The week has been filled with hundreds of decisions that need to be resolved.
Shall I report Sean Connery for stalking me or just let him off the hook again? If having cellulite indicates great sensuality, how will I manage to stay chaste just for today? I am weary of it all.
As an early riser my body awakens much later than I do. I must choose to honor it or let it lay there like lump of lox. Shall I start with coffee or a protein drink? Vanilla or chocolate; with a bagel or baklava?
Is it the gym, a jog or belly dancing? Actually when I am jogging and jiggling I am belly dancing, in a way. Then the calls come.
How’s my plumbing? (Was that my gynecologist?)
Would I sign a petition against healthy foods in the kids’ cafeteria because of loss of revenue? I call the last caller an “idiot!”
I should have had the coffee before responding. Another call: Would I take a survey regarding the service man assigned to repair my refrigerator who was two weeks late, and oops, arrived without the part ordered 18 months ago? This happened before the cream turned sour to match my disposition.
Then more calls plus a text asking about the quality of that same serviceman.
I rarely speak to a live survey taker, so all my cursing goes to waste. Throughout the day there are so many decisions, and at work as well. Forty-two emails, each needing an answer. And still another from Publisher’s Clearing House asking for the thousandth time what I would do with the money if I did win?
I always need to wash my mouth out with soap after I respond.
There are columns to write and book editing and personal matters that require just the right way to handle the issues. I do not want to answer the simplest question now. I need a respite.
So at the end of the day I decided not to have to decide to defrost or not defrost for dinner. Instead, I went to my favorite cafe to simply relax and be served, since I knew exactly what I wanted. The waitress arrives.
ME: I’ll have a small steak.
SHE: Soup or salad?
SHE: Thousand Island, Italian or Ranch?
SHE: Baked potato, French Fries or mashed?
SHE: Sour cream with chives, sour cream without chives, chives with bacon, bacon bits…?
ME: Anything, all of them…
SHE: (under her breath, “Animal!”) How’d you like your steak: rare, medium or well-done?
ME: Charred on the inside, rare on the outside. Who cares anymore?
SHE: Don’t get hostile, lady. Just doing my job. About the bread: Garlic, French or Parker rolls?
ME: Please, I beg you. Don’t bring bread because you’ll ask me about butter or olive oil? I am now crying.
She seems genuinely sympathetic and fans me with the menu.
She leaves, I gain control, and when she returns with the food, I just pick at it while fantasizing that I am a prisoner allowed only bread and water — a decision made by the warden.
I ask for my check.
SHE: Oh no! Dessert comes with the meal. She goes through 28 types of pie.
ME: I don’t want any, thank you!
SHE: Are you kidding! You cannot leave until you make “all gone.”
ME: I pick one. When she turns her back, I put the pie in my pocket and ask once more for the bill.
SHE: Will I be paying with Mastercard, Visa, American Express or Jack in the Box?
ME: I’ll just pay cash and…
SHE: We no longer take cash, as it is considered archaic. We do, however, take Bitcoin, gold…
I turn my purse upside down, dump my credit cards on the table and run out screaming, “You decide! You decide!” as rhubarb drips down my dress.
So now I’d like to do a survey, friends. Do you think I should hand wash the dress, bring it to the cleaners or simply light it on fire? Please, you decide.
— Jan Marshall
Jan Marshall has devoted her life’s work to humor and healing through books, columns and motivational speaking. As founder of the International Humor & Healing Institute, she worked with board members Norman Cousins, Steve Allen and other physicians and entertainers, including John Cleese. Her newest satirical survival book, Dancin’ Schmancin’ with the Scars: Finding the Humor No Matter What! is dedicated to Wounded Warriors, Gabrielle Giffords and Grieving Parents. She donates a percentage of the profits to these organizations as well as to the American Cancer Society and the American Brain Tumor Association.
