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I failed the martial rating scale

I recently came across something called “The Marital Rating Scale” created by Dr. George Crane, a psychologist from the 1930’s.  Dr. Crane interviewed 600 husbands on their wives’ positive and negative qualities and then assigned points for merits and demerits.  A sample of the chart is below…

I thought perhaps it might be fun to take a look at some of the more interesting “demerits” for wives on Dr. Crane’s scale and see how I score.


#3  Fails to sew on buttons or darn socks regularly

True confessions here:  I had to google “darn socks”.  I mean, I’ve heard the term before, but I didn’t actually know what it meant.  Clearly, I have failed in this department.   Also, I have never sewn a button in my life.  Ever.  Probably because I somehow have never been alone in a button emergency.  I mean, I have a mom that can sew a button, my friends can sew buttons and I married a guy that can sew a button.  My 9 year old can sew a button.   I just sort of discreetly leave the room when I suspect a potential button situation…I mean, it’s been 47 years, why break my streak now?

#25 Wears pajamas while cooking

Hmm…this one is a bit baffling.  Does anyone really care what anyone who is cooking for them is wearing?  You want to come to my house and cook for me?  You can wear your ratty pajamas, you can wear a ballgown, you can wear a bathing suit, hell, you can wear your birthday suit, I really don’t careI would just be forever grateful for one less endless meal to cook.

#18 Tells family affairs to casual acquaintances, too talkative

I suppose writing a blog about your family affairs for complete strangers to read and then posting it on social media would qualify me for a solid demerit on this one.

#7 Seams in hose often crooked/ripped

Finally, one I agree with!  In fact, my hose is ripped right now and it’s super annoying because every time I go to water my hydrangeas I end up soaking wet.  You are right Dr. Crane, a woman’s hose should not rip.

#35  Wears pajamas instead of nightgown

Wow…huge fail here.   Here is a photo of the last nightgown I wore.  Holly Hobbie from 1975.  That nightgown was legit, I think it even came with a bonnet. Really, I don’t even wear matching pajamas.  I wear flannel pajama pants, even in summer, and either my green Breakfast Club t-shirt or my gray t-shirt that says, “I like to party.  And by party I mean read books.”  I probably get extra demerits for having all that goin’ on.













Ok, enough with the demerits.  Let’s see where I can rack up some favorable wifely points and look at the “merits” columns.


#25  Has pleasant voice-not strident

Well, according to Merriam-Webster, strident means loud and harsh.  And I’m 100% Italian.  So I guess no points here.  Damn.

#36 Keeps husband’s clothes clean and pressed

I get a point!  Well, half a point.  I do wash his clothes.  But pressed?  Unfortunately, that would fall under the same category as the darning socks/sew a button situations.

#28  Writes often and lovingly when away from husband

Does this post count?  I love you, B.

#41 Has minor children to care for (5)

Jackpot!  I DO have minor children, three of them at 5 points each!  15 points for me.  Shoot, I just realized that my oldest is 18 so she doesn’t count.  Wait…she’s still a tax deduction, right??

#23 Reacts with pleasure and delight to marital congress (10)

Does “marital congress” mean what I think it means?  Sex is worth 10 points?  I’m in a bit of a pickle with this one…my children read my blog and if I award myself the points it’s possible they will die of mortification.  On the other hand, if I don’t award myself the points, it’s possible my husband will.  I’m pleading the 5th on this one.

#34  Good seamstress-can make her own clothes or the children’s clothes

I think we can safely assume from my button confession that this one doesn’t apply to me.

#7 Personally puts children to bed

Umm….yes.   I mean, is there another way to do it?  Is there like, a service you can call?  What am I missing here?

#33 Often comments on husband’s strength and masculinity

Not really but I often ask him to reach things that I can’t.  That’s kinda the same thing, right?

#21 Keeps snacks in refrigerator for late eating

I DO in fact, keep (well, hide) snacks, particularly my friends Ben & Jerry, buried underneath the frozen vegetables for MY late night eating.  Does that count?

#20 Has a pleasant disposition in the morning – not crabby.

That depends.  Did someone find and eat my Ben & Jerry’s?

