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Barf bags—the mother of invention

Happy Mother's Day, moms!
My mom, Jeanne Pelletier.

Every time I see my cousins Angela and Lisa, our get-together is guaranteed to erupt into full-fledged fits of uncontrollable laughter (even if we’re at a funeral home, like we were a couple months ago).

Usually, it starts with one of us tripping, spilling, or staining something. Then, inevitably, one of us will mention our mind-bogglingly brilliant future business plan, which we’ve been talking about for decades, but none of us has time to launch.

Called Sarcasticards, we recently discussed branching out into Sarcasticakes, and filling the world with fun and edible forms of sarcasm.

No fluffy sentimental sayings permitted; our cards would cater to real people experiencing real-life situations, such as, “Sorry you got dumped on Easter,” (an experience which actually happened to Angela, and still somehow makes me hysterical every time I see her).

I swear that as I was writing this column, my cousin Lillian—Angela and Lisa’s mother—sent me an email with the subject, “Hallmark cards you wish you could find,” with sayings like, “Congratulations on your wedding day; too bad no one likes your husband;” and “How could two people as beautiful as you have such an ugly baby?”

Apparently we’re not the only ones with that idea.

With people you love, you just can’t help but crack up.

Or, sometimes, barf.

No offense to Grimsbyonians, but for some reason my son Ryan would retch, as a child, every time we bypassed Grimsby on the highway.

On one memorable occasion, my niece Judy was in the back seat with him, and forgetting his mysterious tendency to lose his lunch in the Grimsby triangle, we'd neglected to pack barf bags.

It’s been said necessity is the mother of invention, and Judy was in desperate need of a spew shield, watching Ryan slowly turn green.

Staring helplessly from the front seat, I’ll never forget the look on her face—or her lightning-fast reflexes that day—as she grabbed a Frisbee and slid it under Ryan's gullet, just in time.

A few years prior, Judy was the one who’d wanted to barf when three-year-old Ryan chanted “Bologna sandwiches! in a singsong, all the way to Bancroft.

Back in the day, we were braver/dumber, and in our 20s, Judy and I were known to close our eyes and point to a place on a map, and then drive there. And then use the same scary method to pick out a campsite/hellhole.


Nowadays, if anyone within a 20-mile radius mutters the words “road trip” or “camping,” I will sprint from the room before they can click Google Maps.

While not brave in the discoverer/exploratory sense in her later years, it was Mom who left her parents and 12 siblings, in her teens, to move in with her relocated sister in search of work—not so simple, with your face hovering over a barf bag, all the way from Winnipeg to Port Dalhousie.

Generations of our family have inherited her backseat barfing, and both my sister LouAnne and I, her inability to operate anything that has one or more moving parts, knobs, or buttons.

LouAnne once said, “Even if I was in prison for years and had nothing to do all day, I still couldn’t finish one side of a Rubik’s cube.”

For years, we’ve threatened to write a country song—based on physical traits that have plagued Mom’s side of the family for centuries—called, Big Boobs and Crooked Fingers.

But seriously.

We did pick up some positive genes from her, too.

There’s our super-fierce love of family, French folk songs, and Jack Lemmon movies, for instance; and refusal to waste a drop or crumb.

Last night, LouAnne messaged me she’d added a bit of water to a near-empty Ketchup bottle, to add seasoning to some meat dish.

Jeanne lives.