared us to slide down the hill. And we slid down the hill. And I slid a little faster because I slid through… lots of dog shit. [Laughs.] [Biz laughs.] But again—again, I remember Papa saying “What stinks?” As we were walking to another house. And then, “Oh.” And I just kept on trucking. Like, that’s not gonna stop me! I would just back away from the other doors. But we would often get driven to like the rich neighborhoods. Like, word would get out where the rich neighborhoods were or where people just like left a bowl of candy out. You leave a bowl of candy out, that’s gonna be like three visitors. You like get three visitors.

crosstalk

Helen Michelle: But nowadays—they’re gonna take it all. Biz: Because they’re gonna take it all. They’re gonna take it all.

helen michelle

Nowadays, from what I understand, parents like bring like a red solo cup with them because people who are home give out booze or snacks to the parents!

biz

Those are very specific neighborhoods. Those are—

helen michelle

[Inaudible.]

biz

Or apartment buildings. That is not our neighborhood.

crosstalk

Biz: But that would be a good time. Helen Michelle: No, and let me tell you—

helen michelle

As the saddest thing—as my husband says, the saddest thing. I moved into—when I married my husband, I moved in. It’s been 20 years in this building. We live in a Pre-War building on the Upper East Side and the average age here is like 87. [Laughs.] [Biz laughs.] At the moment there are 13 apartments occupied out of 85. So—but my first Halloween here, I’m all excited. And I have a ghost on the door. And I’ve ordered like… retro candy from Oriental Traders. So I’ve got blood bags and eyeballs and, y’know, Fun Dip and all that stuff. Not one Trick-or-Treater. We never get Trick-or-Treaters ‘cause there’s no children in this building! And so—and Lex says he’s never seen me sadder. [Biz laughs.] Waiting for the Trick-or-Treaters. Nothing. So I’m curious to see how it will go this year with the Trick-or-Treating.

biz

We don’t know. On our street—‘cause we’ve got—there are a lot of kids on our street! A lot of littles. I call them ‘littles’ ‘cause they’re all like five and under. So we are doing a parade. Costume parade. I have spoken to— [Laughs.] Thanks to the pandemic, we all know our neighbors now because everybody’s out walking! And you’re just sitting outside! And so there’s a parent at the far end of the street; a parent in the middle of the street; and I am at the other end of the street. And so—

helen michelle

The leading end.

biz

That’s right. The—there—we’re going to do a little parade for all the kids. A little costume parade. And that’s very socially distanced. And then, y’know, some people are gonna Trick-or-Treat and some are not. We clearly—I started the show by saying I have bought way too much candy.

helen michelle

Good!

biz

It was a deal. You get one, you get 25% off the other! So I should get four, because are the—

helen michelle

Let me just tell you. I have to interrupt to say—again—I’m just gonna consider this a part-time confessional. And how I used to torture you. My little sister. Because we would go Trick-or-Treating—

biz

Which story will this be? Which story?

helen michelle

Which story will it be? [Biz laughs.] So I would torture you because I could—in addition to like at Christmastime, the torture was—opening my presents than a slower rate than yours so that you would’ve opened all your presents and then I would still have three presents left and it would look like I had more presents, but I did not. [Biz laughs.] So with the Halloween candy, I could make that Halloween candy last until St. Patrick’s Day. And I would torture you.

crosstalk

Helen Michelle: “Oh, I want a Smartie!” Biz: It all goes back—

biz

It all goes back to the donut. Helen Michelle, we would—we had—we both got donuts. And I ate my donut right away. ‘Cause I like to live in the moment! You took one bite out of your jelly donut and then—‘cause we were watching TV or something. Laying on the floor. On the—

helen michelle

As one does.

biz

Yeah. And you just placed it like on your chest and you were like, “Ohhh, I’m so glad I still have this donut.” [Hallie laughs.] “Ooo, it’s soooo gooood! Mmmm!”

helen michelle

“What is this, strawberry? Is this—no, it’s grape!"

biz

“It’s so yummy! I’m just gonna take a little bite, Elizabeth.” [Hallie laughs.] The whole time!

helen michelle

Yes.

biz

Anyway.

helen michelle

If we took that marshmallow test, I could wait like seven days to get a bag of marshmallows. You would eat that marshmallow right away.

biz

Oh, I would eat that marshmallow right away. The kids, we told our kids about the marshmallow test and they’re like, “Oh, is there a chance for marshmallows? Give us that test!” We were like, “No.” Alright. Food. Treats. Candy.

helen michelle

What is your—what was your favorite candy? Favorite and least favorite.

biz

Oh, I fucking hated the people who gave us the wax Coca-Colas. The little wax Coca-Colas. Or the wax teeth. There was always somebody who gave us the, like, wax teeth. And I was like, “Am I supposed to eat this?” Uh, the answer’s no. Don’t eat it. It’s not—

helen michelle

What were those little, like, I guess it was taffy. And it came in either a black wrapper or an orange wrapper.

biz

Oh, those were like—those were like the hard candies that y’all grandma might have out in a bowl.

helen michelle

They were chewie! Not a Werther’s Original.

biz

Yeah! They were like… they were flavored, but like a nut flavor chew. Like a nut chew.

helen michelle

I am sure they are outlawed now because of peanut allergies.