#22 Likes educational and cultural things

Ugh.  Honestly?  I really don’t.  I mean, I’ll watch Jeopardy every once and awhile but that’s about it.  I don’t like NOVA, I don’t like documentaries, I don’t like concerts, I don’t much like theatre, and I pretty much go to museums out of obligation to raise culturally aware children.   Wow, good thing I’m not writing a dating profile…I sound awful.

So I’m not sure exactly how many points I’ve scored but it ain’t looking good.  It has become painfully obvious that I would make a pretty crappy 1930’s housewife, at least according to Dr. Crane.  But since being a 1930’s housewife seems like a worse job than being an armpit sniffer (it exists) I’m not too devastated.

—Janene Dutt
Janene Dutt resides on a small island in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and three children. Her hobbies are baking, gardening, and extreme couponing. She suffers from Pediculophobia, the fear of lice. When she’s not blogging, you can find her combing through her family’s hair. Check out her adventures at

Give the gift of laughter

Looking for the perfect holiday gift for your mother or other Erma Bombeck fans?

How about tickets to one of the Human Race Theatre Company’s four special preview performances of Erma Bombeck: At Wit’s End in Erma’s hometown?

These performances are running April 19-22, 2018, in the intimate, 54-seat performance space at the Caryl D. Philips Creativity Center, 116 N. Jefferson St. in downtown Dayton. Thanks to the generosity of the Human Race Theatre Company, a portion of the ticket price for these performances will benefit the endowment fund of the University of Dayton’s Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop. In addition, if patrons mention the Erma performances when purchasing holiday gift cards, Uno Pizzeria and Grill will donate 10 percent of any proceeds between now and Dec. 31 to the endowment fund.

VIP tickets are $50 for the 8 p.m. opening preview on Thursday, April 19, which includes a meet-and-greet reception with actress Jennifer Joplin after the play at Uno, 126 N. Main St. Mingle with the star of the one-woman show and enjoy light refreshments and a cash bar. Tickets for the remaining 8 p.m. shows on Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday are $30.

Tickets can be purchased for the preview performances by calling 937-228-3630 and using the code ERMA18 or clicking on this special link.

Human Race Resident Artist Jennifer Joplin stars as the literary icon whose candid commentary on life as a woman, spouse and mother made her the champion of suburban housewives everywhere and her newspaper columns a mainstay on kitchen refrigerators for more than 30 years. Full of personal anecdotes and sprinkled with plenty of Erma’s famous one-liners, it’s a charming biography that proves “if you can’t make it better, you can laugh at it.”

Written by Allison Engel and Margaret Engel and directed by Heather N. Powell, the play officially opens Thursday, April 26 and runs through May 13. Ticket prices are $25. The show runs 60 minutes, without an intermission.

Erma Bombeck: At Wit’s End, playing on stages around the country, is bringing Erma’s wit and humanity to a new generation. Click here to find out where else you can catch this can’t-miss one-woman show between now and June 2018.

A late bloomer boomer

Our grandfathers recited endless clichés, claiming that they had much harder lives growing up than we did (“We walked three miles in the snow to school,” bla, bla, bla).

We baby boomers can’t make such a claim to our grandkids. Get real: our lives were a piece of cake compared to the millenniums. We flew through our homework, rarely encountered any kind of bullying — and, though we survived some chaotic history in the 1960s, I recall no school shootings.

Oh, kids, don’t let me commence.

Okay, ‘tis time to jump off the soapbox and lighten up. My trials rest not in the past but rage on in the now. As a throwback to a simpler time, I have suddenly found myself in a world of insufferable complications. How do the millenniums do it?

As I ride the subways, I observe billboard ads that contain such ambiguities that I haven’t a clue as to the message. And it doesn’t help that the font’s so tiny that most old codgers like moi need a magnifying glass.

When I drop in to see a movie, those ads also baffle me. I’m talking about the coming attractions of today. Images flash like corn popping, at such a jet-speed pace that I am left struggling with several questions, including: What the hell is the name of this upcoming flick, who the hell’s in it and what on earth is it about? 

