Did one of your parents ever have a phrase they’d say when you made a huge mess in the house? Something like: “It looks like a PIG STYE in here?!”
I feel like everyone has a parent who says one of those phrases. My mom would always walk into a room and go: “Je-sus Christ! It looks like a freaking TORNADO hit!”
And one time when my sister and I were really little, my mom came down to the basement where we were playing and she said, “Je-sus Christ, Liz and Stu! It looks like a freaking TORNADO hit!”
And we were so young that Liz was like, “What’s a tornado?”
And I was like, “Yeah, what’s a tornado?”
And my mom was like, “A tornado is a bunch of wind that goes WHOOSH, WHOOSH in circles in the sky and it picks up houses and puts them down!”
And Liz was like, “Whoaaaaaaa!!! Maybe a tornado will come tonight!”
And my mom was like, “Ha ha ha! Clean. The. Basement.”
My mom really did think it was funny because, I mean, come on….what are the chances of a tornado coming on the same night that Liz and I found out – for the very first time – that tornadoes were a thing? That would just be crazy!
But then.. .A TORNADO CAME THAT NIGHT.
As we learned, you have to take cover when a tornado hits. So, we all went downstairs to huddle in the freshly-cleaned basement. And because we were sitting in the basement, which I had worked so very hard to clean, I had the chance to think about what had happened earlier that day. The more I thought about it, the more confused I became with how my mom had described the dirty basement. Here was a tornado currently “hitting us,” and yet the basement remained totally clean! Was she playing us? So I asked, “Mom? If there’s a tornado.. .why is the basement still clean?”
My mom said, “No, no silly.. .the tornado is outside. If the tornado hit the house then it would get a lot messier, now wouldn’t it?”
I was young, but I wasn’t an idiot. So I thought to myself, ‘But, if a tornado actually hit the house it would be a much bigger mess than what we made.. .that would be a HUGE mess. Like, that’s a different order mess than what we just cleaned up!’ And, as a kid, I don’t know why, but I took that comparison pretty hard. I took it as an unfair judgement of my character! I didn’t think comparing my mess to a tornado was appropriate at all. In fact, it was pretty insulting. In my head I was like, ‘I’m a good kid! I make regular level messes.. .I don’t make tornado level messes! That’s more than I am capable of!’
I didn’t want to be a little dick about it, so I didn’t say anything to my mom. I was just like, “Okay, fine.” The tornado passed and the basement remained clean and I didn’t say a word about how wildly inaccurate her tornado comparison was. And subsequently, I let my mom get away with her favorite saying, “it looks like a tornado hit!” for years and years and years.
But, eventually, I got my payback.
Way later, when I was in high school, one day after school my mom says to me and Liz, “There’s a storm down state where your grandparents live.”
And Liz was like, “A tornado?!?!”
And my mom was like, “Yes, there could be a tornado.”
And Liz was like, “Oooooh I hope it doesn’t hit grandma and grandpa’s house!”
And my mom was like, “Liz!!! Stahhhhhp!”
And then.. .later that night.. .A TORNADO HIT MY GRANDPARENTS’ HOUSE.
I want to make it perfectly clear that my sister is in fact the devil. To illustrate my point, there’s this story that my mom always tells: It must have been a few years before the first tornado hit (Liz was probably around four years old and I was about two) and my sister happened to ask my mom what was for dinner that night. My mom said, “I’m making stew!” Not having heard of a food named “stew,” my sister paused as if to question her own morality. An evil grin spread over her face. “We can’t really eat Stu, .. .can we??” She couldn’t have felt that bad about the idea.
Don’t worry about the tornado though! My grandparents were fine, thankfully. But, my mom drove down state to make sure my grandparents had a place to stay and everything. After, she came back home and she told us what had happened to our grandparents house – or what was left of it. Really shaken up, she told us how…
“There was debris everywhere, there was insulation covering everything, there was furniture broken in half and strewn all the way down the street, the roof was completely gone, and the biggest beam in the house had split right in two and crashed down on top of grandma and grandpas bed.. .I honestly have no idea how they made it out alive.”
I let my mom speak, soaking in her every word. For I knew that this was my moment. When she finally finished, I smugly said, “.. .. . ..seems like you might have been overreacting about the basement! Hmmm?!”
And my mom was like, “What?!”
And I was like, “Sounds like you might have been overreacting a little bit when you said the basement looked like ‘a tornado hit!’ Don’t you think??”
And my mom was like, “Stu…that was over ten years ago. Do you REALLY THINK this is a good time for you to be bringing that up?!”
I thought for a second and then I was like, “Ehhh, I guess not.” I suppose you shouldn’t try to cache in on someone’s parent’s near neath experience as a means of proving a point you were trying to make ten years ago. But hey, the point is, regardless, I was right!
After that, I got away with a lot more messes. Because every time my mom would come into my room, she’d say, “Je-sus Christ! It looks like a freaking – ”
And I’d be like, “Ah, ah, ah! Whoa, be careful what you say!” Because you never know when my devil sister could summon a tornado for a third time.
This post was written by Stu Melton, a NYC comedian and creator of ACN. You can find him on twitter @tellsjokes.
The featured image was created by NYC comedian and artist Steve Girard. Right now he’s working on a movie, called Floaters Dot Com, about turning people into free trial discs. You can follow him on Instagram @gevestirard and twitter @OrpahWinferd.