biz

Yeah. They were no good. I really liked this, y’know, the ‘80s there was just a boom of new types of candy. And now for the life of me I cannot remember what it was called but it have—it was like—it wasn’t gum, but it was chewie. And on the outside it was one color and on the inside it was another color. And I used to have this memorized and now I cannot. So I’ll just say—Reese’s—no, what was it? Whatchamacallit. Oh! No! I lied! I lie. Ten—because I’ve blocked out not being able to eat caramel for all these years? My favorite.

helen michelle

Yes. A hundred thousand dollar bar.

biz

That’s right—yes. The ten thousand grand. The grand! Those…

helen michelle

Yes.

biz

Were so good.

helen michelle

Yes.

biz

I loved those. Those were my favorite. How about you?

helen michelle

If you put one in—and if you put one in a punch bowl, it would look like you pooped in the punch bowl!

biz

You could put that in your garbage can and tip it.

helen michelle

Every time someone says “pooped,” we—you have to drink. [Both laugh.] I like a Smartie.

biz

You—see? Something I’ll never say out loud. [Laughs.] [Hallie laughs.] I’ll never say—

helen michelle

Same with gentlemen! I like the smarties. [Laughs.] [Biz laughs.]

biz

I—alright. We’re gonna wrap up on your birthday. Because—this could explain so much about—but I have questions about this, too. You have a… Halloween birthday. I mean, your birthday’s not on Halloween, but it’s two days before Halloween. Do you—couple of questions before we get into the story that you have never shared on the show. [Hallie laughs.] But did you—

helen michelle

Brace yourselves

biz

—always have Halloween birthdays?

helen michelle

Yes. Always had Halloween birthday parties because—and it was the greatest, because the 29th is my birthday and—so that was exciting. And then like the 30th was always the school—what do you call it? Carnival? Halloween Carnival?

biz

Yeah. No one has those anymore, I don’t feel like.

crosstalk

Biz: We used to go—yeah. Have cake walk and—yeah. Loved it. Helen Michelle: Yes! Yes, oh my god, is this like a—

helen michelle

Is this science class, or what is that? I’m gonna put my hand—goodness, what’s in this bag? Peeled grapes! [Biz laughs.] What’s in this bag? Wet spaghetti!

biz

Eyeballs! That’s right! This one’s just full of peanuts. [Laughs.]

helen michelle

Oh, yeah! And—put your head in this bucket of apples that everyone else has put their head in. Alright.

biz

Just drink that water down. That’s right.

helen michelle

That’s right. It’s a water park for your mouth! [Laughs.] [Biz laughs.] [Through laughter] There’s a party in my mouth and everyone’s invited! [Laughs.] And then the 31st was Halloween! So it was a great, y’know, a great end of the month. So yeah. So I always had Halloween parties so it was like the detective theme party. I don’t know. I guess there were other themes. That’s the one I remember the most. Oh my god! And then there was one—like, when I was 16 or 17.

crosstalk

Helen Michelle: Just to show you—never. It was Sweet Sixteen! Biz: You’re too old to have a birthday party! I’m just kidding.

helen michelle

It was Sweet Sixteen. This is what I did for my Sweet Sixteen. For my Sweet Sixteen, I didn’t think I was doing anything and unbeknownst to me, my parents rented a white, unmarked van— [Laughs.]

biz

Let’s go back to the ‘80s, guys!

helen michelle

Let’s go back to the ‘80s! 1987! And drove around picking up six of my—quote-unquote “kidnapping”—six of my best friends. [Laughs.] Putting them into this serial-killer-like van, and then coming to pick me up to go to have Chinese food at the one Chinese restaurant that was closed because they’d been serving us rats. And let me tell you—they were delicious. Sweet’n’sour rats were delicious. [Biz laughs.] And we’d go there and then we all went off to this like haunted house—Hell house or—yeah.

biz

Oh, a Hell house. Was it a Hell house?

helen michelle

Well, we never got in. ‘Cause somebody didn’t make reservations. [Laughs.] [Biz laughs.] You gotta make reservations for the Hell house. I never actually went to a Hell house. ‘Cause the Hell house is religious.

crosstalk

Biz: Yeah. Yeah. ‘Cause the people—if you don’t know— Helen Michelle: As opposed to a haunted house.

biz

There are haunted houses and then there are “Hell houses.” And Hell houses are completely religious themed. Like—

crosstalk

Biz: —if you’re walking—yeah! Helen Michelle: The abortion room.

biz

There’s always an abortion room. There’s always like—

helen michelle

The rave room.

biz

The rave room! That’s right. With drugs and then, y’know—

helen michelle

I hate to say—

biz

I know! But yes. We all know the things. We can all—let’s all just sit down and use our imaginations. As to what may be in the Hell house.

helen michelle

Frowned upon.

biz

Yes. Frowned upon in a Hell house.

helen michelle

By Jesus. Yeah.

biz

And then when you come out, they—

helen michelle

They recruit you!

biz

Yeah. They recruit you!

helen michelle

They do!

biz

That’s right. They do! I know. No, I know. You get your—yes.

helen michelle

As opposed to a haunted house, which is like— [Laughs.] Y’know, just people are grabbing you.

biz

Touching you. Just touching. Haunted houses. Your birthday. We’ve never shared this story. If, though, you are a reader of my sister’s books, then you are already aware of this story. It is my sister’s—god knows. Maybe I’m so old. Maybe we have told this story. We’ve been doing this show so long.

helen michelle

I don’t think so!

biz

I don’t think we have.

helen michelle

Mm-mm.