As I stroll the streets of Manhattan, I’m bewitched, bothered, bewildered and delayed by all the sidewalk “scholars.” Half of the Big Apple residents look like they’re on drugs as they saunter down the streets reading their stupid smart phones. And that’s not just the millenniums. My own precious peer group cronies stare at their phones trancelike, many taking a tumble as they lose their balance. No wonder the Chinese call smart phones “digital heroin.”

My frustrations with millennial protocols extend to gathering materials for my writing profession. I recently asked a young employee at a stationary store to show me where the typing paper could be found. A blank expression filled his face: “We don’t have anything like that these days,” he said.

“You’re mistaken,” I told him. “I bought it last month. Someone’s moved it.”

We checked with several other millenniums meandering about the store. None had ever heard of typing paper. When I finally spotted it on my own, I called the clerk over and showed him.

“That’s not typing paper,” he said. “I’ve never actually used one, but I’ve seen pictures of a typewriter. Didn’t typing paper come all rolled up?”

“Oh, now I see,” I said. “Well, strip my gears and call me shiftless, nowadays it’s labeled multi-purpose printing paper. Duh.”

Each of the young’uns stared at the old geezer as if I were a ghost. As I noted their bugging eyes, I swept away into the afternoon with my so-called printing paper, wishing I had been wearing a cape to make my departure more dramatic.

It’s not their fault, ya know. When oh when will I become new-fashioned? I’m beyond being simply a late bloomer. Heavens to Betsy, I’m just now getting around to sporting hippy hair. Fifty years after my peers did it. When I wear my hair over my ears, millenniums have mistaken me for everything from a Carnegie Hall conductor, to a has-been rock star to a hobo.

I never used recreational drugs but, after periodically spending three hours on my land  phone with my health insurance people, I can assure you I desperately crave whatever drugs they’ll finally approve. And then some.

Presently, I have to perform a mental arm-wrestling feat just to get my anxiety meds refilled. Why oh why oh why-oh? It’s not a narcotic. Well it isn’t. It isn’t. And I’m not a neurotic. Well I’m not. I’m not. I’m not.

Today’s insurance agents request everything from my social security number, to the name of my first goldfish to the date of my mother-in-law’s hysterectomy.

All this to refill an anxiety medication. What will happen when I need Viagra? Ah, don’t laugh. I may be a late-blooming boomer, but I’m also a steaming hot sexual being. A hippy-come-lately with blazing loins. Dagnabbit, I’m still trying to find myself.

Oh, kids, don’t let me commence.

— Steve Eskew

Retired businessman Steve Eskew received master’s degrees in dramatic arts and communication studies from the University of Nebraska at Omaha after he turned 50. After one of his professors asked him to write a theater column, he began a career as a journalist at The Daily Nonpareil in Council Bluffs, Iowa. This led to hundreds of publications in a number of newspapers, most of which appear on his website,

Creamed onions and reindeer sneezes

A friend mentioned she was making creamed onions for Thanksgiving dinner.

The memory flashed in my mind, “Santa’s reindeers never catch a cold because they eat creamed onions,” my dad told us at the dinner table. He passed the warm bowl in my direction. I passed it to my Gran. The soupy mixture with floating eyeball-sized onions didn’t appeal to me in the least. “I’d rather catch a cold,” I told him.

And so began the latest health update at the table.“Think about it, Anne, have you ever seen a sleigh of Santa’s with a missing reindeer?” he asked, pausing his carving duty.

“Dad, I’ve never even seen Santa or his sleigh in the sky. How would I know if one was missing?” I retorted with a snarky attitude.

“Well, in all of my years, I’ve seen it plenty of times and those reindeers fly in the harsh, cold winter weather, with no jackets. They fly in the rain and the snow and sub-zero temperatures and not one of them ever sneezes!” He sounded like an North Pole expert.

“How would you even know if they sneezed? You can’t hear them from that far away.”

“Are you kidding me? On Christmas Eve I have super hearing powers. I hear everything! How did you not know this?” he asked seriously.

He turned to my mom who had a big grin on her face. She nodded her head at me, with her blue eyes open wide. “It’s true. He has great hearing and he can pick up the reindeers’ course in the sky,” she fibbed.

I must have been six at the time. It was back in 1958, a simpler time for kids. We believed for a longer time back then.

