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On a cart and a prayer

If it weren’t for my wife, I would have starved to death long ago. Not only is Sue a great cook (her specialties include everything, which is exactly what I like), but she does all the food shopping. Only illness can prevent her from the swift completion of her appointed eye of rounds.

So when she got sick recently, I had to go to the supermarket. By myself. For the first time in almost 39 years.

“Here,” Sue said between sneezes, handing me a shopping list. “You don’t have to get too much. Do you think you can handle it?”

“Of course,” I said confidently. “I’ll just put the cart before the horse’s aft.”

“If you come back with everything,” Sue said wearily, “it will be a miracle.”

When I arrived at the store, I met Ken Fehling and Richard Cunnius, who also were shopping for their wives.

“My wife doesn’t shop,” said Ken, who recently retired as a college director of residential operations. “So she sends me.”

“Do you go back home with everything on the list?” I asked.

“Always,” Ken said. “My wife thinks I do a good job.”

“I don’t think mine does,” said Richard, a retired electrical engineer. “When I get back home, she’ll say, ‘Did you get it on sale? Did you do this? Did you do that?’ Then she’ll discover that I forgot something. I guess I’m not a good shopper. But if my wife can’t go, she sends me.”

We stood in the produce section, getting in the way of other shoppers, all of them women who seemed annoyed that three geezers were blocking their way to the lettuce, and talked about wives, kids and grandchildren before I said, “I have to go to the deli counter to pick up some cold cuts. Nice meeting you guys.”

“You, too,” said Richard. “Good luck.”

“Check off every item on your list,” Ken suggested. “That way, you won’t forget anything.”

When I got to the deli counter, it was so crowded I couldn’t get to the machine to take a number.

“I’ll get it for you,” said Maddy Spierer, an artist who owns a design company. She handed me No. 57. The guy at the counter yelled out, “No. 45!”

“I guess we’ll have to wait,” I said.

“You looked lost,” Maddy noted.

“It’s my first time shopping alone,” I said.

“You’ll be OK,” Maddy assured me. Then she realized she had taken two tickets, Nos. 54 and 55, so she handed me the latter. “It’ll speed things up,” said Maddy, a mother, a grandmother and a veteran food shopper. When her number was called, she said to me, “You’re next!”

“I’m not going to get bologna because I’m already full of it,” I told Maddy. But I did pay it forward by giving my No. 57 to a woman named Tanya, who had No. 62. When I told her my wife had sent me shopping, Tanya smiled and said, “Smart woman.”

A few minutes later, in the canned food aisle, I saw a tall gentleman with a black suit and a clerical collar.

“Are you a priest?” I asked.

“I’m a Methodist minister,” the Rev. Amos Sherald responded with a warm smile.

“You’re just the man I’m looking for,” I told him. “This is my first time food shopping by myself. My wife said that if I came back with everything on the list, it would be a miracle.”

“Did you remember to bring the list?” Rev. Sherald asked.

“Yes,” I replied.

“It’s a miracle!” he said.

And, lo, I felt the hand of God guiding me through the rest of the store, making sure I did, indeed, get everything Sue wanted me to buy.

When I arrived home, I told her about my supermarket adventure and especially about my encounter with Rev. Sherald.

Doubting Sue would not believe until she had checked the bags. “He was right!” she exclaimed. Then she added, “How would you like to go food shopping for me next week?”

“I don’t think so,” I said. “After all, miracles don’t happen every day.”

— Jerry Zezima

Jerry Zezima, who served on the faculty at the 2010 EBWW, writes a humor column for the Stamford Advocate that is nationally syndicated through the Tribune News Service and regularly appears in the Huffington Post. He’s written three books, Grandfather Knows BestLeave it to Boomer and The Empty Nest Chronicles. He has won six humor-writing awards from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists and was named EBWW’s Humor Writer of the Month twice. He is the past president of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists.

Looking back, moving forward

(Editor’s Note: Angie Klink’s essay about the National Women’s History Project originally ran on Ms. Magazine’s blog on Dec. 27, 2016.)

Molly Murphy MacGregor was a 26-year-old high school history teacher in 1972 when a male student asked her a question that would change the course of her life: “What is the women’s movement?”

MacGregor didn’t know the answer.

“As a young teacher, I couldn’t let the student know that I didn’t know the answer,” MacGregor said. “So I said, ‘What a good question. Let’s discuss it.’” After school that pivotal day, she consulted her college history textbooks for an answer. “Only one chapter in one book contained information about the first Woman’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848,” she said. “I had read it before — I received straight A’s in history — and yet somehow I had not remembered it. I had not even realized how much I owed those women. For me, that was the beginning.”