A longtime magazine writer turned “parenting snarkologist,” Norine Dworkin-McDaniel has written for nearly every women’s magazine you can buy at the supermarket checkout as well as for Parents Magazine, HuffPost Parents, Scary Mommy, parenting.com and WhatToExpect.com. Named one of TODAYParents’ Funniest Parents in 2015, Norine is the editor of The Big Book of Parenting Tweets and The Bigger Book of Parenting Tweets and co-author of Science of Parenthood: Thoroughly Unscientific Explanations for Utterly Baffling Parenting Situations. That book hit #1 on Amazon’s Hot New Parenting Humor Releases and won both the GOLD Benjamin Franklin Award for Parenting & Family from the Independent Book Publishers Association and Foreword Reviews’ SILVER IndieFab Award for Humor. Foreign-language editions of Science of Parenthood will soon be available in China, Taiwan and Vietnam. In 2017, she received third-place honors in the online humor, blog and multimedia category in the National Society of Newspaper Columnists’ annual column contest.
Charles Barkley Banned From Vegas “All You Can Eat” Buffets
Hall of Fame basketball great and hoops commentator Charles Barkley found trouble again in Las Vegas. This time it wasn’t Barkley’s well-known gambling habits that put the all-timer in a bind, it was his equally well-known midsection — the one that earned him the nickname “The Round Mound of Rebound” during his storied career.
A group of Vegas casinos announced a ban on Barkley from their “All You Can Eat” Buffets. A representative of Wynn Casino said, “I don’t care how much he loses, it doesn’t make up for the shrimp and lobster the man eats.” The MGM Grand issued a statement: “David Copperfield isn’t this good at making stuff disappear.” New York, New York Casino/Resort added in a press release: “Our hotel can’t handle the plumbing.”
When reached for comment Barkley said: “Sorry about the plumbing, but I thought what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” Adding: “And, I didn’t mean to bite that nice lady from Omaha’s hand. But, everyone knows to be careful when reaching for shrimp.”
Donald Trump’s Hair to Announce It’s Transitioning Into A Quilt
The news just got a bit more hair-raising for the beleaguered presidential campaign of presumptive Republican nominee Donald J. Trump. Diane Sawyer, in a blockbuster interview, sure to draw comparisons to her sit down with Caitlyn Jenner, announced that Donald Trump’s hair piece will appear with Sawyer to discuss its transitioning into a quilt.
When asked if Trump “wigged out” at the news, the fuzzy patch of yellow answered: “Yeah, he flipped out a little.” Adding: “It’s time. As we say in the trade, “hair today, gone tomorrow.”
Trump’s hair will discuss with Sawyer its desire to transition into being part of a quilt. It’s a project titled “From Hair to Eternity” that will also include well-known retired follicular replacement devices from Liberace, John Travolta, etc.
When reached for a comment, a Trump representative denied the hairpiece existed, but would not rule out a TV show to replace it, tentatively called The Hair Apparent.
UN Reports on Jolie-azation of Third World
The United Nations today called for a temporary ban on Hollywood celebrities traveling to Africa in order to adopt third-world children. “What with famine, war and disease, the African continent cannot afford to lose any more of its youth to adoption by celebrities,” Halie Okafar, Kenyan Under Secretary of the Keeping Our Children Away From Celebrities Ministry, said at a press conference.
Many social scientists have begun to note the trend, calling it the “Jolie-azation” of the Third World. Minister Okafar stated, “Yes, of course, we all want to be adopted by Angelina and Brad. Heck, if the Clooneys are listening. I’m available.” But, Minister Okafar warned, “first it’s Angelina Jolie, then Madonna, and next thing you know, parents will hide their children at even the rumor that David Hasselhoff is in town.”
When asked when a ban might be lifted, Minister Okafar said, “Hard to say. You Westerners have trouble controlling your celebrities. Yes, you held off Ebola, but what have you done to end that scourge known as the Kardashians? You see our point, yes?”
— Paul Lander
Paul Lander is not sure which he is proudest of — winning the Nobel Peace Prize or sending Sudanese peace activist, Fatima Ahmed Ibrahim, to accept it on his behalf, bringing to light the plight of central Africa’s indigenous people. In his non-daydreaming hours, Paul has worked as a writer and/or producer for shows on ABC, NBC, Showtime, The Disney Channel, ABC Family, VH1, LOGO and Lifetime. In addition, he’s written stand-up material that’s been performed on “Leno,” “Letterman,” “Conan” and “Last Comic Standing.” His humor pieces have appeared in Huff Post Comedy, McSweeney’s, The New Yorker, Santa Fe Writers Project Journal, Humor Times, The Higgs Weldon and Hobo Pancake. In 2015, he placed second in the National Society of Newspaper Columnists’ annual column contest in the online/blog/multimedia category for his pieces in Humor Times and was named the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop’s “Humor Writer of the Month.”
