The workshop for humor writing, human interest writing, networking and getting published

Erma Bombeck Wrighters' Workshop Banner

Tractor “Friends”

Men have their passions, bless them, but how could a love of tractors lead to a Jennifer Aniston show?

Some men love Chevies. They’ll see every Chevy on the road, quietly noting year, model and the suitability of the person driving it. A Ford man just has to stop and gawk if a Mustang cruises by, while a John Deere enthusiast thrills to the familiar sound of that put-put engine anywhere.

My husband loves red tractors. Particularly International Harvesters – IH, for short.

Drive with him down a busy highway, dodging semi-trailers and pot holes, and Keith will suddenly point to a rusted red heap of metal in a fencerow a hundred yards away and say, “Look at that. A Farmall M.”

Or watch a movie with him, something as far removed from farming as “A Christmas Story.” Did you know there’s a Farmall in that holiday classic? Mm-hm. When Ralphie and his family are watching the town’s Christmas parade, a Farmall H pulls the Santa Claus float. Watch for it. Or come over to our house and Keith will point it out to you. Every time.

And, oh joy, IH made lots of other things, too. IH trucks and IH air conditioners, IH milking equipment and IH belt buckles. Keith has a few of those, and an IH tire gauge, too. He even subscribes to an IH magazine, “Red Power.” Oh, yeah. Feel the iron muscle.

Now, a motors and metal guy like that wouldn’t necessarily be interested in a sit-com like “Friends,” though it helps that one of the co-stars is the gorgeous Jennifer Aniston. I guess that’s what enticed him to watch it, back in its heyday, long enough to notice what was just sitting there in her kitchen for all the world to see, though I bet most of the world missed it: an IH refrigerator.

Yes! Right there on national TV, right there on the set of one of the most popular shows ever. My Keith just about fell out of his recliner one night when he said, “Look at that! An IH fridge!”

“Friends” is a comedy about relationships and being there for each other and all that yucky, sentimental stuff that girls go for, and a lot of the action takes place right there in Jen’s kitchen. Keith just loves it.

— Cindy O. Herman

Cindy O. Herman lives and writes near her husband’s family farm in Central Pennsylvania, where she has been brainwashed into liking only RED tractors. This humorous essay, written for her weekly column in The Daily Item (Sunbury, Pa.), received first place in the 2012 Keystone Press Awards.

School closings and delays

Cindy Argiento Wintertime is the time for school closings and delays. The weatherman predicted snow overnight. DOT crews were reported to be preparing, which makes me laugh because what they really mean is they pray (really hard) that it doesn’t snow. Where I live everything shuts down when it snows. Even the plows get confused and stay huddled inside. One snowflake and everything comes to a grinding halt.

We got our ‘school is delayed 2 hours’ phone call at 5:30 a.m. It boggles the mind to think they wake us up to let us know school’s delayed and we can sleep an extra two hours, but I never do fall back to sleep. I want to wrap my hands around the genius who invented this program.

Remember the olden days when we found out the distressing news by reading the crawl at the bottom of the television screen. As I read the list of closings I’d get more and more anxious as it got to my daughter’s school. I would cross my fingers and all body parts that could be crossed for good measure. I would make a pact with God if her school was open, I would never again use the Lord’s name in vain. Her school popped up on the screen — CLOSED. *** Dammit! I renewed my pact.

One night my husband and I were watching TV when a ticker popped up, alerting us my daughter’s school was closed due to inclement weather. Infuriated, I ranted and raved about the lunatics who would close the schools because it snowed in Alaska. This was safety overkill. This was ***! My husband told me we were watching a show we recorded back in January, six months earlier. Our daughter was on summer vacation. Just the thought had me frazzled and renewing my pact.

Then there was the morning my daughter waited for the bus for two hours. After two hours she came inside and asked, “Are you sure there’s school today? I’ve been waiting two *** hours!” Turned out the show I was watching was another old, recorded show and instead of it being 75 and sunny, it was 12 degrees and snowing. School closed! *** Dammit!

I renewed my pact with God and my daughter made her first one. I don’t know where she learned such language.

— Cindy Argiento

Cindy Argiento’s first column appeared in the Greensboro News and Record as a Personal Ads feature on April 30, 2002. Later that year, her first “As I See It” column appeared in the High Point Enterprise, where it would become a regular feature for several years. Her columns also have appeared in the Reidsville Review, Eden Daily News, Gilroy Dispatch, Hollister Freelance, Hopewell News and Foothills Paper. Other essays have appeared in Chicken Soup For the Soul books, Family Matters and Married Life. Three of her pieces were recognized as a finalist, semi-finalist and honorable mention in “America’s Funniest Humor” writing contest. She blogs at Cindy’s World.

Reflections of Erma