It was the beginning of MacGregor’s realization that women’s narratives had been left out of history books, classrooms and the media. Women were invisible because their stories had not been told. It was oppression by omission. “What I didn’t know that day was that that moment of realization would set the course for my life’s work,” she told Ms. “I asked new questions in all my classes. As we studied American history, I’d ask, “Did these events impact men and women differently? Did they impact cultural groups differently?’”

MacGregor’s “conversion moment,” spurred by one student’s question, was ultimately what sparked her  co-founding of what are today two national icons: The National Women’s History Project (NWHP), a nonprofit educational resource and clearinghouse for multicultural women’s history, and National Women’s History Month held annually in March. Her journey began when she returned to college at Sonoma State in the mid-seventies.

“It was magic after that,” MacGregor said. “I became very involved in Women’s Studies and a women’s history slide show. We traveled all over, and each time we showed the presentation, we could see that people knew nothing about women’s history.”

MacGregor also taught classes at a community college where her students conducted a research project counting how many books about women were available in their local elementary school libraries. There were only three to seven biographies about women in each library. “The real problem was that the books had not been checked out in five to 15 years,” said MacGregor. “As a teacher, I knew why that hadn’t been checked out — it was because the books had not been assigned.”

MacGregor spearheaded the idea of a Women’s History Week for county schools as a volunteer on the Sonoma County, California Commission on the Status of Women. Curriculum guides were created and a celebratory parade was organized. “We provided resources, and the teachers could really teach it,” MacGregor said. “It was a way to introduce teachers to information they didn’t have.”

The first ever Women’s History Week held in California in 1978 included March 8, International Women’s Day. Organizers focused on women as professionals. “We wanted girls to take math and science,” MacGregor said. “They didn’t understand how much they needed math and science to be admitted to a university.” Professional women were recruited to visit schools. Teachers set the scene saying, for example, “Tomorrow we’re going to have a visit from a dentist.” The next day, a woman would enter the classroom, and the students would be taken aback — the dentist was not a man.

The week was a success, and MacGregor was subsequently hired as projects director for the Sonoma County Commission on the Status of Women. In 1979, with the impetus to promote a National Women’s History Week, MacGregor attended an invitation-only, 19-day Women’s History Institute for Women Leaders held at Sara Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York. Dr. Gerda Lerner was chair of the institute. Lerner is credited as the single most influential figure in the development of women’s and gender history since the 1960s.

“When I received the invitation, I was speechless, overwhelmed and completely intimidated,” MacGregor said. Conference attendees included acclaimed women who were presidents of national organizations such as the Girl Scouts of the USA, National Organization for Women (NOW) and the American Association of University Women (AAUW).

“I was one of the youngest people there, and I was not an academic,” MacGregor said. Again, MacGregor’s mission to promote women’s history took a giant leap forward. She presented her idea of a National Women’s History Week, and the Women’s Institute passed a resolution calling for its establishment. The participants immediately began using their organizational skills and political connections. Women around the country petitioned their governors to declare the week of March 8 as Women’s History Week. Barbara Omalade wrote an article about the Institute for Ms. Magazine and included MacGregor as a contact for materials to promote the week. The grassroots movement spread. MacGregor received hundreds of requests. Then she received a call from the White House.

MacGregor remembered answering the phone: “A woman said, ‘I’m Sarah Weddington, the special assistant to President Carter. He wanted me to call you and let you know that he’s going to issue a special message to the American people about Women’s History Week.’”

She was astounded.

President Jimmy Carter issued a proclamation calling on the American people to pause and remember the tremendous contributions of American women and declared March 2-8, 1980 as National Women’s History Week. The next year, Sen. Orrin Hatch and then-Rep. Barbara Mikulski co-sponsored a congressional resolution proclaiming Women’s History Week.

Also in 1980, MacGregor and four others formed the nonprofit National Women’s History Project in Santa Rosa, California, offering resources and knowledge to lift the stories of women’s contributions out of the shadows. Today, the NWHP is known nationally as the only clearinghouse to provide information and training in multicultural women’s history for educators, organizations, parents and others.

In 1987, the NWHP successfully lobbied Congress to declare the entire month of March as National Women’s History Month. National Women’s History Month celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2017, and the NWHP has planned their theme — “Trailblazing Women in Labor and Business.”

