Posts Tagged With: fiction

The Klone and I: Chapter Five

Previously on: Peter has sent his clone (really, an android) to keep Stephanie company. Stephanie gets drunk and then faints.

Chapter Five:

Stephanie wakes up and has a hangover. “It must have been the champagne.” Right. And not whatever you were drinking at dinner with your kids. Then comes this lovely sentiment:

Paul came in and offered to help me shave my legs.

Now, maybe I’m prudish, but the thought of a man shaving my legs for me at any point other than physical handicap or late-term pregnancy (and in both cases it would have to be a very special occasion for me to bother). So, this whole thing just icks me out.

“No, thanks, I can do it myself.” He sat down on the toilet seat next to me then, with a fresh glass of champagne in his hand, while I wondered if I should just forget about my legs, andslit my wrists instead.

Uh, why is she contemplating suicide? Because he’s watching her bathe? Or because your boyfriend is a mad scientist who has sent his freakish monster to stay with you? Either way, I don’t think suicide is the answer. And to toss it around so lightly shows some mental instability…

After the shower, she makes breakfast. Her daughter comes out in her school outfit:

She appeared late, as usual, straightening the much-too-short skirt she was wearing and fiddling with her hair. She was wearing a necklace that looked like a stop sign but said SEXY, and my favorite pair of high heels. And I sent her back to change into the Adidas she usually wore to school.

So, everything else about that outfit is kosher, but because she’s wearing Stephanie’s “favorite pair of high heels” that’s what she has to change. If I had walked out of my room wearing that for any occasion, let alone school, I would have been told to go back and change from head to toe. Of course the clone/android is not the best role model. He appears in the following getup:

a one piece leopard spandex jumpsuit, with a skintight T-shirt in an almost electric hot pink, with matching shoes.

This was one of the first images to come up in Google Images when searching for “mens leopard jumpsuit”. This is how I’ll imagine him for the rest of the chapter.

After the kids get off to school, Stephanie and Paul have some rather boring sexytimes. Afterwards they’re in the bathtub together (which must mean that Paul has amazingly waterproof out layer). The phone rings and this lovely exchange occurs:

“You should answer the phone. It might be the kids.”
“What kids?”
“Yours.”
I couldn’t have remembered their names at that point if he asked me.

Now, I know I’ve pointed out several times that Stephanie is not the world’s greatest mother, but this is seriously ridiculous. Mothers (and fathers) out there: Have you ever been so overwhelmed by the awesomeness of sexytimes that you not only forget you have kids but when reminded of them, you can’t remember their names? Let me know in the comments.

Anyway, of course, it’s Peter on the phone. At this point I should mention that Stephanie still doesn’t understand that Paul is actually a clone/android/monstrosity. She thinks its Peter pulling a prank. So, when she hears him on the phone she thinks its a recording he’s worked up to some how fool her (which realistically wouldn’t be hard). Thus she tries to give non-traditional responses to stump the recording. And so we get this nonsense:

“How are you, Steph?”
“Pretty sexy,” was my answer, instead of “fine.”
“What does that mean?” he asked. Another standard response to anything I might have said.
“I’m just lying here in the bathtub. We’ve been making love all afternoon.” There was a moment’s pause, which made me smile. He had obviously left a space in the recording, which was clever of him.
“He’s bionic, Steph. He’s not real. He’s entirely man-made, synthetic from head to toe, and he doesn’t mean a thing he says. And whatever he does, it’s strictly a mechanical performance.”

I have to things to say to this: First of all: Remember back last chapter when Paul said he could get Stephanie pregnant if she wanted? Well, in all their sexytimes they certainly aren’t using protection, so hopefully that’s an added feature that has to be manually enabled and not a standard function (yes, I’m thinking way to much about the mechanics of android sex). Second, if Paul is synthetic and entirely man-made (though, technically, aren’t we all?) then he is not a clone. He is an android. This bothers me more than I can convey via text. Actually, as a picture is worth a thousand words and all, here’s a visual of what I’m doing constantly while reading this book:

If you’ve got a theme, stick with it I say.

Stephanie finally realizes that Peter is on the phone and it’s not a recording (takes way longer than it should). Peter tries to further explain what exactly Paul is:

“He is. They cloned me. Actually he’s a hybrid of sorts, a clone tempered by bionics.”

