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As we reach the middle of November, people around the world start to get wrapped up in the dreaded holiday hoopla. For those who celebrate Christmas, there are gifts to buy, trees to trim, and stockings to hang. Our Jewish friends are anxiously anticipating the beginning of Hanukkah and its eight nights of present giving, menorah lighting, and dreidel spinning. And then there's Kwanzaa, where millions of people all over the world will … um … who are we kidding? We have no idea. We're sure it's a rockin' good time, though.

The one unifying aspect for all of these holidays is family. We all have them, love them, and deal with them. Well, except orphans, who will most likely spend their holidays sitting in cold, lonely church kitchens waiting for bags of impersonal gifts to be delivered by Hell's Angels. Too bad.

Luckily, none of our ladies are orphans and they all have wonderful family stories to share.


Liz Moran

My grandmother had a spectacular rack. There are countless pictures of her well into her sixties, wearing tight sweaters, shoulders thrown back with a defiant look in her eyes that cried out, "top these, ladies." The ladies never could, and poor Grandma was often subjected to derision. Sitting in Brigham's as a child, and finishing my meal of potato chips and hot chocolate, I listened carefully as my grandma complained to my mother.

"Ida called me fat yesterday. I'm not fat. She's just jealous that I haven't sagged yet."

This was punctuated by hearty boob grab. My mother agreed and as they both stuffed their pocketbooks with Sweet N' Low packets, I pondered the implications of both sagging boobs and thievery.

Grandma stayed with us often during the year and any time that wasn't spent making ravioli was spent in Filene's Basement, pawing through bins of undergarments. It was horrific. Because Grandma was getting older, her beloved breasts were deflating. We spent so much time searching for the bra that would make up for the sag. Once she found the bra that would highlight her strengths, she loved to show it off. If you were lucky enough to be a blood relative and a female (this encompassed only me and my mother) Grandma would flash you her faux satin and lace across the kitchen table right in time for dessert. The flash would send me running from the room, but it always elicited a supportive, "Nice, Ma!" from my mother. I don't know if she was talking about the breasts or the bra, or perhaps both.

I inherited Grandma's boobs. They're a solid C, and I love them for the free drinks, but the downside is dark, and I dread it. The final time I saw my grandmother's breasts, she was nearing 80. I accidentally walked in on her getting dressed. She was sitting on the bed, bent at the waist, struggling with her nylons. For the first time I saw what they looked like braless. It was as if she had tube socks stuffed with cue balls dangling from her chest. They hung low and you could most definitely tie them in a knot and/or bow. I backed out of the room quickly and quietly, my trembling hands holding my chest and I promised myself bi-annual boob lifts starting at age 50.

Liz Moran is a freelance writer who is now accepting Pay Pal donations to pay for her pending boob lift.


Amy Deaton Smith

One Christmas in the late 90s, my mother decided to spend the holiday with me in New York. This made me nervous for a couple of reasons. She (and I) are from a small town in Oklahoma. She was dead-set against my living in New York, imagining it as a cesspool of vice and decadence -- quoting Midnight Cowboy as a source. She was never one of those cool moms who let kids call her by her first name and turned a blind eye to wine cooler consumption back when I was in high school.

Much to my relief, she was charmed by New York, loved my apartment and my neighborhood, went out with me and my friends, stayed out until 1 a.m. one night and even insisted on walking home through the East Village. I was thrilled. So I felt in order to keep her good opinion of the city I loved so much, I needed to protect her from the seamier side -- which seemed determined to show itself everywhere we went -- used condoms on the sidewalk, homeless men urinating in public and even someone sitting on a stoop shooting up.

But I managed to keep her from noticing all that and she was incredibly, surprisingly, a lot of fun. On Christmas Eve, she and I were walking through Washington Square Park and passed one of the many drug dealers muttering "smoke ... smoke ... smoke..." I was hoping she didn't hear and started to talk louder and keep walking, but she stopped and said to the guy, "I'm sorry sir, I don't smoke but my daughter does. Amy, do you have a cigarette for this gentleman?"

He started to laugh so hard he had a choking fit and as I was dutifully getting a cigarette out of my bag, she started patting him on the back. Next thing I know, my mother and the drug dealer are hugging and wishing each other a wonderful holiday.

Amy Deaton Smith is a freelancer living in New York. She wants people to know that her mother and the drug dealer in Washington Square Park are no longer dating.


Litsa Dremousis

I was a teenage art-geek. Frizzy haired and studious, I hadn't yet learned to work a prodigious vocabulary and ample rack to my advantage. But I had my first real boyfriend, Pete. We discussed Dylan Thomas at lunch and he played King Crimson riffs for me over the phone. I was in love.

My parents, both Greek, both prosecutors, insisted on meeting him. I balked, but relented when my dad threatened to run Pete's license plates. The next day after school, Pete loaded his books into my used Mustang and we drove home. It was two weeks before Christmas and I'd told him my folks wanted to include him in a traditional Greek holiday meal. Once inside, we sat on the living room couch by the Christmas tree. Mom and Dad wouldn't be home for a couple of hours and I thought my brother was at soccer practice.

