Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Wacky Wednesday Writers: Guest Post by Nicole Chardenet

     Today is a special day on Menopausal Mother. This is the start of a my new series, Wacky Wednesday Writers, where each week I will feature a new guest blogger.  First one out of the gate today is Nicole Chardenet, author of two novels, Sumer' Lovin and Young Republican, Yuppie
Princess. She is also the author of the humorous and often thought-provoking blog, Tongue Of Dog's Breakfast, which can be found at:
     Nicole is one of the very first bloggers I met when I dipped my toes into the blogosphere two years ago. I was immediately drawn to her sharp wit and wacky sense of humor, and we have been bloggy buddies ever since. She has always been incredibly kind and supportive of Meno Mama, and it is an honor to be able to feature her here today.
     Please welcome my dear friend Nicole and show her some comment love after you read her humorous post!

3-D Gil: Laughing Through The Tears

“Hey, will you look at that! It's Three Desserts Gil!”
“Hey! 3-D Gil! How's the afterlife treatin' ya?”
My father stops and rolls his eyes. 
“Hey! Pete! Over here! Lookit who's joined us!”
“I'm going to KILL my family,” Dad grumbles.
“You can't,” laughs St. Michael. “You just died!”
“Then I'm going to haunt them for the rest of their lives!”
“No can do, Big G. You didn't believe in the afterlife, so you don't get to go downstairs and pull the Big Boo on them.”
Dad sighs. “What can I do, then?” he asks. “They've hung me with this embarrassing nickname for the rest of my life!”
“Afterlife,” St. Peter snickers. “Tell you what, we can offer a consolation prize. When each of your family members comes to join us, we'll let you meet them at the Pearly Gates and give them all kinds of crap.”
Dad brightens up.

“Three Desserts Gil.”

Dad had a massive heart attack hours after doing what he loved best - eating. He'd downed a large plate of shrimp scampi and washed it down with three, count 'em, THREE desserts. Mom was furious, between the tears, on that dreaded middle-of-the-night phone call.

I was en route as soon as Avis opened. I'm a Toronto townie with a license but no car. So on an hour and a half of sleep, a double-shot espresso from Tim Horton's and a lot of really loud rock music, I blasted down to Michigan to deal with my father's sudden death - a week before Christmas.

"My first Christmas"

The first day or so my brother, my mother and I were in shock. It wasn't perhaps the biggest surprise, we'd had some earlier warning Dad had heart trouble, and he had lived a long and happy life. He'd also been a chow hound. He came from a French family where if it doesn't move fast enough they'll eat it. Don't ask us what really happened to Jimmy Hoffa.

Then, the pastor came over for the bereavement visit.

“Tell me what your father was like,” he said to us as we sat in the living room.

And we started telling stories. Funny stories. Because my dad was a funny guy, not laugh-out-loud funny like Robin Williams or Chris Rock, but understated and straight-man funny. He had a great sense of humor, just like everyone in our nutty family. For example:

My mother entered the kitchen half-asleep and uncaffeinated one summer morning in 1991. Dad was at the table, dressed for work, finishing his breakfast as he watched the news. He looked up and with his solemn brown eyes and a voice laden with doom he said, “Something terrible has happened!”

"Dad like all other father's in America"

Mom stopped in her tracks. What was it? Some horrible natural disaster? Did someone assassinate the President? Had war been declared?

“Somebody hugged the Queen!!!”

My mother sagged with relief. “Gil Chardenet, you bum! I'm going to kill you! Then I'm going to divorce you! I thought it was something SERIOUS!”

Queen Elizabeth was visiting the States, and an overeager American, unaware of exceedingly strict British protocol - hugged the Queen!

This meant the British press wanted to declare war immediately on the U.S., although cooler heads prevailed when reminded that the Revolution thing hadn't gone too well back in the day and now the bloody ex-colonials had nukes.

So we told the pastor about the Queen. And Dad's work on the space program. How this prime engineer fashioned a killer lamp that destroyed my computer monitor. His hijinks in the Merchant Marines. Then my brother said, “He really liked limericks! Want to hear some?”

And I screamed, “No, not the limericks! You can't tell the pastor Dad's limericks!”

But my brother did anyway - fortunately, the ones least likely to damn his soul to everlasting hellfire for corrupting a Man of God - and to my immense relief the pastor laughed loudly, genuinely, and we were all laughing, rocking the paint off the walls.