biz

I think everybody—it—this story… when Theresa read it in your book, she said, “Oh.” She was like, “Oh.”

helen michelle

“Now I understand everything.”

biz

“Now I understand everything, like, in terms of why you think some things are very funny and I think we should cut it from the show.” So— [Hallie laughs.] Alright. You’ve already shared that our parents thought it was fun to rent a white van and kidnap your friends and, y’know, take you guys around. Please share with us… your… birthday story. Is this 15? It’s 15, right?

helen michelle

13!

biz

13!

helen michelle

13

biz

Let’s be clear.

helen michelle

So. [Clears throat; laughs.] It’s my 13th birthday party, and it’s gonna be a costume party! And I, of course, am making my own costume so me and my friend Nicky Buckley get a Police—y’know, our Police Roxanne, y’know, t-shirts. Put some safety pins in it. Some tights. And put some lipstick on ‘cause we’re punk rockers with like a side pony.

biz

Let’s be clear—Police, the band. [Laughs.]

helen michelle

Yeah. That’s correct. That’s correct. Um— [Laughs.] So—and it’s a bunch of 13-year-olds. And again, where you had your doll party, I had this Halloween party. And this is 1982, 1983. So we go out to a cabin in the woods. [Laughs.]

biz

Yeah. Basically what it is.

helen michelle

Nobody else’s parents are at this. They just drop them at this cabin in the woods. There is nothing for miles. You have to run for miles to find civilization or a Taco Casa. [Biz laughs.] And my mother—our mother is in law school at the time. Y’know. And she went to law school at 40 so she’s in law school and she has brought another law student. A young, probably 24-year-old woman to help out with the party. So it’s my father, my mother, and this law student. And everybody’s arriving at this party. There was, of course, the young woman with the snake wrapped around her body and somebody was Zorro and my friend Elizabeth Ponder came as Death. With— [Biz laughs.] With like the full cape and the Reynolds Wrap sickle.

biz

Nice.

helen michelle

Y’know. Somebody wore a boa and was a prostitute. [Biz laughs.] A lady of the night. I mean, this is—again, this is the ‘80s. And we are all just like hanging out and whatever, and then we sit down to have pizza. And watch a movie.

crosstalk

Biz: Cat People! Helen Michelle: And the movie is—

helen michelle

The Black Cat.

biz

Oh, it’s The Black Cat, not Cat People. Sorry.

helen michelle

Oh, wait, no, no! You’re right!

crosstalk

Helen Michelle: Cat People. Cat People. It was the—yeah. Natassja Kinski’s Cat People. Biz: It was Cat People. Cat People.

helen michelle

And we made—and all the lights go off in this cabin and there is no way out of this cabin. There’s one way in and one way out and it’s a circle in the middle of the woods. Just, like, maybe one window and we’re all sitting at cafeteria-style tables with our pizza watching the tiniest, y’know, television. Where [inaudible] you can like plug it into the wall and we’re all leaning forward and watching this and we probably make it into it 10 minutes. And we start to hear… a kerfuffle. We hear… a fight. Or an argument. Tones. Tones! And you were not at this party. Where were you?

biz

I had just left. I had gone to go roller skating with Joanna Weaver. [Laughs.] [Hallie laughs.]

helen michelle

So off she goes and we look over at the corner of the door and I see my father talking to a man. And it’s a young man. Like, I remember he was bearded in like a plaid shirt with a trucker’s hat. And he is… mad! And my friend Laura Monday, who had come dressed as Coco from Fame in leg warmers— [Laughs.]

biz

Nice! [Laughs.]

helen michelle

Just reaches over and turns off the TV. [Both laugh.] And we’re all, y’know, just watching.

biz

Everybody just turns! Right.

helen michelle

And we start to suss it out that this is… the boyfriend of the law student. And he is holding a wallet in his hand. And it is not his wallet. And he says—he starts to yell at this young woman, “I found this under our bed. Who the hell’s wallet is this?” And she’s saying, y’know, “I [inaudible].”

biz

“Look at this children’s party!”

helen michelle

Yeah. And y’know, it’s this—and we’re all like—but all of us are like, “This is better than General Hospital!” [Biz laughs.] But it is starting to get a little scary ‘cause it’s a stranger in a closed environment yelling. And… he is saying—

biz

At Papa!

helen michelle

At my father. At this woman. And… the lights are out. And… he pulls out a gun.

biz

Oh my god.

helen michelle

A for real— [Biz laughs.] —we all know what a gun looks like. We were all raised with guns. He pulls out a gun and he says something like, y’know, “If I can’t have you, nobody can.” And he is brandishing this gun. And my friends are freaking the fuck out. Going under the table because I come from a public school in Alabama and I’ve seen a gun pulled at school. [Biz laughs.] And what you do is you get under the table. You don’t run. You get under the table. You go under the table. People are hysterical crying. This gunman is like, waving this gun. My mother—I will never forget—puts her hands on her hips and she says, “You are ruining my daughter’s party!” [Both laugh.] Y’know, and my father’s like, “Let’s just take it outside.” And my father’s younger than we are now! He’s 43! And he’s saying, “Let’s just take it outside. Let’s just take it outside.” And it’s a glass door! Y’know. And so my—they go outside and my mother and this law student are watching what we cannot see through this glass door. And… the gun is fired. And my mother screams bloody murder. We are all screaming ‘cause he has clearly killed our father.

biz

Yeah. Papa’s dead.