Damn it, Danielle Steel! Make up your mind. Is he a clone or an android? You cannot have it both ways. Either he is a living being with your identical genetic structure (clone) or he is a machine that resembles you and has been programmed to be similar to you (android). There is no such thing. Eff this book.

Peter tells Stephanie not to have sexytimes with Paul anymore. Stephanie’s response:

With a body like his, and Paul’s, what did he expect? Mother Theresa couldn’t have resisted him.

Uh, I bet she could. I like to think that Mother Theresa wouldn’t have been this shallow/superficial to begin with, but also, seeing as she lived a long and (I’m guessing) sex-free life, she was obviously very committed to her beliefs. And the fact that Stephanie is now blatantly cheating on her boyfriend with a monstrosity that defies explanation and is rationalizing makes me slightly sick.

The rest of the chapter is pretty boring. Except for this gem:

[Paul] had already had two bottles of [champagne] at ’21’, but he insisted that his wiring was so good, it wouldn’t affect him, although he had already admitted that it had affected his memory the night before. But he said that he was able to drink all night, and never feel it. In fact he seemed to prefer alcohol to food. Clearly a glitch in his system.

No. No. No! NO! He does not require food or drink. He probably needs a battery replacement or to recharge at some point, but unless he’s using the ethyl alcohol in the booze to fuel his mechanical systems (unlikely) he shouldn’t need any of it. And it shouldn’t affect him at all.

I’ll just leave this here.

I’ll try to have another recap for Wednesday, but this is going to be a busy week so I make no promises.

Happy Reading!
– K

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The Klone and I: Chapter Four

Previously On The Klone and I: Stephanie and Peter finally do it! Peter is leaving on a long business trip to LA and has promised Stephanie a “surprise”.

Chapter Four

It was an odd feeling after he left. I had gotten strangely used to him in the short time we’d been together. it had all the elements of a fabulous romance, and yet there was a comfort level, and an ease with each other that was almost like being married.

Ah, we start off so well. Talking about how close you are after only knowing the man for several weeks.

He had won Sam over weeks before, but Charlotte was continuing to glower. She still attributed the worst motives possible to him.

The best part of this is that our own narrator once referred to Peter as a probable “sicko”, so chastising someone else for thinking he’s up to no good is a bit hypocritical, no? Plus, I think we’ve established that the 13 year old Charlotte is much more mature than her mother.

There’s a knock at the door. Stephanie opens it to who she thinks is Peter wearing outrageous clothing, specifically “fluorescent green satin pants, skin-tight and startlingly revealing, with a see-through black net shirt, with a little sparkle to it, and a pair of black satin cowboy boots” which sounds like just about the most hideous thing ever. Now, Stephanie is in the kitchen and the kids are in their rooms. And even though we are only told that they “disappeared” to their rooms moments ago, she knows without checking that they are “doing their homework” which seems awfully presumptuous. When I was a kid that was the last thing I would be doing in my room, but I was a strange child.

However, Stephanie reminds us that:

I hadn’t met many of [Peter’s] friends yet. It was still too soon.

Right. So, after over a month its too soon to meet his friends but you introduced him to your children after 2 days. That makes loads of sense, right? And this doesn’t bother her either. Because Peter is perfect and couldn’t possibly have ulterior motives.

I’m the surprise,” he said proudly, “and the secret. They cloned him.”

So, this person who has shown up at the door is Peter’s clone. Peter sent his effing clone to his girlfriend’s house while he’s on a business trip. Yeah… They talk about it for a while and basically Stephanie thinks she’s going crazy and Peter is playing some trick on her.

But now we have to have a little vocabulary lesson:

Clone: A group of organisms or cells produced asexually from one ancestor or stock, to which they are genetically identical.

Android: (in science fiction) A robot with a human appearance.

Remember this. It will be important for the rest of the book. I firmly believe that Danielle Steel did absolutely no research into science (or science fiction) before righting this book and has confused these two concepts.

Paul (the clone, excuse me, Klone) is talking about why he doesn’t dress the same as Peter.

