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There’s only one Erma Bombeck

Any woman who writes humor will eventually be compared to Erma Bombeck. Let me be clear: there was only one Erma Bombeck. Just like there was only one Johnny Carson.

​Sure, I’ve been compared to Erma. Most of those who have introduced me when I spoke to this group or that often made the comparison. It was embarrassing.

They were expecting Erma and they got stuck with me. My mother placed great significance on the fact that my first newspaper humor column appeared on April 22, 1996, the very day that Erma died. But that column had been written a couple of months before it was printed, so Erma’s talented spirit had nothing to do with it. The column was titled “Spending money on weight loss only makes wallet thinner.” If you’d like to read my first column, click here.

Life just seems to hit me over the head with funny incidents I encounter in my daily life, and it would be foolish not to record them. I do think my Jest for Grins columns improved over the years. Take, for example, one entitled “Plea to roadkill: stay on the road!” that was written 10 years later when I hit a huge owl and unknowingly drove it all over town. Click here if you’d like to read that one.

I hit the owl after I had earlier hit a chicken. You know the old joke about why the chicken crossed the road? My favorite answer to that question is “To show the possum it could be done.”

But the chicken I hit couldn’t teach the possum anything. It stood by the side of the road watching me drive down the highway toward it at 55 miles an hour, then launched into the air right in front of me, failing to gain altitude. I think it had a death wish. You may read “Why, oh why, did that chicken cross the road?” Click here if you wish. Then there was the squirrel I tried, but failed, to straddle. Poor little guy, he went left, then right, then left. I ended that column with the hope that Squirrel Heaven was long on nut trees and short on automobiles.

Come to think of it, I don’t recall Erma ever writing about being a serial killer of critters. If she never hit a critter and left it as roadkill, she was fortunate; if she did hit one, she was smart enough to not write about it. And that’s just one of the differences between Erma and me.

So, dear Erma, there will never be another like you. I hope you rest in peace. And I hope all the critters I unintentionally manslaughtered do as well.

— Marsha Henry Goff

Marsha Henry Goff is rich in family and friends who provide much material for her columns and website postings on Fortunately, they believe — as does she — that life, though serious, should not be taken too seriously. She has written nine books, including two compilations of humor columns, six histories and Everything I Know about Medicine, I learned on the Wrong Side of the Stethoscope.

Reflections of Erma