“So the reindeer eat creamed onions and don’t catch a cold and you get super hearing on Christmas Eve?” I asked, confused.

“Well, where do you think I got the special hearing from?” he asked.

He passed the bowl of creamed onions back my way.

I put two onions on my plate. I figured I could do a chipmunk move and hide them in my cheeks if I didn’t like them. I thought it would be really cool to sit up with my dad and track Santa’s sleigh on Christmas Eve. I plunked one onion into my mouth.

It was gross! But missing out on that sleigh sounded worse. I ate both onions and I didn’t sneeze that entire winter. My dad was a genius!

— Anne Bardsley

Anne Bardsley lives in St Petersburg, Florida, with her “wrinkle maker” of a husband and two spoiled cockatoos. She’s still recovering from raising five children. She is so happy she didn’t strangle them as teenagers as they’ve given her beautiful grandchildren. She is the author of How I Earned My Wrinkles: Musings on Marriage, Motherhood and Menopause and Angel Bumps. She blogs at

You can write!

Can you craft a short essay that either sparks laughter or touches the heart in the way that Erma Bombeck wrote?

Writers around the world are encouraged to capture the essence of Bombeck’s work by submitting an original essay in the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition, sponsored by Washington-Centerville Public Library in conjunction with the University of Dayton. The contest opens at 8 a.m. (EST) on Monday, Dec. 4, and entries will be accepted until 8 a.m. (EST) Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018. The entry fee is $15.

The competition, held every two years, pays tribute to hometown writer Erma Bombeck, one of the greatest humorists of contemporary times and arguably the University of Dayton’s most famous graduate.

Entries should be 450 words or less. Essays submitted may not have been previously published (either print or online). New this year: the local category will include all of Ohio. The global category will include the rest of the world. It’s a chance to win $500, a free registration ($450 value) to the April 5-7, 2018, Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop at the University of Dayton — and bragging rights.

One entry per person will be accepted, and previous contest winners are encouraged to apply. All winning essays will be published on the library’s website, as well as in the Dayton Daily News and the workshop’s printed program. Those receiving honorable mentions will receive certificates.

The entries will be blind judged by a panel of authors, syndicated columnists and experienced writers. Pulitzer Prize-winning humorist Dave Barry and award-winning novelist and short story writer Bonnie Jo Campbell will serve as the finalist judges for the humor and human interest categories, respectively.

Winners will be announced at the end of February with a celebration event set for 7 p.m., Wednesday, April 4, at the Centerville Library. The awards ceremony is free and open to the public.

“The quality of these essays has shot through the roof over the years. Having Bonnie Jo Campbell and Dave Barry as our final judges escalates the excitement factor to a new level, and I am excited to get started,” said Debe Dockins, Erma Bombeck Writing Competition coordinator.

In 2016, 563 writers from around the world entered previously unpublished essays in humor and human interest categories — roughly 253,350 words. To read the 2016 winning entries, click here.

For complete writing competition guidelines, the online entry form or more information, click here.

Worth the weight

As a 175-pound weakling whose idea of lifting weights is doing 12-ounce curls, I had always vowed that I would never go to any gym that wasn’t situated next to a bar.

I recently found such an unlikely combination when I won a one-day trial membership to Blink Fitness, which has gyms in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and California.

Because going to the West Coast would entail hopping on a plane, a form of exercise frowned upon by the Federal Aviation Administration, I drove to the Blink location in Melville, New York, which happens to be situated next to Blackstone Steakhouse, an establishment that has a bar where powerlifters such as myself can do 12-ounce curls.

My brief membership began after work, where I didn’t work up much of a sweat, and ended an hour and a half later in the upstairs equipment room, where I didn’t work up much of a sweat, either, because I was too busy talking to members who were trying to work up a sweat but couldn’t because, of course, I was talking to them.

“How’s it going?” I asked Scott Grimando, 48, an illustrator who was in the middle of a workout on the shoulder press machine.

“OK,” Scott replied between huffs and puffs. “Trying to keep in shape.”

Except for a woman who was working out with a personal trainer and appeared to be even older than I am (63 physically, 12 mentally), Scott was one of the more senior members, most of whom appeared to be in their 20s and already in such good shape that they shouldn’t have bothered working out.