“My name is Paul, and I can do everything he does . . . except,” he looked apologetic, “wear khakis. I can’t stand them. He tried programming me for that at first, but it kept screwing up my systems.”

He keeps explaining himself to Stephanie, including all of his… functions.

“You know, if you want to get pregnant, Steph, it’s probably easier for me than for him. They worked all the kinks out of that last year.”

Right. So, here goes the first of probably many rants about the confused science of this godawful book. A clone does NOT have programming or systems. That is an android. A clone does not have “kinks” worked out unless they go to a masseuse. You remember Dolly the sheep, right? Well, if you would have cut her open, instead of finding a motherboard you would have found lamb chops. Cloning ≠ Android.

Not to mention it’s really f-ed up that he offers to get her pregnant. Or the fact that her boyfriend is sick enough to send her this monstrosity while he’s away on business. But that’s small potatoes compared to the Clone/Android mixup (especially since she uses the egregious word Klone in the very title).

This is how I’m picturing Peter/Paul from now on.

Paul assures Stephanie that the kids will “get used to me”. Right. Because that’s a totally normal thing. But Charlotte offers us even more insight into her mother’s parenting style.

“I bought a shirt like that once. Mom made me take it back. She said I looked like a slut in it.”

Okay. It’s one thing for a mother to think this but a completely different thing to say it out loud. Parents, I know I don’t have any experience in this, but listen to me. DO NOT tell your 13 year old daughter she looks like a slut (even if she does). It does not do good things for the self-esteem and self-image, especially to an already, presumably, self-conscious pubescent teenage girl.

Stephanie’s reaction to all of this is to drink herself under the table. “I was drunk halfway through dinner”. Now, this is in front of her kids on a school night. Which seems totally responsible, right?

Anyway, they make it through dinner okay. Paul helps Charlotte with her homework. Everybody goes to their respective rooms. And now Paul wants sexytimes with Stephanie. So, he lights some candles and cracks open some champagne. And of course, Stephanie doesn’t turn the booze down. “I was drinking the champagne by then. I wasn’t about to waste good champagne, and it was the only way to cope with what had happened.” What had happened was she thinks her boyfriend is pulling a trick on her. See, she doesn’t believe Paul is a clone (I absolutely refuse to call him a Klone, besides, we’ve already discussed that he’s actually an android). She thinks Peter is playing some sort of game. So, instead of throwing him out and telling him to grow up, she lets him spend alone time with her kids and drinks to cope.

And then Paul really creeps me the eff out. When talking about how the kids seemed to be okay with him being there, he mentions that “Sam even asked me to sleep in his room”. Remember: nobody in the family has known him for much more than a month. Peter has never spent the night while the kids were in the house. Her 8 year old son just offered to let a virtual stranger sleep in his room and the “clone” spent an hour in Charlotte’s room “helping her with her homework” (the quotes are mine. As far as I know, there is no actual child molestation in this book, though Stephanie makes jokes about it frequently. But the opportunity was there and as Peter is setting himself up to be a creeper I wouldn’t have put it past his clone, especially as his clone is a horny bastard).

[Paul] locked the door quietly, and as he slipped off the ghastly green pants, I almost felt as though I recognized him again, until I saw the gold lamé jockeys he was wearing, if  you could call them jockeys. It looked more like a Speedo, and the gold was more than a little amazing.

First of all, I have never in my life called them jockeys. Second, I know this book was written in the 90s, but why does his wardrobe have to be so ungodly atrocious? If any man every came to my bed wearing a gold G-string (she figures this out just after this paragraph), there will be no sexytimes with me until he finds himself a pair of real underwear.

As they’re getting their funk on, the phone rings. On the other end is Peter, which really freaks Stephanie the eff out. So much so that:

The room spun around as I listened to him, and I looked at Paul, and unable to withstand any more, I closed my eyes, and fainted.

And that’s the end of this mercifully short chapter. She faints because she has absolutely zero coping skills. And Danielle Steel has never read a single science fiction novel or seen a single episode of Star Trek.

This is how I picture Paul. Would you let this man around your children?

 

Hopefully I’ll have another chapter up this afternoon.

Happy Reading!
-K

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My Top 5 Best Beach Reads

With the 4th of July coming up, the official beginning of summer, and lovely weather here in Northern Illinois, I thought I would share my picks for best beach reads.

1. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
This is an adorable book that covers some sadness with humor and grace. The story is told through letters and telegrams, which makes it easy to stop and then pick it back up. A young female author is living in post-WWII London when she is contacted by a gentleman living on Guernsey. He has received a book she once owned and was wondering about others like it. This correspondence grows into a friendship and reveals a tale of daring, friendship, and community spirit.

2. Lamb, The Gospel According to Biff by Christopher Moore
I will warn this is not for people who take Christianity literally or very seriously. This book is a hilarious reinterpretation of Christ’s childhood as recounted by his best friend Biff. It is riotously funny, especially if you have some background in New Testament theology. I won’t spoil any more of it, it’s too good to be ruined.

3. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
This is the inspiring, delightful tale of a young boy’s quest for a buried treasure. Along the way he meets an old shopkeeper, travels by caravan across the Sahara, and finds his life’s destiny. It’s short and an easy read but enthralling and warm hearted. Even if you aren’t planning a beach trip this summer, read this book. You won’t regret it.

4. Austenland by Shannon Hale
For all you Jane Austen lovers! A young woman who is obsessed with a certain Mr. Darcy finds herself on an all expenses paid vacation to England. She arrives at a resort which caters to Austen fans. She must dress and act like a young woman of Georgian England. At first she thinks this will be the best two weeks of her life, until all goes horribly awry. This book is charming and whimsical. And perfect for those with their own Darcy obsession.

5. A Caribbean Mystery by Agatha Christie
Miss Marple goes on holiday to the Caribbean. And as is the case with all Miss Marple stories, murder has followed her there. Armed with a life’s worth of experiences and a sharp eye, Miss Marple takes on the case and saves the day. What could be better than a little mystery and intrigue while spending a day in the sand and surf?

What are some of your favorite books to read at the beach? Leave suggestions in the comment!

Have a great weekend!
– K

P.S. I will not be able to get another The Klone and I recap up today. But I’ll try and do a double recap on Monday!

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The Klone and I: Chapter Three (Part Two)

Picking right back up where we left off, the babysitter is awake and on her way home and the narrator (Stephanie)’s beau (Peter) has left as well. Now Stephanie is unwisely talking to her children about her new boyfriend.

Resuming Chapter Three…

Stephanie’s 13 year old daughter is chastising her for her choice in men. Stephanie asks her “How can you be so cynical at your age?” and then muses “Maybe I had spoken a little too freely about Roger. But then again, he deserved it.” Roger, the children’s father, definitely does NOT deserve to be badmouthed to his children. No matter what he’s done, it’s not right for a mother to speak “too freely” about her anger towards her ex husband.

This next passage needs to be transcribed in its entirety:

“Is he gay?” Sam asked with interest. He had just learned the word, and a rather broad sense of its meaning, and used it at every opportunity, but I assured him I didn’t think so.

“He might be,” Charlotte offered helpfully. “Maybe that’s why his wife left him.” It was like listening to my mother.

So, her children are questioning the sexuality of her new boyfriend and her only thought is that it “was like listening to my mother”? There’s something horribly wrong about that. Of course, as we’ve seen before, Charlotte at age 13 seems to be more responsible and emotionally mature than her 40 year old mother. And no, in case you’re wondering, neither are reprimanded for being so rude about someone they don’t know.

The conversation continues. Stephanie tells the kids the family is playing tennis with Peter in the morning. Charlotte, like most teenagers, objects and refuses to go (bear in mind this is after midnight, so Charlotte’s probably overly tired and emotional anyway). Stephanie reacts to this defiance thusly: “I thought about strangling her, stopped only by my deep phobia about prison”. First of all, if she’s getting violent at this little bit of resistance, Charlotte and Sam’s teenage years are going to be exceedingly difficult for her. Secondly, it should not be a fear of going to prison that stops you from abusing your child, it should be your morality and love for your child that stops you. This woman is absolutely vile.

There’s another nightgown reference, Stephanie wins the argument and the kids both go for tennis, and Stephanie shows a strange fascination with men’s legs (something I don’t really understand. Butts, chests, arms: sure. But are men’s legs inherently sexy??)