I said, “Everyone who can hear us is going to wonder what the hell is going on! 'Didn't they just lose their husband and father? Why are they laughing so much?'”


That just sent us into more gales of laughter. And for the rest of the week, between the tears, we laughed about Three Desserts Gil, who died the way any Frenchman would want to die - with a full belly. And three desserts! Did I mention he'd had THREE DESSERTS?!?!

When we picked out a casket at the funeral home, Mom said, “He never told me what he wanted.”

And I said, “Knowing Dad, he'd want the cheapest casket possible!”

"Dad New Year's Eve 1982"

And my brother added, “If we could ask him, I'll bet he'd say, 'Oh, just bury me in a coffee can!'” (Like a dead gerbil?!?) “We should have grabbed a rusty old Folger's coffee can from Dad's workbench!”

“The one with the knife slice in the lid!” I giggled. I could just hear our Depression-era dad fulminating over our shoulders. “Ten thousand dollars? For a damn casket? DON'T YOU DARE!”

He didn't get the coffee can, but I'm pretty sure the funeral director fetched the gin bottle after we left.

It wasn't until I was driving back to Toronto that I realized just how important humor was to our family. My mom, like Marcia, called herself the Menopause Mama back in her hot flash days, and she loves Erma Bombeck too. I thought back to all the times our family laughed together - sometimes with my Uncle Keith, Mom's brother, who's just as much of a wacko as the rest of us - including the Thanksgiving dinners in which we recounted all the favourite family stories involving poop, pee, barf, pets, and small children. Yes, over Thanksgiving dinner, we roared through the familiar stories of public regurgitations, festive glittery Christmas candy debacle doggy-doos, and of course the notorious Schroon Lake Italian Restaurant fiasco that my brother will never, ever live down (it involved baby poop, bien sûr!)

Not everyone deals with tragedy with humor, but it worked for Famille Chardenet. Like Menopausal Mother, I have a sick and crazy but wonderful family, and that included my straight-faced but not strait-laced dad. And I wish now we'd had a few extra words added to his gravestone.

Bon Appétit!

Nicole Chardenet is an Erma Bombeck fan and former Floridian who gets 
flashbacks to her childhood while reading Marcia's blog. She's an ex-pat 
who now lives in Toronto with her evil henchkitty Belladonna because she 
hates cockroaches and hurricanes and giant spiders. She's the author of 
two novels and can't swear there won't be more forthcoming. She really 
wants a slice of Marcia's Butterfingers-and-rum cake, not that she's 
obsessed with it or anything...

On Twitter: @nchardenet

Web site:
Tongue of Dog's Breakfast Blog:



Sumer Lovin' on Amazon:

Young Republican, Yuppie Princess on Amazon: 


  1. I SOOOOO love this!!!!! I can absolutely relate to every word 'cause my Dad just died last month and he was a freakin' riot. I wrote his obituary and no one had seen anything like it in his conservative Pennsylvania Dutch town. We are all still laughing about it. I actually wrote "if he's in heaven, I know he's raisin' some hell". That describes him perfectly.

    1. You sound like a woman after my own heart! I wrote a brief essay for my father's funeral which the pastor read out loud since I didn't think I could do it myself, done with a gentler humour than I display here, LOL...folks really seemed to appreciate it. Your dad sounds like a total pistol! I'm sorry for your loss.

  2. I don't always laugh when someone's father passes away, but when I do I feel like I found a new friend. My father passed away in November and we wanted to make Tshirts that said "My father died, and all I got were these LOUSY JOKES."
    That was my father's legacy, AWFUL jokes that we would make fun of HIM for telling, then before we know it, WE would tell them, people would make fun of US for telling them, then our children and other people would tell them. Those jokes would spread unwillingly like Personality Herpes. GREAT POST!

    1. Some of my dad's old jokes dated back to his days in the Merchant Marines...and they were pretty awful :) Not in an inappropriate way...I'm sure he never shared THOSE jokes with us!!! But the ones he told were of the truly silly and corny variety.

      Thanks for your kind words! We who laugh will live the longest :)

  3. Love stories with humor. Love your story. I'm an expat from Ohio living in Mexico. Lots to laugh and write about here. I'm now following you.