“I have a one-day membership,” I told Scott.

“Make the most of it,” he said, adding that he’s a pescatarian.

“I’m Catholic,” I responded. “And I may need last rites before the night is out.”

Scott patiently explained that a pescatarian is a person who doesn’t eat meat but does eat fish. “It’s a good diet to be on,” he said, returning to his shoulder presses.

I sat down next to him and did 10 at a weight that probably didn’t exceed that of a Chihuahua on a pescatarian diet.

Next I spoke with David Kahn, 50, a lawyer who was on a pedal machine.

“I want to look buff,” said David, who did. “Also, I got hurt Rollerblading, so coming to the gym is safer.”

David, who used to play soccer and softball, practices corporate law and said he couldn’t represent me if I got hurt working out.

“But I could represent the gym,” he said with a smile.

“In that case,” I said, “I’ll take it easy on the machines.”

And I was on plenty of them. There was the treadmill (where I watched Charlie Sheen in a rerun of “Two and a Half Men”); the moving stairs (which I climbed steadily but didn’t get anywhere); the calf exerciser (I didn’t see any livestock); and the dumbbells (I was the biggest one).

All in all, it was an invigorating experience. The gym was clean and spacious, the people were friendly and the equipment was top-notch. And I didn’t need last rites.

“How was it?” assistant manager Christian Dellosso, 23, asked as I was leaving.

“Terrific,” I said. “Considering I’m 40 years older than you are, I feel really good.”

“Great,” Christian said. “I hope you’ll join.”

“I’m thinking about it,” I said. “But first, I have to go next door for one more workout.”

I strolled over to Blackstone Steakhouse and ordered a beer from bartender Vinny Fodera, 59, who sported a sweeping mustache and a muscular build.

“Do you work out?” I asked.

“No,” Vinny said. “I used to lift weights, but they were too heavy.

“If you don’t mind,” I said, lifting a cold one, “I’m going to do some 12-ounce curls.”

“Be my guest,” Vinny said. “For guys our age, it’s the best exercise you can get.”

— Jerry Zezima

Stamford Advocate humor columnist Jerry Zezima is the author of three books. Visit his blog at Email:

The garage sale strikes back

Once a year, or so, I feel an uncanny need to atone for my sins against our household budget by holding a garage sale.

When our home begins to look like it should be featured on the season finale of “Hoarders,” I simply can’t resist the urge to put all of our surplus underwear and small appliances on display in the front yard, and invite complete strangers over to rummage through them. (Some even pay actual money to carry them off.)

The most punishing aspect of the entire garage-sale experience is the preparation. This usually involves arguing with my wife and daughters over whether we actually need four Easy-Bake Ovens, or if we might be able to survive the winter with just three. I then spend two solid days sorting through enough outgrown female children’s clothing to costume a synchronized dance troupe at the national birthday party of Kim Jong-un. Sometimes, going through the girls’ old clothes actually makes me kind of wistful and sad, not because I’m sentimental, but because I think of all of the Chick-fil-A chicken biscuits I could have purchased with the money I’ve spent on overpriced, matching designer clothes that the girls might have worn for 20 minutes until they whined enough to convince us to let them change back into their cut-off shorts and Hello Kitty t-shirts from Walmart.

On the day before this year’s sale, I got out of bed especially early (which, when I’m not at work, is any time before noon) to turn my garage into a miniature Hanna Andersson outlet. I had felt a little woozy that morning, but I figured it was just the shock of being out of bed and actually wearing pants at that hour on my day off. As I stood in the open garage enjoying the breeze and carefully arranging an enormous pile of fleece pajamas that appeared to belong to a family of polygamists living in the Arctic, I began to feel the unmistakable sensation in my gut that told me I was about to “L’Eggo my Eggo” all over my display of ballet leotards if I didn’t move quickly. Unfortunately, the closest semi-private vomitorium I could reach in time was a massive hedge along the side of my neighbors’ house. Luckily, they weren’t home at the time (and if they happen to read this column, I want to invite them to barf in my begonias any time the need arises).

