Mom’s Favorite Hobby

Aug 23

Mom’s Favorite Hobby

My mom has one hobby that we know of, and that is the planting, growing, picking, and selling of hot peppers. She complains about it so much that for the longest time I thought she hated growing peppers, but then one day it dawned on me that, despite her constant complaints and belly aching, she actually loves doing it. Don’t let the constant “Mommy break back in field allllll day long picking damn pepper!” moanings fool you — she loves that shit.

Mom can tell you how much a bunch of peppers weigh just by looking at it. It’s Korean cocaine, and she’s Scarface. She packs her van full of peppers and sells them in pre-arranged deals to other Koreans, making the exchange of peppers and cash in the back rooms of Asian food marts and Korean churches. Buyers will often sample a pepper or two as Mom describes their potency in Korean while my siblings and I look on, wondering if we’re witnessing the rise of a five-foot tall buttless warlord. Shrewd and matter-of-fact (and most likely the only pepper dealer in all of Michigan), she always gets her price, oftentimes with a throw-in of kimchi or some sort of Korean rice beverage.

A recent pepper deal going down in a parking lot. That's my mom in the striped visor and Jeep shirt. She dresses like that to blend in, much like Denzel Washington in American Gangster.

Here’s a story to give you an idea of exactly how much my mom loves growing hot peppers. When I visited Mom last October, I told her that I had signed up to do an Ironman, an endurance triathlon that would require months of training and dedication.

Me: “It’s a big event and I’m going to have to train really hard to do it.”


Me: “…so, uh, it would mean a lot to me if you could come out and watch.”

Poker face.

Me: “……..I, uh, could really use the support. The race is in a really pretty area, too, so you could go wine tasting or spend time on the lake, or…”

Mom: “When is race?”

At this point I thought, “Oh good, she’s taken an interest in something that’s really important to me, and she’ll come out and support her daughter!”

Me: “It’s at the end of August.”

Mom: “No good. Pepper season.”

Me: “Wha–what?” I stared at her, dumbfounded.

Mom: “I can’t go, it’s pepper season! You move race to November.”

Me: “What?! I can’t…” I searched for words, any words, to try and make my mom understand. “I can’t move the date, Mom. It’s not something I’ve randomly decided to do. It’s a huge race that over a thousand people sign up for, and it takes a ton of planning!”

Mom: “Well I grow peppers July to October. August no good…” She narrows her eyes and looks at me. “…in fact, your visit this year bad timing too.”

I just stared at her, my mouth agape. Not only was I getting pepper-blocked next August, she was telling me that I shouldn’t have flown out to visit for the trip I was currently on because she was too busy with her peppers. That’s my mom for you — giving precedence to growing peppers over her children. Harsh-but-funny is how she rolls.


  1. As a fellow gardener and vegetable grower, I completely understand. Still funny as hell though.

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