Thursday Morning Quickie #24

[Note: The following text was taken verbatim from the M Men-Gleaner Manual, “Love, Marriage, and You” used in 1956-1957. Previous entries in this series can be found here.]

Lesson 25

Enhancing Family Solidarity

Tom and Jane had been married three years and were getting along very well in most respects. They had had a successful courtship and engagement and had married when he was twenty-four and she was twenty. After their marriage he had gone to school for two years and she had worked as a stenographer. Now they were settled down and were starting to establish a family of their own. Both Tom and Jane had a good sense of humor which often cushioned bumps that came along. One day Tom’s mother-in-law was visiting in his home. She had spent the day sewing with Jane. When Tom came home from work he talked to them in a jovial manner and then went to the refrigerator where he spied homemade ice cream in a tray. The kitchen was adjacent to the front room where Jane and her mother were sewing and knitting. Tom in a playful mood picked up the tray of ice cream and told them, “Here is something good for you,” as he motioned the tray in their direction. Lo and behold someone had pulled the plug from the refrigerator and the contents of the tray sprayed all over the stove, splashed on a bushel of apples and even spotted the front room rug. A few splashes settled on the clothes of Jane and her mother. There was a silent pause for about two seconds and then all three of them broke into a spontaneous laugh. Although it took nearly an hour to clean things up, this incident brought all three of them closer together. Some couples might have been seriously upset at such an incident; these persons used it to definite advantage. In fact, they often reminisce with considerable enjoyment about the whole affair.

Quickie Questions

1. Did the couple handle this situation in the proper way?
2. Do you think a sense of humor is important in getting along with people? Why or why not?


  1. StillConfused says:

    I can’t say I really understand the logistics of what happened with the refrigerator. But I think the main problem here is that icecream should be in the freezer, not the frig. So this was a tragedy just waiting to happen.

  2. No mention of food-storage wheat?
    I don’t buy it.

  3. If you’ve followed these last 4 entries, you probably understand why I forgot about them–they were all kind of lame. I used all the fun entries up early on.

  4. I think Tom orchestrated the whole thing that morning by unplugging the refrigerator and deliberately spilling the ice cream over his wife and mother-in-law. However, he was hoping for a different response. Something along the lines of: “Oh no, our clothes are all covered in ice cream. I guess we’ll have to take them off”. bow chicka wow wow

  5. I’m glad Tom can settle down now after the tumult of two whole years at school — and Jane, too, with that wild child stenographic career. It’s about time they settled down and got respectable, don’t you think?

  6. Last Lemming says:

    Lo and behold someone had pulled the plug from the refrigerator

    I hate when that happens.

  7. So, Tom and Jane were the characters’ initial names before Carl Reiner settled on Rob and Laura?

  8. Did they handle it well? Certainly, except for that unplugging of the frig (lo and behold).

  9. Jessie T. says:

    The incident later sparked much shouting and finger pointing after they realized that hundreds of dollars worth of high-end meat, cheese, vegetables, condiments, and dairy products had been ruined in the now-warm fridge. Old arguments were brought up and deeper issues between the three surfaced.
    Jane and her mother quietly left the next morning. After months of phone calls and awkward visits in public places, Tom and Jane decided to “pull the plug” on a relationship all but destroyed by a refrigerator.

  10. Steve Evans says:

    Tom is a real sonofabitch. I hate him with all the fury I can muster.

  11. Upon mature consideration, I have concluded that all this laughter is a cover story concocted for the police and the neighbors who called them after hearing hysterical shrieks coming from the Tom-and-Jane residence. Everyone knows you can’t make good ice cream by pouring the liquid mixture into a tray and freezing it. You have to stir or whip it periodically to beat the air into it to make it fluffy. Obviously Jane and Tom’s mother-in-law (why don’t they call her Jane’s mother, by the way?) have been too busy gossiping over their sewing to stir the freezing cream properly, or they would have noticed the warm fridge hours ago. Tom, who has been looking forward to ice cream all day, as is his patriarchal right, discovered their slovenliness and engaged in much righteous shouting, provoking said hysterical shrieks and a visit from the police, with the ensuing cover up. “It was laughter, officer, really.”

  12. Steve Evans says:

    I found the video re-enactment of the anecdote:

    Warning: the language in that clip is definitely NOT CES approved.

  13. observer fka eric s says:

    Too much light mindedness and loud laughter in that home. How dare he be flippant with respect to what is a treat for the girls.

  14. “Here is something good for you”? What the? Did they really talk like that in the 50s? Was that how you called someone fat? I don’t even get the joke he was trying to make.

    Seriously, the good old days creep me out to no end.

  15. Shannon says:

    I think the Internet is my favorite part of church right now. Love the comments so far.

    But, the main point of this old lesson is one I have learned– that anger (usually my own, unfortunately) almost never improves things, no matter how justified or satisfying it feels in the moment.

  16. Elouise says:

    Folks, what is the meta-message here? Can we talk about not being in touch with one’s motivations? There’re lots of questions to ask
    besides the rhetorical one on the value of humor.