helen michelle

Everybody is hysterical. My mother—Mama is trying to remain calm. The law student is sobbing. And then all of a sudden my father just bounced at the door with this man, saying, “Okay!” Y’know. “Happy Halloween! Who’s gonna remember—we’re gonna play a game! Who can remember the most about this incident?” And Mama just starts handing out legal pads and pencils. [Biz laughs.] And we play this game of like, “What was he wearing? What kind of gun was it?” Y’know. “What did he say?” [Laughs.] And they were two actors that my father had paid $25 apiece from the University of Alabama to come and it was one of his real guns. And it was—but it was blanks, as Papa told me later, ‘cause, y’know, real guns might’ve been dangerous. [Biz laughs.] So real blanks that he had fired out the window. And this is 1982. My parents never received a phone call about this.

biz

Never.

helen michelle

There was no video of this. There was… y’know, nobody went to therapy for this.

biz

Therapy for this! Not even you! For this. [Laughs.]

helen michelle

Nope! I mean, I made good money off of this 35 years later. [Laughs.]

biz

That’s right.

helen michelle

And people still remember it to this day. Like when I was in Athens, Georgia, on book tour last year, I read that story out loud and my parents were in the room and four women who were at that party were in the room. So I made them all like stand up and say, “Yes,” y’know, “This happened.” And then I said, “Anybody—you can ask them questions. You can ask me questions.” And an audience member asked my father, “Why would you do that?!” [Through laughter] And his response was, “Well you gotta make your own fun in life!” [Both laugh.]

biz

And… I think we have proven that we have taken that to heart our whole lives. [Laughs.]

helen michelle

Yes.

biz

I… love that story. And because it just could not happen today. Ever. Not even. Not even a little. Helen? Michelle? Thank you for coming on the show—

crosstalk

Biz: —to talk about Halloween! Helen Michelle: Thank you, Elizabeth!

helen michelle

Thank you for validating my life choices! [Laughs.]

biz

Well, you’re still here. As Papa would say, “You’re still here. So must’a worked out.” [Laughs.]

helen michelle

Yup. [Laughs.]

biz

“You guys turned out alright. I don’t wanna know about it. I don’t’ wanna know about it. I don’t—don’t tell me. I don’t wanna know.” [Hallie laughs.] Well thank you and have a happy birthday! And happy Halloween. And we’ll have you back on when your new book comes out this summerrrr.

helen michelle

Summer ’21!

biz

Summer ’21! [Hallie laughs.] If we can make it to ’21! Summer ’21!

helen michelle

And then you can hear—in that book I have my sister’s haggling skills.

biz

Yayyyy!

helen michelle

Can hear all about Elizabeth’s haggling skills. She has never paid full price for a Christmas tree.

biz

That’s right. Gotta make your own fun in life.

helen michelle

That’s right!

biz

Thank you Helennnnn,

helen michelle

Thank you, Elizabethhhh!

biz

Bye-byeeeee!

music

“Ones and Zeroes” by “Awesome.” Steady, driving electric guitar with drum and woodwinds. [Music fades out.]

music

Laid-back acoustic guitar plays in background.

theresa

One Bad Mother is supported in part by Curiosity Stream. It’s like Netflix for documentaries. Smart TV for your smart TV! [Biz laughs.]

biz

Let’s get smart! Curiosity Stream is a streaming service that has thousands of documentaries and non-fiction TV shows on topics like history, nature, science, food, technology, travel, and more! They even have exclusive programs featuring David Attenborough, Stephen Hawking, Nick Offerman, and Chris Hadfield. How fun! I could watch… David Attenborough talk allll day long. [Theresa laughs.] You can easily stream everything from your TV, phone, tablet, or computer.

theresa

Go to CuriosityStream.com/badmother or use code “badmother”—all one word—to sign up. Just $14.99 for the whole year! [Music fades out.]

theresa

Hey, you know what it’s time for! This week’s genius and fails! This is the part of the show where we share our genius moment of the week, as well as our failures, and feel better about ourselves by hearing yours. You can share some of your own by calling 206-350-9485. That’s 206-350-9485.

biz

[Singing] Genius fail time! Da-da daaa! Theresa! Theresaaaa! [Regular voice] It’s because you’re back with me even just for these brief moments on the ship sailing the pandemic life that I’m like— [Laughs.] I feel like I have to sing you in. So—but it’s just—it’s a new change. [Singing] Theresaaa! Theresaaa! [Laughs.] [Theresa laughs.]

theresa

It feels so right.

biz

It does, doesn’t it? So maybe this will be it.

theresa

Did you do that the last couple weeks? ‘Cause I feel like—

crosstalk

Biz: Yeah! I think I’ve been kind of singing— Theresa: I don’t think I noticed—

theresa

Like I don’t think I noticed ‘cause it just feels like—

crosstalk

Theresa: That is what we do. Yeah. It feels normal. Yeah. Yeah. Biz: So normal. So right. It just feels so right.

biz

[Singing] Theresa! Theresaaaa! It’s time to genius me!

clip

[Dramatic, swelling music in background.] Biz: Wow! Oh my God! Oh my God! I saw what you did! Oh my God! I’m paying attention! Wow! You, mom, are a genius. Oh my God, that’s fucking genius! [Biz and Theresa repeatedly affirm each other as they discuss their respective genius moments of the week.]

theresa

[Biz laughs.] Okay. Again, the bar is low. But! My… oldest child, my nine-year-old, is now at the age where she’s enjoying watching Simpsons reruns with me?

