Spoofs & Satire

It’s Complicated

Though mothers may gnash their teeth at forgotten flowers and missing brunches, the poets still sing of the worst Mother’s Day ever: that of Oedipus and his bride.

Once upon a time there lived a King, Laius of Thebes, who supported a woman’s Right to Choose after a pediatrician predicted that his son would drive him to an early grave. But Laius’s pregnant wife, Jocasta, a Right-to-Lifer, already had the nursery set up and a cute name picked out: Oedipus. So, after she bore the boy, her husband spirited Oed from the delivery room and strung him up on a mountainside. Soon the stork arrived in the form of a local shepherd who delivered the colicky kid to the childless king of Corinth.

Later, Oed, a teen now, was hitchhiking on Delphi Road when a motorist—with an uncanny resemblance to his old man, Laius—gave him the brush, the boy lost his head, and popped him. Then he continued on for Thebes, home of the fearful Sphinx.

Part lion, part bird, with a woman’s face and breasts: The Sphinx ate anybody who couldn’t figure out her riddles. Everybody. The mayor, Creon, was offering to any man who solved the monster’s riddle not only the crown, but his recently widowed sister, Jocasta.

Each was the image of both parents, had exactly 10 fingers apiece, Oed and Jo were delighted, praised the gods, and sacrificed profusely.

Oedipus solved the riddle, took the throne, and tied the knot with Jo. The young man had always preferred older, more mature women. Ingenues had never interested him. Oed’s bride bore him two strong sons, Polynices and Eteocles, and two beautiful daughters, Antigone and Ismene. Each was the image of both parents, had exactly 10 fingers apiece, Oed and Jo were delighted, praised the gods, and sacrificed profusely.

Then one morning locusts descended on Thebes, and an oracle informed Oed that they’d leave as soon as the murderer of Laius, the former king, was apprehended.

By nightfall, his senior seer, a blind transsexual by the name of Tiresias, hurried onto the royal portico with a local shepherd. The conversation began in whispers at the monarch’s ear but soon rose to baying, beating of breasts, and gnashing of teeth. Meanwhile, the queen swooned and was carried to the powder room.

After dismissing his seer, Oedipus sat down at his desk stocked with vellum, the royal seal, and golden quills. He composed more than a few letters that evening, tearing up each only after a few words. This is the last surviving draft…


Dear Mom:

During our honeymoon in Corfu, I felt a sense of a déjà vu while nursing. Back at home, when you ironed my Jockeys, powdered me after my bath, and checked under our bed for monsters, I was touched. Later, after Poly, ET, Tiggy, and Isme came along, you called me “Papa Bear.”

Now the palace is enveloped by stench, circled by buzzards and the paparazzi.

Personally, in terms of spin, I see only four options:

  1. Don’t admit a thing, and go on just like before. (If anybody suggests we’re related, we’ll execute them as perverts. Starting with Ms. Teri!)
  2. Admit it, and go on just like before. (Ignore the locusts. If anybody says anything we’ll just tell them to mind their own beeswax or ship their keesters to Cairo.)
  3. Admit it, and go on just as before, except in separate bedrooms. (Except I don’t know if I can keep my hands off you at this point.)
  4. Admit it, and file for divorce. (But what about sickness and health? Thick and thin!) (Child custody could be a stickie wicket too.)

In short, again speaking only for myself, darling, it’s between 1 and 2. I’m leaning a tad toward 1. Though I know I can put up with people thinking (just as long as you are still mine) I’m perverted, it seems far simpler to issue a decree that would brand anybody who calls me the P word, as perverted themselves. And crazy. Follow?

It would save us the trouble of having to mention anything to the kids, too.

Get back to me as soon as you can, Mama Bear.

Meantime, let’s not make a mountain out of a molehill. Think of it this way: Everything was OK for 20 years up till 15 minutes ago—and you weren’t any less my mom then than now. Right?

Your Papa Bear,

P.S. As far as Dad is concerned—I’m sorry, but you don’t hang babies or hit-and-run hitchers. You got a better shake the second time around.

The messenger delivered the king’s letter to the powder room. His mom responded in a single draft.

Why didn’t I say anything? I just couldn’t bear the thought of telling you that you were adopted.

My Honey Bear:

I don’t know about déjà vu in Corfu, but that is where your dimples (which run on your father’s side) began to haunt me. Why didn’t I say anything? I just couldn’t bear the thought of telling you that you were adopted.

Kiss the kids goodbye for me, dumpling. Tell Tiggy to be a good girl and take care of her Papa. Tell Poly or ET not to bicker or bother with name-callers. Remember: sticks and stones!

As for the Cretans, let them think what they will. In whatever life awaits me now, above or below, I shall never forget our magic. And you will always be my pooh.

Adieu, My Beloved Boy,


Hearing a wail from the handmaidens, Oedipus cast aside the letter and hurried to the powder room. Finding his wife hanging from the chandelier, he blinded himself with her brooch, an anniversary/Mother’s Day memento.

The next day the king was led by his daughter/sister, Antigone, to a retirement villa in Colonus, known, like California, for its family values and civil unions.

And from that time on, every boy thought twice before popping an old man on the freeway and outwitting a Sphinx—much less tying the knot with a widow who called him her “pooh.”