“Every year we select a theme, and then we accept nominations of women whose lives exemplify that theme,” MacGregor said. “We offer educational and celebratory items, such as our Women’s History Gazette, and a press packet to make it easy for organizations and communities around the country to celebrate the theme.”

Lilly Ledbetter, equal pay activist, and Barbara Hackman Franklin, former Secretary of Commerce, are among this year’s 13 honorees. Open to all, an honoree luncheon will be held in Washington D.C. on March 25 with tickets available on the NWHP website.

After Hillary Clinton’s historic presidential campaign, the NWHP created one of their most ambitious publications to date — First Woman — a 48-page commemorative volume that pays tribute to Clinton and to the many women who were “first” to hold elected positions in the United States. “We published First Woman to highlight the extraordinary journey for women to participate in our government, from winning the right to vote to being an elected official,” said MacGregor. “First Woman lays out the challenges women face, yet, highlights how we’re moving forward through the next generation of women who have new skill sets and connect through social media.”

From the day 45 years ago when she searched her college history books to find information about the women’s movement, to 2016 when she led the NWHP to publish First Woman, MacGregor, 70, continues her quest to render women’s contributions visible.

“Women’s history transformed me,” said MacGregor. “It gave me a sense of confidence and made me feel connected to everyone. I believe it can transform others. If women know how strong, brave and bold other women have been, they can feel that way, too. And if men know how strong, brave and bold women have been, they will feel more respect for women.”

— Angie Klink

Angie Klink is a board member of the National Women’s History Project (NWHP). She is the author of eight books spanning history and biography. Klink holds a B.A. from the Brian Lamb School of Communication at Purdue University.

Our tooth fairy is a lazy, shiftless hussy

Oh, the shame! I was walking past my kids’ room last night and on the bedroom door, there hung a note. It was addressed to our Tooth Fairy, that truant little hussy.

If you can’t decipher kids’ scrawl, here it is spellchecked, for your reading pleasure:

Dear Tooth Fairy,

Please come get my tooth. I have been waiting for 4 days.

(Top Bunk)

First of all, speaking on behalf of beleaguered Tooth Fairies everywhere, I didn’t even know she had lost a tooth at first. It apparently happened the night I had a concert, so go ahead and throw a big heap of Workin’ Mama Guilt on top of this Shame Sandwich. Our partially toothless daughter had been suffering in silence, waiting patiently for three nights before she even let us know she had a tooth under her pillow!

When she finally told us about it, I was horrified and said many nasty things about our Tooth Fairy that I now regret: how’s she unreliable; takes to drinking under stress and blacking out for days and nights on end; how after she’s been to the house to collect teeth, I notice little things, like jewelry and loose change, have gone missing. Maybe, in retrospect, I laid it on a little too thick, but I wanted her to understand who we’re dealing with here.

And I love how she gave the Tooth Fairy her GPS coordinates, writing “Top Bunck”; like Fairy can fly all the way here, but once in the room, maybe she got confused which pillow the tooth was under?  Since there are three of them in that room (next to an empty bedroom repurposed to hold all their dressers so they can sleep together like a litter of puppies), that does present a challenge for the Tooth Fairy.

I wrote back to her:

Sorry, Sophie. My wings were tired!
-T. F.

Nice, right? Here’s what I really wanted to write back:

Hey Kiddo:

Congrats on losing another tooth. You’re losing them like acorns from a tree in autumn, you know that? And it always seems to happen when your Mom has a concert, or you’re traveling, or one of your siblings has the stomach flu, I swear. Makes my job WAY harder. I mean, it’s not like I always have cute little tchotchkes on hand — sometimes, my Treasure Drawer is empty, you know?

And these Blackhawks! Do you know how many teeth these guys lose during the playoffs? I am beat half to death flying all over the place, taking care of them.

I’m just saying, it’d be great if I could have a little help from your parents once in a while.

Remember when you lost two teeth over spring break while you guys were on that remote Island? I overheard your Mom and Dad laughing about putting Coronas (with limes, but still!) under your pillow ’cause that’s all they had. Girl, I stopped that train wreck from happening by stealing five bucks from your Dad’s wallet — twice! Weren’t you wondering why you got so much money that week compared to when you’re at home?  I was workin’ overtime on that vacation, so excuse me if I’ve been a little off my game lately.

So anyway, thanks for the reminder note, but at the same time, lay off with the shade you’re throwing. I’m doing my best here.

See you soon, I’m sure of it.