biz

So good.

theresa

And we’ve even been able to watch some of the—I forget what they call the Halloween specials that they like did every year that are so good? So we’ve been getting into the Halloween spirit watching some of those. And… it’s just—it’s so—like, it’s just one of those things where… it feels great to me to do this activity. [Biz laughs.] And it’s so nice that I can do that now with her.

biz

That is a genius. This is—there—Theresa, I don’t want to, like… y’know. Screw it up. But, it does get good. There are some moments that get good like this. So I’m so glad—

theresa

Yeah. I’m definitely still at the stage where it’s shocking to me.

biz

Yeah. No. I—you deserve this moment!

theresa

That something is so nice. And easy. [Laughs.]

biz

You’ve worked so hard for this!

theresa

Something came easily?! [Biz laughs.]

biz

And it’s enjoyable! It’s enjoyable. “Tree House of Terror.” That’s what they’re called. Yes!

theresa

Thank you. Yes.

biz

You are welcome! I… speaking of low bars— [Laughs.] I went on a walk four days in a row. [Laughs.] [Theresa laughs.] Guys? Hey—

theresa

I mean, that’s a big deal. I can’t say that. So.

biz

No. I couldn’t say it a week ago.

theresa

It’s a big deal. Yes. It’s a really, really big deal.

biz

I’m not like resentful that Stefan walks every single day at the crack of dawn. I’m not resentful of the consistency.

theresa

Oh, I can hear how not-resentful you are. [Laughs.] [Biz laughs.]

biz

But I’m just gonna walk it off! So I’m walking. And as soon as the weather changes in California and it’s a hundred fucking degrees again in November, I’ll stop! So.

theresa

Great. Perfect.

biz

Yep! There ya go.

caller

[Answering machine beeps.] Hi, One Bad Mother! This is a genius. Like so many other parents, I walk around most of the time wanting to scream. And the other day it was that tough time between dinner and bedtime and my toddlers were literally just running around screaming. And screaming. And so I joined them. We had a Wild Thing rumpus with all of us running around and screaming and waving our arms around and it was so cathartic. [Biz laughs.] Do I still want to run away to a silent meditation retreat in the woods? Oh, yes. Yes, I do. But it certainly took the edge off. And we are all doing a great job. Thanks! Bye.

biz

Good job!

theresa

That’s good. That’s really good. It’s really good when you can like authentically… blow off steam. [Biz laughs.] In front of your kids in a way that is non-traumatizing. [Biz laughs.] For them. [Laughs.] Like, that’s—it takes like finesse.

biz

I agree. [Theresa laughs.] It does. You gotta finesse that screaming. With your children. Yeah. I’m… very impressed. I think this ties into last week’s episode—or just supports our theory from last week that yes! We are all still screaming. And it’s okay. You are doing… a wonderful job!

theresa

Yeah, you are!

biz

Failures.

clip

[Dramatic orchestral music plays in the background.] Theresa: [In a voice akin to the Wicked Witch of the West] Fail. Fail. Fail. FAIL! [Timpani with foot pedal engaged for humorous effect.] Biz: [Calmly] You suck! [Biz and Theresa repeatedly affirm each other as they discuss their respective failures of the week.]

biz

Fail me, Theresa.

theresa

Okay. [Sighs.] I just—I made a really, really stupid purchase.

biz

Oh.

theresa

It was time for like some new bath toys for Frankie and Oscar and they’ve been like… they’ve been into pirates again lately? Whatever. They really wanted like a boat for the bath and I just… I should’ve spent more time searching? But I was just like… pirates. Bath. Y’know. And I just looked at it and I was like—

biz

Beep, bop, boop.

theresa

Okay, yeah. Boop. And— [Laughs.] And then—so then they came and—well, a couple things. First of all, right away I noticed a lot of these pirates are holding guns. Like, big guns!

biz

Yeah. Oh yeah. Pirates—

theresa

Which totally like breaks a rule in our house to have toys with guns.

biz

Yeah. I remember that rule. [Laughs.]

theresa

Yeah! And then the other thing was—these are not bath toys! Like… they’re—it’s like a— [Laughs.] it’s like a bucket of pirates including like pirate ship, but it’s not for the bath and like one piece of it has like… is like electronic in some way? And you can’t—but it’s a shark? And so you’re like, “Does this go in the bath? But it seems electronic? Like, probably it doesn’t go in the bath?” But then there’s no other electronic stuff but then the boats—we brought them in the bath ‘cause I was like, “Well, this is what they were for.”

crosstalk

Biz: They’re bath toys now! Theresa: Not the electric one.

theresa

But they’re bath toys now! We brought them in the bath but like the ship—-the boats just like have holes in them and just like sink instantly. I mean, like, instantly. Like they’re just totally not bath toys! So yeah. I just—

biz

They’re not even good pirates! If they’re sinking. If they’re sinking, they’re not even very good pirates.

crosstalk

Theresa: No. It’s just—yeah. Biz: The real question is…

biz

Why would you make pirate toys that aren’t meant to go in water? [Laughs.]

theresa

That was my question. Thank you. Thank you for having my back with this. [Laughs.]

biz

You’re right. They’re not space pirates. They’re not mountain pirates. Pirates… are on the ocean!

theresa

Yeah!

biz

Yeah!

theresa

That’s the whole thing!

biz

Yeah! You’re doing a horrible job. Just—

theresa

Oh, I know.