I made it to my 60s without irritating too many people, and now it’s time to consider what legacy, if any, will remain after I die.
Any leftover money should be spent on a lavish farewell wake and community party. My adult children won’t be inheriting stock portfolios or trunks full of gold. By not having those assets, I’ve saved my heirs from dealing with multiple accountants, estate lawyers, tax attorneys and nefarious scoundrels who will take every dime they inherit. My kids do, however, have a chance to own my treasured collection of wine corks from around the world and several baskets of finger puppets. I hope they won’t fight over them.
My kids already have the best gift I could share: a sense of humor. In a wicked world spewing toxic drama and trauma, they possess the ability to laugh in the face of chaos and spit in the eye of the storm. These are essential skills to have as they boldly jump out of the proverbial handbasket going to hell.
For more than 30 years, their comedic talents have caused me to laugh until I snort. This raw ability came in handy during their volatile teenage years when they tested my patience and failed the test. Just as I was ready to use my outside voice when my son missed his curfew, he would come home and share humorous stories of adventure and victimless pranks accomplished with his friends. I tried to stifle my amusement, but it was impossible to be mad at him. He always made me laugh.
My daughter knew how to use silly dialects and animal noises to distract any pending consequences for breaking the rules. If she behaved beyond the normal shenanigans and anticipated my disapproval, she would race into the room, tilt back her head, grab her tongue, and baa like a wounded sheep. There was no use trying to maintain any semblance of parental authority. If I had practiced this clever technique with my father, I wouldn’t have been grounded for 40 years.
My children grew up to become happy, productive adults with loving spouses and laughing children. Their two families include four adults, five children and two dogs, and they often take vacations together. During the last camping trip, they each posed in various yoga positions on a rock overlooking a picturesque river. Ranging in age from three to 46, their techniques included my daughter’s physically toned Lord of the Dance Pose and my son’s creative Danish Flying Old Viking Pose. I laughed out loud seeing the collage of photographs.
Laughter truly is the best medicine, and my children and their children should live healthy lives and giggle well into old age. I’m looking forward to the time when my grandchildren will avoid parental reprimands by telling tall tales and creating animated excuses.
If this next generation of children inherits the gifts of humor, they will be rich, indeed, and can happily continue the family legacy of laughter tax-free.
— Elaine Ambrose
Elaine Ambrose is an award-winning author of 10 books, and her blog posts are published on several websites including The Huffington Post, HumorOutcasts and Midlife Boulevard. Her latest book, Midlife Cabernet, won the Silver Medal for Humor from the Independent Book Publisher Awards program, and Publishers Weekly claimed the book is “Laugh-out-loud funny!” Foreword Reviews wrote that the book is “an Erma Bombeck-esque argument for joy.” She served on the faculty at the 2016 Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop. Read about her books and blog at www.elaineambrose.com.
Believe me, it wasn’t easy being a California blonde in the ’60s who couldn’t get her tan on no matter the countless hours I baked on a beach towel, greased from scalp to pedicure with iodine-laced baby oil. Once I hit puberty, I coveted my cinnamon-colored pantyhose, shielding me from indescribable humiliation and ridicule hurled from the Coppertoned mean girls roaming the halls of Skyline High.
Let’s be clear. My paleness is not akin to that of Gwyneth Porcelain Paltrow, or Julianne Ivory Moore. Picture the hideous translucent blue/pink pastiness resembling the glass of skim milk your granny forced you to finish before excusing you from the table after Thanksgiving dinner.
Years ago I resigned myself to the fact that somewhere between high school and the 21st century, stockings became passé for all but Barbara Walters and the assisted living set. How, then to cut the glare emanating from my albino-esque legs?
As luck would have it, one morning I switched on a daytime talk show and caught fellow pallid-skinned Lara Logan singing the praises of Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs. Not a self-tanner, it’s more a leg make-up. A few squirts of the magic potion breathes life into frosty corpse-like gams. From then on, I stored a can in the master bath at all times.