Peter and Sam are on one team while Stephanie and Charlotte are on the other. Apparently Charlotte, age 13, is playing relentlessly and she “creamed” Peter who is in his 50s. The plausibility of this is not something I want to dwell on, nor the awkward usage of the verb “creamed”. At the end of the game, Stephanie thinks, “I was surprised that Peter didn’t hit her with his racket, or try to kill her”. So, this woman truly expected her boyfriend to react violently toward a 13 year old girl after losing at a tennis game? Why is child abuse mentioned so casually in this book?

Peter begins to show a creepiness that will follow him for a while, as after having known Stephanie’s 8 year old son for the length of a tennis game says, “I’m falling in love with Sam, though”. This seems all sorts of wrong for me, especially considering Stephanie barely knows the man and has not met anyone else who knows Peter and could vouch for him. This man, who she once  called a “sicko” has just told her he’s falling in love with her young son, and her first thought is “And I loved [Peter] for it”. I am seriously unable to deal with the level of harm in which this woman puts her children.

Stephanie makes a deep thought later that Peter “Definitely didn’t fit the profile of the men I’d been dating. He was human”. Well, I would certainly hope so. But I’m guessing she’s referring to her stupid lion metaphor that we discussed earlier.

Some time later, she’s discussing her relationship with Charlotte. That’s where we find this gem:

“I know you’re going to do it with him, Mom,” she accused finally, at the end of August, and I was beginning to think she was right. As usual, her extrasensory perception was fully operative. We had gotten a little carried away that night when we left the restaurant, and engaged in some serious groping. But fortunately,, we had both come to our senses. Charlotte should have been proud of me, instead of looking at me outraged.

Repeat after me: You should not be seeking approval from your 13 year old daughter. You should also probably not be discussing  your sex life with her. I’m all for having an open dialogue with your children about sex and answering all their questions. But I question the wisdom of talking about the sex you are or are not having with a man you’ve been seeing for around a month with your impressionable pubescent (and therefore hormonal/horny) teenage daughter.

During this conversation, her 8 year old son Sam comes out to the kitchn. “Sam asked again, helping himself to a Dr. Pepper. It was late, but he said he’d had a nightmare”. I’m not against kids drinking soda. I drank plenty of it in my youth. However, not a drink that has caffeine in the middle of the night when I should be sleeping. I also had to ask for soda at that age (the “Sam asked again” in the quote is asking about what they’re talking about not if he could have a can of soda). And if he had a nightmare, he should not be seeking comfort from sugar. Again, I am not a parent, I simply had the privilege of having two awesome parents.

Later while the kids are spending Labor Day weekend with their father, Peter basically propositions Stephanie. Her thought process? “I reminded myself that I was an adult, and Charlotte would know nothing about it”. Really? The reason you say yes is that  your daughter won’t have to know? Does this sound like Stephanie is more of a teenager than her daughter to you, or is it just me? Anyway, she meets Peter on the fateful night wearing “pink jeans and a pink shirt, and a new pair of pink espadrilles”. Now, I’m no fashionista, but that outfit sounds like an absolute eyesore. First of all, all pink? Like old women who wear matching tops and bottoms? Secondly, where does one find pink jeans? And why would you buy them? But even if you had pink jeans, I think they would look much better with a white shirt and white shoes rather than going all matchy-matchy.

So, she and Peter start getting hot and heavy. We’re 75 pages into this ROMANCE NOVEL and we’re finally treated to the first sex scene, copied verbatim below:

“After he set the bottle of red wine down on the table somewhere behind us, and somehow at that point, I lost track of the groceries, and he began to slowly unwind what I was wearing like so much cotton candy. And seemingly effortlessly, our clothes vanished in a path of pink and white and blue and khaki, and the next thing I knew, we were lying on my bed naked, as the sun went down slowly over the ocean, and I was breathless.”

75 pages for an unsexy, vague 1.5 sentences. What a let down. I hope Stephanie enjoyed that more than I did. Of course, immediately after sexing the man, this is her thought “I wanted this man, never trusted anyone as much”. Stephanie, listen to me: You barely know this man. You have met ZERO of his friends and family. You have only known him a month, most of the time you were with your children (which, as I said, I find appalling). If you are this wholly trusting after such a short time, I worry about you. But, to each their own, I suppose.