biz

—purchasing the first pirate thing you come—isn’t that like in the What to Expect When You’re Expecting book? Don’t just buy random pirate toys?

theresa

Yeah. I think so.

biz

Well, enjoy those guns.

theresa

Yep! [Both laugh.]

biz

I… you guys… know I enjoy crafting and making things and, y’know, when my children say “I would like a thing” I like making a thing. Though recently we’ve discovered that may be changing. Theresa and I may be doing a Freaky Friday where she has started enjoying things. Like making them. Not just things, but. [Laughs.] Making them. And I no longer want to. But! The point is, my children have asked for ridiculous costumes. That I said—sure. And I do think—I might have even mentioned this on a show that I got ahead of the game and I got the stuff for the costumes, like, in advance.

theresa

Wow.

biz

The fail is that… they are hard—this is like—Katy Belle’s is technically cosplay. Okay? And I did not get the right materials ‘cause they were not available at the Joann’s and I wasn’t making multiple trips around. So I’m just making it work. But it’s—I’m building boots right now. [Theresa laughs.] And like… everybody wants them like a week early ‘cause everybody’s gotta fucking Zoom their costumes a week early for different events and there ya go! Happy… Halloween. Like, 40 hours’ worth of work on something that will eventually be shoved under their bed. So…

theresa

Ugh.

biz

And guess what?

theresa

That—

biz

Guess what? Guess what? Ask me what I’m gonna be.

theresa

What? What are you gonna be?

crosstalk

Theresa: Wait, no, no, no! No. No. No. Biz: I’m gonna be a mother—oh. I am!

biz

I’m gonna be a motherfucking witch.

theresa

You are not!

biz

I’m gonna be a witch! Yeah. Oh yeah.

theresa

[Sighs.] I mean…

biz

I know!

theresa

It—actually, it makes sense. [Biz laughs.]

biz

This is why moms have been witches since the beginning of witches! This may be— [Laughs.] [Theresa laughs.] This may be why women have been witches since the beginning of witches. Anyway. There you go. Ta-da. The real fail—I’m gonna be a fucking witch. Anyway.

theresa

Ugh. Ugh.

biz

Yeah.

theresa

You suck.

biz

I do suck.

caller

[Answering machine beeps.] Hi! I’m calling with the dumbest fail. I feel like this is such a basic human failure. My fail was giving my child a strawberry milk in an open cup? While he was tantruming? On the only rug in the house. He’s two. Which meant that when I handed it to him with medicine secretly mixed into it, thinking I was being a genius by giving him secret medicine so that he would stop crying because he’s teething, instead of that being successful? He just… threw it across the rug. The thing is—what’s more of a failure I think was “Don’t cry over spilled milk” which is stupid because it’s not about the spilled milk. It’s not like the rotten milk smell that’s gonna be in my rug if I don’t clean it properly and the fact my kid didn’t get his medicine and like just all the failures, you know? Anyway. I suck.

crosstalk

Theresa: Sounds like plenty of stuff to cry over. Biz: You do.

biz

Yeah. Mmmm. Sounds like somebody’s enjoying a big, tall glass of strawberry suck! [Laughs.]

theresa

Mm-hm. Mm-hm. Yeah. I feel like that choice to serve that in an open cup in that moment—like, none of us are thinking clearly in that moment when you’re being tantrumed at? And I’ve seen myself do that so many times where I’m like, “Today for right now, this will be okay—” Like, just not thinking clearly at all!

biz

And the smell… will be like a ghost that haunts you the rest of your life. [Theresa laughs.] Reminding you that you’re doing a terrible job.

music

“Mom Song” by Adira Amram. Mellow piano music with lyrics. You are the greatest mom I’ve ever known. I love you, I love you. When I have a problem, I call you on the phone. I love you, I love you. [Music fades out.]

music

Cheerful ukulele with whistling plays in background.

biz

One Bad Mother is supported in part by Care.com.

theresa

Care.com is a platform for finding all kinds of family care services. Including childcare, senior care, house care, pet care, tutoring, and more. They have a large selection of local caregivers. Biz and I both have premium memberships and I was so impressed with all I had to do was just type in my zip code and I found that there were just dozens of potential caregivers really close by. So they provide the tools to access background check options; read reviews about people; see qualifications and certifications; and reach out to potential caregivers.

biz

To save 30% off a care.com premium membership, visit Care.com/badmother or use promo code “bad mother.” [Music fades.]

promo

Music: Dramatic, movie trailer–esque music. [The hosts use very "announcer" voices in this promo.] Mark Gagliardi: We interrupt the podcast you're listening to to tell you about another podcast! That's right: We Got This with Mark and Hal. Hal Lublin: That's correct, Mark! This is Hal. We do the hard work for you! Settling all of the meaningless arguments you have with your friends. Mark: So tune in every week on the Maximum Fun network for We Got This with Mark and Hal, and all your questions will be asked... and answered. Hal: You're welcome! [Music reaches an apex and quiets down.] Mark: Alright. That's enough of that. Chorus: [Singing] We Got This!

