Amy’s Answering Machine:
Messages From Mom

by Amy Borkowsky
(Pocket, $14.95, G) ISBN 0-7434-2228-7
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I am in my mid-twenties, have lived on my own for several years without incident, and even managed to survive 6 years of college 400 miles away from home. Yet, every time I plan a trip out of town, my mother tells me to be “darn careful.” And when winter hits the Midwest, I can count on a call from mom reminding me to pack emergency supplies in my car and to wear my boots, hat and gloves.

I am also not alone. Amy Borkowsky also has such a mother, the only differences being that hers is Jewish, and leaves hysterical messages on her answering machine. Amy divides her time between stand-up comedy and her work for an ad agency, so mom has developed a knack for leaving her motherly advice on the machine.

“Hello, Amila. Yeah, I don’t know if you heard the latest on the portable stereos, but they’re saying that the foam earpiece on the headphones is a prime breeding ground for bacteria. So if you still insist on walking around with the headphones on, you may wanna take an antibiotic. Okay, hon? Talk to you soon. Bye.”

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. While most people erase their messages, Amy has been hanging on to her mother’s for well over a decade.

“Hello, Amila. It’s me, honey. I know you’re all excited about your trip to Washington, but I wanna remind you that it’s very windy by the Washington Monument, so you may wanna take along a hat. And if you happen to take a tour of the White House, whatever you do, don’t let them leave you alone with the president. So call me before you leave. Bye-bye.”

Laced in with the messages, are cartoons and Amy’s own comments:

“What was my mother thinking? Just how likely did she think it was that President Clinton would be trolling the lines of White House tourists just as I happen to be working my way through, and that, of the hundred of women in the line, he’d single me out to hit on.”

Smart-aleck children of the world unite! We have found out leader!

Amy’s Answering Machine is a quick read that had me laughing out loud during my lunch break. It’s the sort of book that I’d buy for my sisters or pass along to my friends. While $14.95 is kind of steep for a slim volume of 125 pages, it certainly provided this reviewer with peace of mind. My mother is starting to look positively normal.

--Wendy Crutcher


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