Guest Guru: Alisa Singer – My Mother and I Can Argue About Anything

My mother and I can argue about anything

Article and illustrations by Alisa Singer

She was complaining one day about the fact that, after drying her clothes with sheets of fabric softener, her cotton tops started to develop holes.

Mom: “In all my years of doing laundry I never saw anything like it. So I called the 800 number on the box and complained. They said they would register my complaint. Big deal. Did you ever read the box? It has all kinds of warnings about hazards to pets and kids and flame resistance. Go get a box and I’ll show you.”

[I, playing on this occasion the role of dutiful daughter, shuffle off to the laundry room and return with a box of fabric softener. I read the box.]

Me: “Mom, how many sheets do you use?”

Mom: “Oh, I throw in 3 or 4.”

Me: “But it clearly says on the box to use only one.”

Mom: “But I use 3 or 4 because I reuse them, so it’s okay.”

Me: “But it says on the box to use each sheet once and throw it away.”

Mom: “Who reads the box? Such a simple thing like fabric softener. They
should tell you that it will make holes in the fabric.”

Me: “But you didn’t use the product right – you abused it. You used 3 or 4 times the recommended number and you reused them. You ignored everything they put
on the box!”

Mom: “They should tell you that if you use too much you’ll get holes in your clothes.”

Me: “But even if they said on the box ‘if you disregard all of our instructions you might get holes in your clothes’ it wouldn’t matter because you still wouldn’t read the box. Do you think they need to include a recorded message?”

Mom: “But don’t you think they should tell you about the holes?”…

Like I said, my mother and I can argue about anything.

Alisa Singer’s humorous essays have appeared in a variety of print and online newspapers and magazines across the country and in Canada. You can learn more about her work by visiting her website: or contacting her at