The pair are hungry and decide to have a midnight snack. They decide to have “an omelette instead, which Peter cooked to perfection, with ham and cheese, and the salad he had brought to make for dinner. He was right. He was a terrific cook”. He made an omelette and a salad. I can barely feed myself on a regular basis and have almost killed myself with undercooked chicken, but I can cook a damn omelette and make a salad. Call me when he can make something slightly more complicated, like spaghetti or soup or Duck a l’orange.

After their snack we are treated to Stephanie’s inner monologue about how much she lurves Peter. “t was embarrassing to be head over heels for a guy I’d known for less than two months”. Actually she’s known him for barely a month. It’s Labor Day weekend (The first weekend in September and she met him the last weekend of July… So a month and change) And then she informs us “I was a grown-up”. Then start acting like it! If you can’t tell, this woman drives me batty.

Before the end of the weekend, “he told me he loved me, and I told him i loved him too”. Now, personally, I think it’s a little soon for that. But this is one aspect I won’t judge her too harshly on. However, a few sentences later we come to: “He’d said he loved me. But what did that mean?” Excuse me? Do you not understand the concept of love? Could this explain so many of your relationship problems? And if you don’t understand what love means should you be telling someone that you love them? Some things to think about because this is the end of the chapter.

Hopefully I’ll have Chapter Four up for Friday.

Happy Reading!
-K

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Finding Time To Read

It used to be so easy. When I was younger, I would read all day long. During class, after school, at mealtimes, before bed. I would stay up late into the night engrossed in a book. I was never too tired or too busy to read. Now, I work a full time job, have a house to maintain, have to cook for myself, and am tired at the end of the day. This week has been especially hard as I’m expected to be at evening events for work. So, at the end of a long day, I come home and I want to relax and read, but I’m simply to tired to focus. It doesn’t help that the book I’m currently reading (“Guernica” by Dave Boling) is interesting, but not especially engrossing. I want to find out what happens next, but not enough to stay up an extra hour and force myself to concentrate.

So, how do you find time to read in your busy life? Do you have any suggestions for me?

 

Thanks,

-K

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Best Mothers In Literature

Mother’s Day is this Sunday (reminder for all of you who haven’t gotten your mother’s anything yet). So, I’m listing my designation for 5 Best Literary Mothers.

1. Molly Weasley (Harry Potter)
Molly Weasley is the epitome of the great mom. She has a loving heart, open arms, and great cooking. She also opens her house and her heart to the orphaned Harry, which makes my heart melt. Plus, in Deathly Hallows, her infamous “Not my daughter, you bitch!” is so kick-ass it needs no further explanation.

 

 

2. Caroline Ingalls (Little House on the Prairie)
Another classic mother who bears little explanation. Apart from being a traditional maternal figure, she also managed a household in the middle of nowhere frontier. And I give her a lot of credit for that, it certainly couldn’t have been easy.

 

3. Juliet Ashton (Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society)
If you haven’t read this book yet, I suggest you do. It’s an adorable book about an amazing group of people dealing with a heart breaking situation. Juliet is not motherly in the traditional sense. But she becomes a maternal figure for a little orphaned girl. The interaction between Juliet and the little girl is what puts her on this list, its innocent and precious.

4. Sarah (Little Bee)
Another book you should pick up immediately if you haven’t read it yet. Sarah definitely has her imperfections and indiscretions but that is what makes her so realistic and human. The fact that she is willing to go to the ends of the earth (literally) for a young girl she barely knows, shows off her motherly affection.

5. Mrs. Bennet (Pride and Prejudice)
Okay, so Mrs. Bennet is not a very good mother in the strictest of terms. But she is certainly memorable. And, at least in my case, she reminds me all too much of my own mother sometimes. She obviously loves her daughters, she just has an odd way of showing it.

One final thought, as I was thinking up this list, I realized how many of my favorite books have indifferent or non-existent mothers. It seems that if if you want a complex character, you give them a dysfunctional relationship with their mother. Perhaps Freud had a profound effect not on psychology but on literature.

Who are some of your favorite Moms in Literature? Are you doing anything special for you mom this Sunday?

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