    1. Thank you for following! I lived in Ohio too, from '75 to '87. I was in Alliance & Kent in the northeast region. And I moved north & you moved south! Looks like we have a few things in common :)

  4. Great read! The part about the casket reminds me of my Father, he's made similar comments :)

    I wanted to invite you to the Meet & Greet Blog Hop! It runs from Tuesday nights till the end of Saturday, Come stop by if you have some time :)

    1. Thank you, Laurie, I will definitely check it out. Is this a weekly thing?

  5. What a thoughtful, funny and poignant tribute to your Dad, Nicole. I'm sure, whether he's allowed to haunt you or not, he's very proud of you.

  6. I've dreamed about him a few times, in which I knew he was dead, and was able to give him a few good-bye hugs. He was a good man.

  7. Super! I thoroughly enjoyed this post, because I'm a huge believer in finding humor in every situation. It may not always be appropriate, but it's always a joy.

    In fact, I enjoyed this post so much, I zipped over to Amazon and bought "Sumer Lovin'". Can't wait to read it!

    1. Thanks for your support! I hope you enjoy the book! I guess if you can handle humour about death you can handle humour about *anything* :)

  8. I think it is wonderful that you could talk about the funny stories about your dad and have a laugh... death is sad and you need some laughter to get through all those tough times. I read this blog of Marcia's so that I can always get a laugh... it perks me up each time :)

    1. I feel I don't have room to complain much...I got to keep him into my middle age, which is longer than some people get to keep a parent. Plus I know life is all about impermanence (it's the sorta-Buddhist in me) and we can't hang on to life - our or loved ones - forever. And he DID have three desserts that night. You have to admit...that's pretty funny :)

  9. Humor is one of life's biggest blessings, don't you think? My humor is always totally inappropriate and shared at the "wrong" times, but that's by design, because what better way to make a crappy situation just a little less crappy? Great post, and Marcia, congrats on the start of a new weekly feature!

    1. I SOOOO love your "totally inappropriate humor", too! Which is why I stalk your blog constantly!!

  10. It's so great to have such funny and joyous memories and experiences. I really enjoyed this!

    1. I'm so glad you liked my first guest's post! Thanks for stopping by, Shelly!

  11. My family laughs a lot at funeral homes, because like you we would rather remember the funny things. As a matter of fact, the funeral home director knows he can joke with them and get away with it (we had a lot of deaths in our family in a short time and it's a smaller town in the Midwest...)

    1. The Irish know how to send off the dead! Even though my family's French, I told some friends last night to hold a wake for me when I'm gone, and everyone should get drunk and laugh and talk about all the good times. What a wonderful way to grieve!

  12. Well, Marcia, your inaugural Wacky Writer really set the bar HIGH! Nicole, you've managed to weave humor, like laugh-out-loud funny, into such a solemn post. That's as real gift, lady. I really hung on every word, too; thank you for this!

    P.S. I remember when that overzealous American hugged the queen. I thought the Queen was rude for not bear-hugging back ;)

    1. My mom pointed out that no one goes into High Dudgeon when Somebody Hugs The President! In fact, he usually hugs back!

  13. Yep. You've described our family perfectly. When we were planning Mom's funeral with the director, he just shook his head and muttered, "Never seen anything like this before. Nope."
    And you should have seen us at the reading of the will . . .

    1. The funeral director for my dad's funeral told us we were the easiest family he ever had to deal with. It probably helped that we didn't take anything out on him, which I'm sure happens to him a lot. It also helped that he didn't muck anything up; he was a consummate professional who made it all just a little easier to bear.

      S/he who laughs, lasts!

  14. This made me tear-up, remembering my own dad. What a beautiful and funny tribute. It's always good to remember our loved ones with a smile on our face. Good article!

    1. So sorry to hear about your loss, Donna. But they live on in our hearts, don't they?

  15. Oh, I'm so glad I happened by your blog on the day of your guest blog post (saw you on GYB party). This was a terrific read! And what better way to remember your loved ones, but with all the good memories and fun had together! I can't wait to see what else your blog has to offer.

    Debi @ That Crafty Lunch Lady

    1. Nicole has an awesome blog! Please be sure to stop in and read her latest post. Thanks for stopping by!

  16. Please change your is difficult to raed

    1. Sorry you had difficulty reading it. I have already changed it twice before and this was the one that everyone liked best.



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