promo

Music: Jazzy brass music plays in background. Annabelle Gurwitch: Hi. Are you someone who thinks that when one door closes, another one opens? Laura House: Someone who always sees the light at the end of the tunnel? Annabelle: If you answered yes to one or both of these questions, good for you! Laura: We are not those people. Annabelle: Nope! I’m Annabelle Gurwitch, and I’m a “Y’know that other door opening? It probably leads to a broom closet” kind of person. Laura: And I’m Laura House. When I see a light at the end of a tunnel, I assume it’s a train headed right toward me! Annabelle: Laura and I have created a brand-new podcast for people like us! It’s called Tiny Victories. We’re sharing personal tiny victories or things we’ve read or seen that inspire resilience. Laura: So if you’re looking for a tiny reason to get out of bed each week, subscribe to Tiny Victories. Annabelle: Available on Maximum Fun or wherever you get your podcasts! Laura: Let’s get tiny!

biz

Guys? We’re back. And Theresa’s back with me! For the rant part of our show. And there is just nothing more enjoyable than snuggling up virtually with Theresa— [Theresa laughs.] —and listening to a mom have a breakdown.

caller

[Answering machine beeps.] Hello. This one probably fits more in the rant, although it feels like a fail. I don’t know what to do with this home… distance learning. My son already has so much anxiety about being seen. About not being good enough. He’s only five. And he doesn’t know what school looks like. And so we’re trying to do these Zooms in different ways. Spread ‘em out. Put ‘em all together. And this morning I can’t even get him dressed. [Laughs.] ‘Cause he does that to keep from getting on a Zoom. [Chuckles.] So then we do it without the video. He’s just so… smart. He can get all the answers. But he’s so afraid of saying it out loud and then now that I made him do that he’s throwing everything at me. Ugh. [Laughs.] iPads and lotion that’s sprayed all over the freaking ceiling and turning over couches. I’m just so tired. Its like I could’ve made—I made it through preschool by just getting him ready and getting him out the door and there. [Laughs.] Now I have to do that getting him ready over and over and over again for every lesson and every Zoom. I’m exhausted! [Laughs.] And I’m emotionally drained. [Laughs.] And so is he. Because he also has to go through that. And I recognize that. Ugh! I’m just tired. Thank god it’s asynchronous learning so I can at least try to do it when he’s in the right mindset. D’oh. [Sighs.] Thank you for listening. You guys are doing awesome. Bye.

biz

You are doing… awesome. You are doing… an amazing job. And you are… not alone.

theresa

No. In fact, I am literally right there with you. I mean, I guess not literally. That’s the wrong use of that word. [Biz laughs.] I am—I—

biz

Surprise! Theresa’s behind you!

theresa

Yeah. [Laughs.] [Biz laughs.] We have the same life. I am so with you and I almost—I almost can’t think of anything to add to what you said. Because you said everything so beautifully and your compassion for what your child is going through right now? Is really, really beautiful to hear and see. And that almost makes it harder. Because you’re carrying all of that for your child and you are suffering through this thing. Which is not a fit. It’s not a fit. It is a fit for a few people. It is not a fit for a lot of other people. And so all of us who it’s not a fit for— [Laughs.] [Biz laughs.] —are left trying to figure it out and every day is trying to figure it out again. And like you said, every time. Get ready for every lesson. Get ready—how many times a day. And it’s… it feels really impossible sometimes and yet we just keep trying. Like, there’s—I guess we’ll just keep trying! So I’m right there with you. I’m trying with you. It’s so hard. It’s so hard. You’re doing such a good job.

biz

It’s the like—okay, well what am I supposed to do? And so… when you have… very bad choices, the choice seems to be to just like, “Alright. We’re just gonna do this. The hard, horrible, like, exhausting thing. Every day.” Y’know? [Laughs.] That’s—that’s no fun to go to sleep thinking about. It’s no fun to wake up at two o’clock in the morning thinking about. And it’s no fun to have to get up and do the next morning.

theresa

And it’s no fun to like… [Laughs.] [Biz laughs.] Like I feel like what I loved about this call was, you so correctly point out, like, “We’re trying,” y’know, “How much we do. Or which ones should we do. Or when should we do it.” And like I’ve been doing that too! And the thing that I’ve realized is it doesn’t matter how little we do. Even if we get—do less and less every single day; we do less and less and less, that doesn’t fix it. It’s not that like a small amount is fine. [Biz laughs.] It’s like, no. None of it works. None of it is working. Doesn’t matter if you do it at 8AM or at four o’clock in the afternoon. It still doesn’t work. [Laughs.] Like— [Laughs.]

biz

Just keep whittling away ‘til there’s literally nothing. There’s no school. And I just—again—wanna emphasize how not alone you are in this. I have… a friend. She just pulled her sixth grader to home school and she don’t wanna do that. But the other fit was way worse! Right? And like, y’know, the anxiety that you see with kids who a year ago were running around the playground with no fear? Now… thinking everybody isn’t gonna wanna listen to them or they don’t wanna answer. They don’t wanna raise their hand. Y’know, this is happening everywhere to some degree. And it comes out in weird ways. And we think everybody’s like, there’s nothing worse than that day where you’re like, ‘Everything’s great!” And then it’s just like a sore. It just festers and it seeps out and it catches us off guard and it probably smells like strawberry milk and… [Theresa laughs.] I just—you are—yeah. And I’m sorry. One last thing, and that is what Theresa pointed out. And that was the compassion and empathy that you are showing for your child. That really… to step aside and be a selfish adult for a second, that’s a lot to carry. And I don’t think we give ourselves credit? For the emotional toll that takes on us. Because we are told that’s supposed to come so naturally and that just— ugh! And just give! Right? And it—sometimes it doesn’t, and even if it does! It’s still a lot! To manage! You’re remarkable.

