The Humor and Life, in Particular Web site
author:  Margie Culbertson

February/March 2006 Humor Contest Winner
Best Very Short Humor!

Moto Matters


Tova Jarvis

One of the most inspiring ways to open any story is with a sentence that begins "There comes a point in every person's life…" It sounds deep and meaningful, but it's really a very easy device to use for any story. Unfortunately, I'm assuming that there is that "point" in every person's life or they can at least relate to the "point" that I'm trying to make. Or maybe I'm just crazy. You ever have that moment where you feel like you're just crazy? Yeah, it's something like that…except, for me, it's not really a single moment, but more like a continuous cycle.

Anyways, the point I'm trying to make, (as if there's any way I'm going to sound deep and meaningful now), is that there comes a point in every person's life where they suddenly find themselves staring dead in the face of the dreaded high school reunion. Well, maybe not every person. What if they were home schooled or dropped out or maybe they're actually really excited and happy about it? Or maybe I'm just crazy. All I know is that I'm staring dead in the face my own dreaded ten–year high school reunion. In fact, we're practically nose–to–nose, because it happens to be next weekend.

Originally, I had no intention of attending, but I had promised an old classmate that I would go. Amazingly, he's one of the few fellow classmates that I actually remember. Most people are concerned about their school reunions, because maybe they've gained a little weight or feel like they haven't accomplished that much. Frankly, my concern was rooted in the fact that I pretty much didn't remember anyone or much of anything from that period of my life.

I didn't think my high school years were that traumatizing and, yet, when I think about it, my memory bank is practically a blank slate. Of course, there are those times when I'd wake up in a cold sweat, crying out, "But I don't have my number two pencil! I'm going to fail my SAT's , go to a state school, and maybe end up in middle management somewhere!" I'm starting to consider hypnotherapy for recovering my memories of those four years. I would even prefer them giving me false memories, as long as it's good and it involves the captain of the football team. Then again, maybe not. Afterall, I don't remember who the captain of the football team was.

About a week ago, I received a letter from this classmate, who also happens to be planning this event. Along with all the basic information of where everyone is heading to remember and get drunk and then forget again, there is also a "Life Survey" included. This is basically a questionnaire filled with all kinds of nosy questions about my personal life, which is none of their business. I picked up my pen and started going through the questions. They, at first, seemed to be easy enough.

Name:  Tova Jarvis (phew. Got one right at least.)

Status:  Stable Condition (Trust me, if they would have got me one week earlier, I may have written in "critical." I was pretty much going insane at work, but let us continue…)

What is your proudest accomplishment since graduation? I learned how to create balloon animals. (If I learn how to juggle, I would be on the fast track to entertaining at children's birthday parties.)

Are you where you thought you'd be after ten years? No. (Considering that I thought I'd either be a trapeze artist in the circus or entertaining at children's birthday parties, life has pretty much been a big disappointment.)

Where have you traveled? Boston, St. Louis, Ireland, the 4th Dimension (And, let me tell you, the flight from San Francisco to Ireland was longer than my flight to the 4th Dimension. It took forever.)

What do you do? Work, eat, and sleep.

Would you wear a nametag with your yearbook picture on it? NO…but I'd wear a nametag with YOUR picture on it.

What is your motto?…………What is your motto?

I was on a roll, knowing that I had already aced the test and it was in the bag, but, suddenly, I stopped. Motto? Do people normally have mottos? I sat at my desk, stumped, staring off into space for a good five minutes. I finally had to admit to myself that, as far as I was aware, I had never claimed a motto for myself. I was essentially motto–less.

I started to think that maybe that's what was missing from my life and I didn't even know it. I guess you can say that I was suddenly having a motto epiphany or as I like to call it a "mottiphany." Actually, I've never called it that before, but it sounded deep and meaningful. I wondered if I could work that word into any of the answers of my life survey. That should impress the class. I scratched out my answer to "What do you do?" and wrote in Invent new words. Wow, I was impressed already.

But let's get back to the motto. Yeah, that was a real head scratcher and I, suddenly, was stricken with the familiar feelings of an anxiety attack. Must come up with a motto. Must come up with a motto. Must–Come–Up–With–MOTTO. That phrase suddenly was haunting me throughout my day and I spent days pondering it. Why didn't I have a motto? What was wrong with me? Was I not good enough, smart enough, good looking enough to have a motto? Maybe I was the only person alive, except for newborns, who didn't have one.

I realized that I was possibly putting myself in a very awkward and potentially embarrassing position. How can I show up at my reunion without a motto? Of course, I could just spend the evening avoiding the whole topic or I could also spend the evening hiding in a bathroom stall. I imagined a situation just like this: 

Me:  "So, yeah, I…uh…graduated from SF State with a honors and then moved to Los Angeles where I'm now an executive assistant for a visual effects studio where—"

Person–I–don't–remember:  "But what is your motto?"

An internal gasp and clammy palms develop, as I begin to feel the pressure. Maybe I'll just be able to fake it and blurt something brilliant out.

"A stitch in time, saves nine!"

And then I'd probably hyperventilate myself into a coma. A stitch in time, saves nine?!? I don't even know what that means! I mean, sure, I probably should have spent the last ten years, finding a worthwhile, meaningful motto that fit me perfectly. But, instead, now I was scrambling at the last minute and all I can come up with is something idiotic like that. I suppose that's what happens to procrastinators and people who have a habit of forgetting their number 2 pencils.

Well, I did what I usually did when I found myself in the middle of a crisis and I was definitely in a motto crisis. It would forever be known as "Mottrosis 2007." (Yes! Another word to put in my "Word Invention" book.) I called Mom. I must say she was very understanding of my plight.

Mom:  "Why are you worried about something so stupid? Do you think they're going to give you grade or something?"

Me:  "Ha! I'm not worried."

"So, why does it sound like you're hyperventilating?"

"I was running to answer the phone."

"But you called me."

Oh, yeah. You can never put one over on Mom.

"Hey, Mom, do you know that I'm a word inventor?"

Then she said something I'll never forget.

"Did you get the crack fixed in your windshield yet?"

"No, I keep forgetting. In fact, it got bigger when I washed my car last week."

"Tova Jarvis, how many times have I told you that you need to get that fixed? Do you want to have no eyes? Didn't I tell you that one little tap and the whole thing is going to shatter?"

No eyes? Wouldn't that be a fine mess to get myself into? Anyways, then the conversation went on for another 45 minutes and I don't think you need to hear all of it. The point is, that by the time I finished the conversation with my mom, I had my mottiphany and "Mottrosis 2007" came to an end.

So, there comes a point in everyone's life when they realize something that they probably should have known all along. This was one of those moments for me and it only took me ten years to realize it. Very carefully, I wrote next to "What is your motto?" My answer:  Mom is right.

© Tova Jarvis

Tova Jarvis is a 28 year old female trying to maintain her sanity in the crazy world of the film and television industry of Los Angeles. She finds the best way to do this is by writing short stories about how crazy she really is and by gorging on ice cream and tator tots....but not necessarily together. She hopes one day to save someone's life because then she can have a lifelong helper whenever she decides to move and she won't have to feel guilty about it. Her mother thinks Tova's the best person ever, but it wouldn't kill her to wear a little more makeup and maybe to let her hair grow a little longer.

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©Margie Culbertson

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