Once I had thoroughly fertilized the shrubbery next door, I began to feel much better and managed to convince myself that I might have just ingested an expired waffle, instead of contracting a dreaded “tummy bug.” Since I was practically finished setting up the garage sale, I did what one naturally does after a good upchuck on the neighbor’s landscaping; I mowed my front yard. (I strongly believe in an aesthetically pleasing presentation when I invite the community onto my property to browse through my family’s unwanted belongings.)

About two-thirds of the way through my mowing, my bowels suddenly made it clear that they were surrendering to the dark side. It was as if Darth Vader found my lack of respect for the rotavirus disturbing and applied his telekinetic stranglehold to my large intestine. At first, I couldn’t move at all. I just stood there with the wheels of my self-propelled Husqvarna spinning in place and tried to clench every orifice shut for fear of turning into a human pressure washer in front of the entire neighborhood. Eventually, I gathered the strength to lean forward against the mower and waddle it back to my storage shed like a penguin with sciatica.

My only hope at that point was to retreat indoors and apply my traditional stomach virus remedy of taking a few warm baths, remaining isolated in my bedroom for an entire day, making my wife and daughters feel really sorry for me, and hoping to shrink my love handles in the process. (If it weren’t for the crippling nausea, near-fatal dehydration, and deprivation of Mexican food, I might do this more often.)

The next morning, other than feeling like a tube of hemorrhoid ointment that had been trampled by a stampede of water buffalo, I was well enough to carry on with the garage sale. As I sat in my garage, fielding awkward questions from shoppers about my partially mowed grass, I felt blessed to be alive and thanked the Lord for the inventors of Saltines and Gatorade. I even made enough money on the sale to buy myself a brand new pair of Darth Vader fleece pajamas.

May the hork be with you! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

— Jason Graves

Jason (Jase) Graves is a married father of three daughters, a lifelong resident of Longview, Texas, and a Texas A&M Aggie. He writes about home and family issues from a humorous perspective for the Cagle Cartoons syndicate and his blog. Other than writing, his primary hobby is sleeping as late as possible.

Turkey day has become chopped liver

I just heard Tony Bennett on the radio singing, “I’ll Be Home For Christmas.” And Thanksgiving is several days away. Like Christmas, (and unlike Halloween), Thanksgiving is an actual holiday. But it has been lost in the Christmas hype.

Maybe Thanksgiving would get more respect if it were not tucked in between Halloween and Christmas. So I vote that we move Thanksgiving to January. January is a pretty depressing month, so I believe Thanksgiving should be moved from the fourth Thursday in November, to the fourth Thursday in January. That way, people won’t be preoccupied with Black Friday.

No one has any money left in January anyway, so the focus would be on thankfulness – thankful that Christmas is over and the relatives are gone. And surely they wouldn’t return in January, would they? And turkey in January tastes just as good as it does in November.

I know turkey day was carved in stone by an act of Congress in 1941, to be celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November; but they never saw Black Friday coming. Nor Walmart. I believe had they envisioned the commercialism that would occur between Thanksgiving and Christmas, they never would’ve have chosen the fourth Thursday in November to celebrate Thanksgiving.

And Congress had no way of knowing that Halloween would become the second largest commercial holiday – next to Christmas – in America. Tucked in between lies poor little Thanksgiving. Indulge on turkey as you wish, but chopped liver is what this holiday has become.

Anyhow, I just wish the air leading up to Thanksgiving could be filled with music fit for the occasion. But the only songs that even come close are buried in church hymnals. There are just no secular songs that hint of Thanksgiving.

Bing Crosby singing, “I’m Dreaming of a White Thanksgiving,” probably wouldn’t have much of a ring to it, I suppose. Neither would Tony Bennett singing “I’ll Be Home For Thanksgiving,” or Elvis singing, “I’ll Have a Blue Thanksgiving Without You.”

But if dogs can bark, “Jingle Bells,” you’d think “The Chipmunks” could’ve come up with a Tom Turkey tune that marched to a different drum stick.

Let’s face it. When it comes to holiday music, Thanksgiving will always play second fiddle.

—Raymond Reid

Raymond Reid is a national award-winning humor columnist. He can be contacted at

Reflections of Erma