theresa

You are.

biz

You’re remarkable! Yeah.

theresa

Yes. Good job.

biz

Good job! Theresa? You’re doing a good job.

theresa

Thanks, Biz. So are you.

biz

[Singing] I’m… always so excited to see you!

theresa

I’m excited to see you, too. I’m excited to meet our new producer, Gabe.

biz

Yep. Yayyy!

theresa

Doing a great job, Gabe.

biz

I just… see you? I’m witnessing you. [Theresa laughs.] I am excited to make Oscar their birthday cake!

theresa

Oh my god.

biz

I know. I know.

theresa

I am really, really impressed that you remembered that.

crosstalk

Biz: I remembered, but I’m a little panicked—I’m a little panicky ‘cause I’m like, “What’s the date?” Theresa: I was gonna text you later and be like, “Is this still okay?”

theresa

Sunday.

biz

Oh. Done. I can have a cake done by Sunday. Done! [Theresa laughs.] Alright. Uh, Theresa, you’re doing a good job.

theresa

Thank you, Biz.

biz

Goodbye.

theresa

Bye. [Both laugh.]

biz

Oh, [singing] I love Theresa! And I love my sister. And now I love Gabe. Whewww! [Regular voice] Guys, this was an exciting show. This was the kind of motivational show that makes you just wanna lie on your couch and eat Halloween candy. And I hope everybody goes out and over-buys. What did we learn today? Well— [Laughs.] We learned it’s better to not know what your kids are doing on Halloween. It’s also— [Laughs.] Better that we are evolving socially in our country. [Laughs.] When it comes to no longer culturally appropriating Halloween costumes. That is actually really good. [Laughs.] What else did we learn? Oh. You know what I was thinking about this with not only our woo-er at the beginning and our ranter at the end, but I had this—I had this moment myself this week. Where I said, like, to myself in my head, “Do you know why I need to hear I’m doing a good job? Do you know like why this—” ‘Cause sometimes, y’know, I say it and I definitely mean it, but like… why is this so important? Like, why is this something that we have just become so… dependent on? And it’s because I’m so keenly aware of how hard I am trying. And I want to yell at my kids “Do you see?! Do you see this?!” I am juggling your, y’know, trying to carry your emotional, y’know, weight while you sort this out. I am trying to make this setup so that you can, y’know, Zoom learn. I am trying to make Halloween happy.

biz

I am trying to also take care of myself. I am trying to make sure that, y’know, we’ve got all this stuff. And you wanna be like, “Do you see? Do you see it?” Like… I am definitely having moments where, y’know, with my tween where there are things that she would like to have right now. And they are not things I am ready for her to have. And I’ll let you guys just mystery think about that. But the bottom line is—she doesn’t see all the research, all the work, all the like talking to people to find out what’s the right thing; what are you doing; how did you do this; what would be appropriate? Y’know. And I know eventually it will just come down to—y’know—letting her experiment and try things ‘cause that’s what they’re supposed to do at that age. But she doesn’t see all the extra work. And I think about all the extra work everybody’s doing out there? And I just… want to say… you’re doing a good job. Because that’s just like one of the million reasons we need to hear it. You’re doing… a great job. You’re doing more than you expected to do. Everything keeps changing. Are we in school? Did the school just get shut down? Oh my god. I’m home all day. I’m suddenly a work-from-home or stay-at-home parent and that is not what my plan was. Right? Like, that was not what I wanted to do. Or, I’m having to be out all the time in a world that may scare me. Y’know? And it is… it’s—it is a lot. And… you’re all doing… remarkable? And I really, really hope that for those of you who enjoy Halloween, you are able to make some Halloween fun of some kind. Helen Michelle certainly probably gave you a lot of ideas. I’m pretty sure that toilet papering someone’s house is considered social distance activities. And I hope you have a happy Halloween. And I will talk to you guys… next week. Bye!

music

“Mama Blues” by Cornbread Ted and the Butterbeans. Strumming acoustic guitar with harmonica and lyrics. _I got the lowdown momma blues_ Got the lowdown momma blues Gots the lowdown momma blues The lowdown momma blues Gots the lowdown momma blues Got the lowdown momma blues You know that’s right [Music fades somewhat, plays in background of dialogue.]

biz

We’d like to thank MaxFun; our producer, Hannah Smith; our husbands, Stefan Lawrence and Jesse Thorn; our perfect children, who provide us with inspiration to say all these horrible things; and of course, you, our listeners. To find out more about the songs you heard on today’s podcast and more about the show, please go to MaximumFun.org/onebadmother. For information about live shows, our book and press, please check out OneBadMotherPodcast.com.

theresa

One Bad Mother is a member of the Maximum Fun family of podcasts. To support the show go to MaximumFun.org/donate. [Music continues for a while before fading out.]

music

A cheerful ukulele chord.

speaker 1

MaximumFun.org.

speaker 2

Comedy and culture.

speaker 3

Artist owned—

speaker 4

—Audience supported.

About the show

One Bad Mother is a comedy podcast hosted by Biz Ellis and Theresa Thorn about motherhood and how unnatural it sometimes is. We aren’t all magical vessels!

Join us every week as we deal with the thrills and embarrassments of motherhood and strive for less judging and more laughing.

Call in your geniuses and fails: 206-350-9485. For booking and guest ideas, please email onebadmother@maximumfun.org. To keep up with One Bad Mother on social media, follow @onebadmothers on Twitter and Instagram.

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