    One day the MIL came to HIS home? HIS home??
    First clue.

    “Lo and behold, SOMEONE had unplugged the fridge.” Ho-ho,and who might that BE? You can leave a light on unintentionally; you can leave the butter out unintentionally, but unplug the fridge unintentionally?? I don’t think so. Second clue.

    “They often reminisce about the whole affair.”
    I’m sure they do, but I’ll bet each story makes a different point, one each about men, wives, and mothers-in-law. (Not even men, WOMEN, and mothers-in-law, this tale coming as it does from the Fifties.)

    And just for the family historian: Earlette never made ice cream again as long as Dwayne lived.

    (I have trouble unplugging the F. intentionally. It is wedged with difficulty into its special niches,
    with the outlet behind the bruiser.) Second clue.

  17. Stephanie says:

    Re 3: yeah, lame.

  18. Elouise says:

    (Sorry–the story excited me to such a state that the parenthesis about my fridge flew clean out of order and splattered all over the end. I had a good laugh. sorry if any got on you.)

  19. Stephanie says:

    All I can say is I am so glad I was not a woman in 1956.

  20. Jacob M says:

    Question: Who did the cleaning?

    Scott B – These are fun, if in a “how can such a bad set-up actually be thought of as illustrating a point” sort of way. That seems to be the running theme, at least for me.

    I also did a double take when the story mentions “his mother-in-law”. What a weird way to put it.

  21. I don’t think the lesson goes nearly far enough, so it just isn’t funny. Why stop with melted ice cream? WWTTSD? (What would the Three Stooges do?)

    Until they get out two dozen eggs and throw them at each other, plus a large container of oatmeal, two quarts of pancake syrup and a 5 lb. bag of flour, it isn’t very funny.

  22. Thomas Parkin says:

    Quite unexpectedly, a meteorite came through the roof and crushed Jane’s mother. There was a few minutes of shock, but then Tom and Jane looked at each other and laughed. It took a couple hours to clean up Jane’s mother. Tom made sure to call some scientists to fetch the meteorite, which was a very fitting thing to do. Fortunately, Jane’s mother’s passing left her home as a place for Tom and Jane to stay, at minimal cost, while their home was put back together again. Throughout the whole ordeal Tom and Jane laughed and, on the whole, were jolly, fun creatures. What does the meteorite suggest about fate and mother-in-laws? Do you think fate helps you get along with others? Why or why not? Do you think having a good sense of humor makes bizarre tragedies more or less likely?

  23. “Although it took nearly an hour to clean things up”

    An hour? I’ve had some bad spills in my day, oh, yes, I have stories, but a three person clean-up that took an hour? There’s something very bad going on. Where is the Father in Law? Is ‘pulled the plug’ some sort of euphemism? This looks like a blood bath to me.

    “In fact, they often reminisce with considerable enjoyment about the whole affair.”

    It looks to me like they got a way with something here that they thought needed doing, but required a significant clean up and the creation of an implausible story after.

  24. None of this would have happened if Tom’s meddling mother-in-law had stayed on her side of the town. Tom knew she was coming, though, and that she was going to make ice cream in the stupidest way possible, so he unplugged the fridge (not the frig, which is a word we utter when mildly put out) before going to work.

    After getting back and finding his meddlesome mother-in-law STILL in his house, he took advantage of her mistakes and purposely dumped the ice cream all over her. Something good for her indeed.

    Jane, understanding that her husband was the man of the house and the one in charge, stood by her man and finally told her mother to butt out and stop asking her when she was going to have a baby.

  25. And then Tom, Jane, and MIL held hands as they hopped over the aquarium that held Tom’s Spined Pygmy Shark.

  26. B.Russ. WTH. You think you can just show up on this thread whenever you feel like it and act like you haven’t ripped a whole in the heart of it with your absence?

  27. Mark B. says:

    If fridge is actually spelled frig, how on earth should we pronounce friggin’?

    Or has that been fridgin’ all along?

  28. If I had to sit behind Tom and Jane in Sacrament meeting, chances are numerous “are they crazy?” would come to mind. Would explain how they got through two years of a family ward and not getting pregnant (possible infertility aside).
    On a side note though: is the author really suggesting that normal couples do not argue/yell/fight/swear when angered? Would explain where we got those whole romanticized view of marriage from…along with Disney of course, can’t forget to blame Mickey Mouse.

  29. *get

  30. Many years ago when I was a young lad my father had a freezer in the backyard which he literally packed with purchases of meat. One day I unplugged it to play my cassette player (that should clue you in as to how long ago) while I was cleaning the backyard but forgot to plug it back in. It wasn’t discovered until several days later and….did I forget to mention we lived in Las Vegas?
    My father had no sense of humor regarding that incident…..
    Guess if he had been a member he would have laughed as he threw all of the meat out into the trash….

  31. 26 – whole?

    Aren’t you the one who deactivates facebook for a month at a time?

    (goll dang, I’m trying to stay active. Don’t revoke my nacle recommend just yet.)

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