— Lynn LaPlante Allaway

Lynn LaPlante Allaway writes a blog, Backwards and In High Heels, and is finishing up work on her first novel, set in a symphony orchestra. She is an active jazz and classical musician, playing violin and viola with the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic and the Chicago Philharmonic. She lives with her jock husband, their four young kids, incontinent cat and hyper puppy in Chicago. You can find her at and @LynnAllaway.

Drawer dreams

I hear voices.

Not “She needs medication” kinds of voices. Other voices. They’re not always pleasant, but I hear them loud and clear:

Essays don’t sell.

Mom-humor is overdone.

You need more followers.

The voices come from the publishing industry, and were the most common responses I received while pitching my book I Love You. Now Go Away: Confessions of a Woman with a Smartphone, a memoir in serial essays written on my phone. I’d spent a couple of years hunched over a four-inch screen, furiously tapping out tens of thousands of words on a wee-tiny keypad, only to be continually turned away by publishing executives — those who bothered to respond — with the no essays/followers/mom-humor assertions.

Such comments perplexed me. I mean, I could understand being dismissed based on a lack of followers — I am admittedly Twitter-averse. But “mom humor is overdone”?  What about the hundreds of successful mom blogs and record-breaking EBWW sell-outs? Essays don’t sell? What about David Sedaris and Dave Barry?

What about Erma?

Still, after a year of querying, the rejections wore me down. When my phone contract ran out, I switched handsets, stuffed the one with my book file in a drawer, and tried to forget about it.

But that didn’t go so well. You see, I began to hear other voices, those of successful authors, the “Ermies” I call them, most of whom I’d met at the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop.

I heard Jenny Lawson, the Bloggess, saying that fear is the thing that stops us.

I heard Kathy Kinney telling us to work — don’t wait — and create our own opportunities.

I definitely heard Wanda Argersinger, every other day when she emailed me to ask, “Exactly where the hell is your book?”

There were many more — Tracy Beckerman, Jerry Zezima, Robin O’Bryant, to name a few  — and though the words came from dozens of different EBWW writers, they all said basically the same thing: 1) Keep trying 2) Don’t be afraid, and 3) Get off your a** and publish that book.

I’ll tell you — the Ermies were loud. I couldn’t shut them up. Especially Wanda.

So a few months ago, I gave in. I pulled the old smartphone out of the drawer, transferred the files to my new phone, and spent the latter part of 2016 editing, polishing and publishing I Love You. Now Go Away. I hired a copy editor and a cover designer so I could choose my own cover.

As you can imagine, all of this was expensive, a bit frustrating, and extremely time-consuming. It was also totally worth it. Dreams don’t belong in a drawer.

I published my book on Dec. 29, and it’s doing just fine. It will never be a New York Times’ bestseller. But you know what? That’s OK. I get comments, emails and even some “Thanks!” for it every day, because it’s making people laugh, which was my goal — my only real goal — in the first place.

Sometimes, I still hear the big-shot publishing authorities in my head.

Luckily, I don’t listen much to authority. Ask my high school principal.

I also don’t always listen to my head. Ask anyone.

But I listened to the Ermies. I listened to my heart.

And I got off my butt and published that book.

When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me.'” — Erma Bombeck

— Dawn Weber

Dawn Weber is a national award-winning humor columnist, Huffington Post contributor and author whose work has been published in six books, including her new book, I Love You. Now Go Away: Confessions of a Woman with a Smartphone. She blogs at, and her Lighten Up! column was a favorite in the Buckeye Lake Beacon, where she’s been called the local love child of Dave Barry and Nora Ephron. Dawn resides in Brownsville, Ohio (motto: Indoor Plumbing Optional) with her husband, kids and freakishly enthusiastic dog, Suzie the Meth Lab. Her goals include thinner thighs, a nap, maybe a solo trip to Target.

T-T-Talking ’bout my generation

When Mark Zuckerberg and his pals at Harvard sat around in their dorm rooms and envisioned the future, you can bet this did not happen: “Someday, people in their 60s, anxious to cling to a time when their knees didn’t ache and they could read menus without glasses, will turn to our invention and see what’s become of all their high school friends. It’ll be fabulous.”

Yet, that’s pretty much what’s happened. I’ve learned everything I know about the Class of ‘68 from Facebook. The biggest revelation? No other generation has been able to conclude, the way we have, that the cool kids got much less cool as time went by. Past generations have had to live long enough to get to that 50th high school reunion to get the final word. Not us. We’ve got newsfeeds.

