My Mom Died and I Found the First Humor Piece I Ever Wrote

See if you can pinpoint the exact moment it goes off the rails.

Bev Potter
4 min readFeb 11, 2024


I’m on a cleaning spree to end all cleaning sprees. Not just my mom’s house — my house, the office, litter along the side of the road. You name it.


The bad thing about living with a hoarder is that they hang on to everything (eight identical pairs of house slippers, tags still on, purchased at the first, and probably last, Super K-Mart in America. Hundreds of used plastic take-out food containers. Enough Ziploc baggies and plastic wrap to last me the rest of my natural life. Five refrigerators — count ’em, five — working and non).

The good thing about living with a hoarder is that they hang on to everything (ooh, that’s where my diplomas got to. I mean, they’re not all in one place — why would they all be in one place? — but at least I found them. They seem… important?).

That’s how I came across both the infamous letter implying I’m adopted (sorry, busy avoiding that whole issue) and also the first humor piece I ever wrote, which was published in 1986 in The Miami Student (I guess that’s the best they could do title-wise), “the Oldest College Newspaper West of the Alleghenies.”

I’m going to take their word on that because I have no idea where the Alleghenies are. Look, I didn’t get a diploma in geography, okay?

I literally just found this five minutes ago and I’m going to read it again for the first time in almost 40 years as I type, so we can go on this cringy journey together.

LIFESTYLES OF THE POOR AND OBSCURE (Oh, man, it’s already bad — and what’s with the giant space in the headline?)

Scene: A yard.

Host: “Hi! I’m Biff Snookums, on location for ‘Lifestyles of the Poor and Obscure.’ Today, we’ll be visiting the depressingly downtrodden suburban retreat of Harvey Feldstein and his wife of questionable virtue, Irma.”

“The Feldsteins have three little monst — um, children: Harvey, Jr., Herb, and Herbette, all of whom are presently enjoying a nice long stay at Camp Shudupayouface. There they will discover the…



Bev Potter

Legal secretary by day, insomniac by night. Ally. BA, MA. Humor, pop culture, and things that make you think. My weekly-ish newsletter is