"You're my other half," Pete said and put his hand on my knee. As we kissed, a moaning sound wafted down the hall. Barely audible at first, it grew louder. I realized it was my brother.

"It sounds like someone's jacking off," Pete said, alarmed.

The bathroom door flung open and my brother raced into the room.

"Aaaahhhhh!" he yelled and ran toward Pete. His hands were coated in viscous white liquid and he waved them around maniacally.

"Is he retarded?" Pete asked frantically, tripping over the hassock in an effort to get away.

"I want to give you my baby juice!" my brother continued and chased Pete into the kitchen. I heard my mom's planter knock into a wall.

By now, I knew what was going on. My brother, a smart-ass and more than slightly nuts, was hazing my boyfriend. My boyfriend, however, had no clue.

"Goddamn it, George! Leave him alone!" I called after them. I sprinted into the kitchen, caught George by the shirt and yanked. He stopped and burst out laughing.

"Oh my God! Dude, you should have seen the look on your face!" he told Pete, who was visibly shaken.

"Lighten up there, pal. It's just Ivory Liquid. I would have had to crank it eight or nine times to get that much jizz," my brother said.

"What the hell's wrong with you?!" Pete cried.

Later at dinner, Pete endured my parents' inquisition with aplomb. He made polite conversation with my brother as if nothing had happened. Yet, the next week, he left me for a cheerleader.

Litsa Dremousis wrote, directed, and produced the plays, "If I Wake Before I Die" and "9:00 in the Afternoon" and writes for a bunch of magazines and has interviewed shitloads of famous people. She's learned to never trust a man who likes King Crimson and Dylan Thomas.


Jenni Miller

In the cultural wasteland of North Dallas, the local Starbucks is the high school hangout. One night after dinner, Mom was aiming her big, black Caddy through the parking lot when a stream of "twats," as she called them, began crossing the street. Like rats following the Pied Piper of drecky coffee, the frosted blonde nymphets didn't stop. Mom figured she'd waited long enough, and it was now her turn. She carefully drove forward, cutting off two of them.

One girl snarled at the driver's side tinted window. "Fuck you, old lady!" It was one of those daring teenage moments when you think you might get caught, but maybe, just maybe those windows are soundproof and the driver can't read lips. She was wrong.

Mom rolled down the window. "Why don't YOU go fuck yourself!"

Meanwhile, Pops had thrown off his seatbelt and was holding his cane and opening the door so he could get out and crack skulls. Mom was trying to rein him in, but he wasn't having it. "Paul, get back in the car! PAUL!"

The girl watched in horror. These old people were coming to kick her ass! And her friends had ditched her! They were watching from the window of the Starbucks! And they already had Frappacinos!

She made a break for it, and once Dad was wearing his seat belt, my parents cruised off.

"She was a real C word," Mom told me over the phone that night. Even though I learned most of my foul vocabulary from my parents, Mom had one word that was off-limits. It remains the C word or a C-shaped hand gesture in Mom's lexicon. She hates it when I say it. You know which word I mean.

"I would have broken that bitch's nose," I said. "No one talks to my parents that way."

"Except you," she reminded me.

Jenni Miller is a lady that not only loves to break bitches' noses, but also loves freelance writing.


Kelly Mills

My mother oozes naiveté. At times it seems like she just leaped out of The Sound of Music. But somehow, even though I know that she is all innocence, I was still caught off guard by the very special Christmas gift from the local New Age store. She had only recently abandoned regular church-going for something that "valued the sacred feminine."

"I wanted to get you something different this year, something meaningful," she gushed.

My sister, husband, and stepfather leaned in while I pulled off the ribbon and opened the box. Inside was a sterling silver necklace with an oddly shaped pendant. I looked closer. It was a silver necklace in the shape of a vagina. With a tiny pearl clitoris.

My mom looked at me expectantly as I struggled for what to say. What do you do when your mother, who lowers her voice whenever she has to say the words "rear end" suddenly offers up a carefully wrought pussy for you to wear around your neck?

"Wow, thanks mom." I stammered. My sister and husband started giggling.

My stepfather went into the other room to watch TV. My mom couldn't leave well enough alone.

"Do you like it? I asked the salesgirl for something special, and she told me that this is called a Yoni. It's an ancient symbol."

By this time my sister and husband were muffling hysterical laughter with the hand woven scarves she'd bought them. I toyed with the idea of letting the whole thing go, of trying to think of a suitable occasion where I might, in fact, want to wear a snatch dangling from a chain. But since I'm not a member of a drumming circle, I decided to tell her the truth.

"Mom, do you know what a yoni is?" I asked quietly.

She didn't know. I took a deep breath. "Mom, a yoni is a vagina."

She looked closely at the necklace and blanched.

"A what?" she asked, turning redder than her Santa hat.