And conversely, something wonderful has happened to the glasses-wearing, science-loving geeky kids, who were always in the background. I know because I’m friended to two of them — lifelong friends of each other — who were so sweet, smart and dorky you almost had to look away. If they were boys who got their lunch money stolen or got stuffed in someone’s locker between classes, Facebook tells me this is no longer true. They’ve had lucrative careers and long, happy marriages. These days, they upload glorious photos of the two of them hiking mountain ranges together. I don’t know how this happened, but they’re almost athletic.

The football team, many of whom ended up with bad backs and regrets about two-a-day practices — sure didn’t see this coming when they tossed around these guys on the bus. And as for the surfers whom I worshipped from afar, like the rest of us, sun damage hasn’t done their faces any favors. But the science nerdy boys, who tried to stay under the radar of the locker room crowd and have been wearing sun-proof gear for decades, look remarkable. Even when they smile they don’t look weathered, the way — ahem — some people who peaked early and went around saying “Kowabunga” all through high school do now.

In the garden of the late bloomers, the kids who were in the background have blossomed. Facebook tells me so. And it’s the news I’ve been waiting to read. So thanks, Facebook.

— Linda DeMers Hummel

Linda DeMers Hummel is a Baltimore-based freelancer. She recently completed a memoir, I Haven’t Got All Day, and blogs at


A sudden jolt, many of us lurched, and then all movement stopped. We were stuck between floors!

In about two seconds I could tell that I was packed like a sardine among a bunch of people who didn’t have the crisis coping skills of actual sardines.

The one difference, of course, was that most of these people had cell phones. And their phones came out faster than a posse drawing on a fleeing outlaw as they called for help, or called loved ones, or canceled appointments, or ordered pizzas, or took care of whatever else was at the top of their priority lists.

I guessed I couldn’t blame them, since none of us knew if this transportation apparatus would be immobilized for a few minutes or several hours. I mean, think about it. This was not fun. We were all crammed together with no food, no water, no bathrooms and no Starbucks. I had recently experienced my first root canal and, compared to this, the root canal already seemed like a trip to the beach.

I began to observe the people around me more closely. There was confusion, uncertainty, dread, and even resignation on many of their faces. I could even tell what the lady standing next to me was thinking. “The first thing I’m going to do when I get home is call each one of my children and grandchildren,” her eyes were obviously saying. Or, maybe, “I am never going to leave home wearing uncomfortable shoes again.” I was sure it was one of those things.

All too quickly, though, some of the more anxious riders appeared to be approaching the near-panic mode. That was probably accelerated by the fact that there wasn’t room to sit down. It was so crowded that we all had to stay on our feet. That, of course, made things even worse.

“These people need encouragement,” I thought to myself. Since I was in the middle of the group, I decided that I should try to do something.

“Folks, just relax and stay calm. The maintenance crews will have this thing fixed soon, and then we’ll be on our way,” I said in my most reassuring, airline pilot voice. It worked! Everyone quieted down. Sully would have been proud.

I was right about the timing. In what seemed like an eternity, but – in reality – was just a few minutes, our rescue team arrived! We were all going to be okay!

The maintenance team had obviously determined the source of the problem, and we all watched intently as one of the technicians removed a panel and manipulated some unseen controls. And then, to our great delight and with the accompanying cheers and applause of the whole group, our escalator began to move once again!

— Jerry Tobias

Jerry Tobias is an aviation writer who flew everything from supersonic military aircraft to Boeing 747s during a 40-year career as an Air Force, corporate and airline pilot. He also speaks as an aviation safety specialist and as a motivational speaker discussing life lessons learned through aviation.

Tech dumb

The human race will soon adapt to have sharply curved necks and slender thumbs straight from the womb, and baby’s first word will be a compound one: iPad, Facebook, Smartphone.

People not obsessed with tech will be weeded out by natural selection as the ones too primitive to survive. After all, we’re the only ones openly flouting progress and convenience. We’re the ones still getting lost, because our dumb phones aren’t telling us which exit to take, and we forgot how to read a map while going 65 mph. We’re the ones saying Pin-interest instead of Pinterest (Oh, is that just me? My teenager corrects me all the time!) And we’re the dweebs still reading newspapers and magazines in doctors’ offices, the car line and coffee shops.

All of this makes us pretty conspicuous. If the techies ever look up from their devices to notice we’re still around, there’s no telling what they might do!

The day might come when it’s no longer just a look of confusion and disgust that greets us when we produce our flip phones. They might make laws against anyone driving on a freeway without Siri’s supervision. We might get pushed out of the job market, because we don’t have access to email 3,000 times a day. There might even be laws against us breeding. Without ready access to Google in bed, how will we know we’re doing it right?

Still, I defiantly declare that there are advantages to not being one of the Smartphone — or tablet-fondling crowd. Here are a few:

We still understand the term “social function.” (No, it’s not a group invite on Facebook.)

If we spill coffee on our newspaper or drop a library book in the toilet, we don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars to replace it.

We can write without once using abbreviations such as lol, TMI or IMHO.

Our necks are youthful and supple instead of prematurely wrinkled. No tech neck!

Instead of suffering from nearsightedness caused by staring too long at tiny screens while engrossed in Facebook, we have only slight farsightedness from staring off into the distance, engrossed in our own thoughts.

So we’ll just keep rebelling, thank you very much. After all, somebody should be looking up often enough to catch the sunset, enjoy the scenery and notice where the children or Grandma ran off to.

— Hillary Ibarra

Hillary Ibarra has had several humor pieces published on Aiming Low and and was recently published at Hahas for Hoohas. She is a mother of four who dreams of playing the banjo, living in Jane Austen’s childhood home and writing for more than spam artists and 50 loyal readers but can’t seem to find them in the laundry. She is the mysterious blogger at No Pens, Pencils, Knives or Scissors. In her spare time she likes to threaten to sell her children to the zoo, and their little dog, too.

Happy stinking new year

I may have this whole so-called “New Year’s resolution” thing figured out. For years I’ve lost and gained back about 1,000 pounds. The thing is that it’s hard to stay on a big-time diet when you’ve decided long ago to be okay with yourself no matter where you fall on the fat spectrum.

The only thing that helps people like me stick with any diet is our impending death. When you get to be 50 or older, staying alive sort of becomes the focus. Especially amidst all those reports of folks who didn’t make it to the end of 2016. You start to think that they must have eaten a lot of sausage and Snickers bars.

But I have to say, the world gives us a mixed message. We’re supposed to love ourselves right where we are no matter what, but then again we’re supposed to fix anything that’s “wrong” with us — for me that’s what Chris Farley referred to as “a little bit of a weight problem.”

Oh, I’ve definitely decided again that I’ll get back on the elliptical and kick my own ass as we begin this new year. But I have to say I’ve only decided to do it because I’ve got three kids and a husband who, I think, still want me around. If it was up to me alone, I’d gorge myself on Almond Joys and chicken wings and give everybody the finger.

I’ve got one go-around here — as far as I know — I’d like it to be as pleasant as possible.

This means I’m going to find my loose sweatpants (that’s right, I do have tight sweatpants in my bottom drawer) and get back up there on those stupid foot pedal things. My problem is that I’ve lost weight before and experienced that whole “your numbers are down” thing. This leaves me thinking that there’s something to eating kale with lemon and not unwrapping that first Hershey’s Kiss. Why does everything have to be so not fun?

I was talking to someone the other day, somebody I’d just met. We were at the 50th birthday party of a good friend. I said, “No matter what my age is, I feel like I’m 12 inside.”

This didn’t really go over as I’d planned. I got one of those Chris Farley “Oh, she lives in a van down by the river” looks. Keep in mind, this guy I was talking to would’ve gauged about an 8 on the ol’ “pinch and pull” body fat meter.

I have no idea why I shared that little “I feel like I’m 12” line with a stranger. I should have known it might not go over. I guess it’s best not to talk to newly met people when you’re talking about personal problems. I’ve found that they really aren’t that interested in my weight and/or my choice of antidepressants. This always leads me to thinking that they’re somewhat snobbish. Whatever, it obviously wasn’t a great idea

So, I guess the bottom line is that I need to wake up earlier, grab my loose sweatpants and put my foot to the pedal if I expect to live another year or so.

I have to say it gets tiresome. The whole worrying about your body fat index and eating everything steamed and cookies made from mashed chickpeas. Is this the way we’re supposed to live?

I guess it makes for interesting conversation. Maybe we talk about this stuff one-on-one because we don’t want it pasted all over social media. Maybe that’s the up side.

— Connie Berry

Connie Berry grew up reading and loving Erma Bombeck. She is former editor of The Catholic Sun newspaper in Syracuse, N.Y., and a new resident of Martha’s Vineyard where she was copy editor for the Vineyard Gazette. She lives on the island with her husband and youngest son. Her two older children read her blog,, from Syracuse.

Reflections of Erma