I couldn't stop myself. "A vagina. Female genitalia. A snatch. Bearded clam."

"Mom," I paused momentarily, "The salesgirl sold you a sterling silver cunt."

Look, I'm not an ingrate. I know it's the thought that counts. And it is that thought, conscious or not, that terrifies me about my mother.

Kelly Mills is a freelance writer in Berkely, CA. Sometimes she likes to wake her, shake her yoni-yoni.


Jen Hubley

My grandfather's funeral was really lovely: more flowers than the Rose Bowl parade, more hymns than Sunday morning at the Bushes' house. The fact that he hadn't wanted a funeral at all seemed beside the point. That's the problem with trying to make your funeral arrangements yourself: by the time they're needed, you're not around anymore to plead your case.

Still, everything went well until it was time for me and my nine-year-old cousin Molly to go up to the casket and say goodbye.

She started out innocently enough -- praying. She said the Our Father, and the Hail Mary. It seemed the worst that might happen was that she'd spend twenty minutes or so running through every prayer she'd learned in CCD. She told my grandfather that she loved him. It was fairly moving.

That accomplished, she grabbed my hand and said, "Now we have to kiss him."

I was somewhat confused. Kiss him?

She confirmed: Yes, kiss him.

I expressed my opinion that maybe that wasn't necessary.

She started yelling. "You have to kiss him. You have to KISS him. KISS HIM. KISS HIM. YOU-HAVE-TO-KISS-HIM-YOU-HAVE-TO-KISS-HIM-YOU-HAVE-TO-"

I could feel people starting to stare at us. As for me, all I could look at was the body, now that I'd seen it. "Okay, okay." I said. I leaned over, as quickly as I could, and kissed the air above his forehead and then looked at Molly for approval.

Her eyes filled with disgust and pity.

"You have to kiss him for real," she said.

I nodded miserably. I took a deep breath. I leaned over, and kissed my grandfather's dead body right on the forehead. He was horribly cold, much colder than normal cold things, and didn't smell great.

Molly patted my hand, satisfied at last. "He feels just like chicken out of the fridge," she said

When Jen Hubley is not making out with her dead relatives, she can be found diary-ing at


Amy Blair

My father is crazy. I'm not talking about crazy in that hardy-har, aren't old people wacky? kind of way … I'm talking about full-scale, too much Agent Orange, kooked-out Vietnam vet crazy.

Every once in awhile my siblings and I ask ourselves the unspoken question -- someday, seriously, not too far down the road, we are going to have to figure out just what the hell to do with Dad. And it gets me to thinking … what if my crazy Vietnam vet dad and I were roommates?

1. We would eat nothing but Steak-Ums and fried bologna sandwiches in the apartment. The proper way to eat a fried bologna sandwich is to fry the bologna in a pan until a perfect one and a half inch bologna bubble forms in the center of the cold cut. That's how you know it's done.

2. We would listen to nothing but Kenny Rogers. Just before my father moved out of our family's house he came to the realization that Kenny Rogers was the country lite rock god great love of his life. At dinnertime when he would replace our Iron Maiden records with The Gambler it would break my idiotic little heart.

3. We would have a brand new 5-minute outgoing answering machine message every single morning in the style of a pop radio DJ delivering the morning news. You think I exaggerate? Never underestimate the power of a Vietnam vet to ramble incomprehensibly for no easily apparent reason on an outgoing answering machine message: "Hey there guys and gals, you've reached Larry and Amy, coming right at ya. Here's a little of that cahhhh-razy psychedelic music straight from Jim Morrison … (which would then be followed by a two minute segment from Light My Fire). Oh, yeah, all of you out there, Light My Fire. Light me and Amy's fire. Oh yeah. It's Tuesday, and it's one helluva beautiful day out there. Oh, and if this is someone from the FBI, the CIA, or the Secret Service, please stop following me, and don't leave messages on this machine. I've still got contacts back in 'Nam, and I'm not afraid to call them. Wait for the tone!"

4. My entire apartment would be decorated in a new garbage theme every four weeks or so. Unlike most people, my father believes that there is legitimate, discernible value in digging through a trashcan, and then using whatever he finds to stick to the walls of his apartment as decoration. He uses silicone as an adhesive, and for any of you lucky bastards unfamiliar with silicone, it's a sticky, clear, incomprehensibly unaesthetic product sold by the tube in most hardware stores. I have no idea what its intended purpose is, but my father uses it for every repair job big and small, from fixing a broken lamp, to repairing upholstery, to hanging a picture frame, to basic first aid for minor cuts and burns. Oh, and he also uses it to decorate. My sister put it best when she helped him move out of an apartment one time… "Amy, you just wouldn't BELIEVE how much shit he had in there. I was scraping three year old lottery tickets off the fucking bathroom walls. He siliconed them on there."

Amy Blair makes the Black Table consistently funny every week with her brilliant Week in Craig column. She also does things with fried bologna sandwiches that would put her behind bars.


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