The afternoon of my 40-year class reunion, I showered, brushed on eye shadow and feathered my lashes with mascara. I caked foundation over my un-botoxed forehead, hollow cheeks and humorless laugh lines.
I retrieved the container of faux tan from under the sink. After giving it a good shake, I propped my foot on the side of the tub, aimed at my freshly waxed leg and pressed the spray nozzle. Nothing.
I shook it again and pressed. Nada. Time was running out. I could not enter the banquet room baring it all. Even geeky Beth Coy would be bronze. She’d littered her Facebook timeline with photos of a recent cruise of the Greek Isles. Beads of sweat cracked my stuccoed-on makeup. I need my L’eggs.
I tipped the can upside down and squeezed the button one more time. Zip.
Time to call in reinforcements.
“Jerry, get in here.”
Hubby appeared, buckling his belt. “What’s up?”
I shoved the can in his face. “Nothing’s coming out.”
He pulled his head away and took a step backward. “Wait, what?”
“Honey,” I said, struggling to control my rant. I took a breath. “I need a fresh can.”
“We’re leaving in like 10 minutes. What’s that even for?”
No time for conversation. I grabbed his phone off the dresser and snapped a picture. “Show this to the CVS clerk and tell her you need a new one.”
He squinted at the image.
Flipping my hands at him, I said. “What are you waiting for? Go, go, go.”
“Gimme that,” he said, reaching for the uncooperative can.
He rifled through the vanity drawer, found a safety pin, bent it back and jammed it into the hole in the nozzle.
“Try it now,” he said, handing the container back.
I pointed it at my veiny blue limb and pressed the button.
At last a stream of latte-colored foam spewed from the container.
“Hallelujah,” I said, smoothing the lush liquid over my bare skin. Praying my luck wouldn’t run out, I aimed at the other leg and pressed the button again. Victory.
I admired the warm glow of my reflection in the mirror. The bottom half of my body no longer looked like it belonged to the bride of Frankenstein. It’s alive.
I planted a kiss on hubby’s cheek. “My hero.”
Eat your heart out, Gwynnie.
— Camille DeFer Thompson
After 30 years in local government, Camille DeFer Thompson gave it all up for the glitz and glamour of freelance journalism. Her work has been featured on the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop blog and www.betterafter50.com, as well as in a number of collected works, including, Not Your Mother’s Book…On Working for a Living, Clash of the Couples and Feisty after 45. Camille lives in Northern California. Follow her humor blog at www.camilledeferthompson.com.
Earlier this week Washington Nationals centerfielder Michael Taylor struck out five times against the Los Angeles Dodgers. In that same game he allowed a routine ground ball get past him and to the warning track causing a three-base error that enabled the Dodgers to win in walk-off fashion, 4-to-3.
When he got to his team’s dug-out, he stepped on a piece of Double Bubble Gum, fell to the ground, and broke his right wrist. He then dry heaved into a Gatorade bucket. The team manager, seeing him do this, asked rhetorically, “What the hell are you doing puking in the Gatorade bucket?” The manager then whacked Taylor on the head with the bucket and Taylor’s puke splattered on his own face.
When he got to the locker room, his teammates yelled at him, “You loser, you lost the game for us. How did you ever make it to the Major Leagues? You struck out five times, dude? That’s hard to do. Can’t you get your bat on the ball once in five at bats? You should quit baseball right now. You’re off the team.”
He went to the team physician to tell him he broke his wrist.
“Get out of my office,” he said. “You deserved to break your wrist after that performance. I feel like puking all over your face and busted wrist.”
Even though he asked around, no one would take him to the hospital. So he had to drive all be himself one-handed with his broken wrist. He was alone with his miseries.
When the emergency room doctor saw him, he asked: “Are you the Nationals guy who struck out five times tonight and a let a Little League grounder go through your legs to blow the game for my Nationals team? I saw that. It was putrid. Did your manager cut you right after the game? Did fans throw hot dogs at you? If not, they should have.”
“My wrist is broken,” he said. “I need you to put a cast on it.”
“You won’t be needing that wrist anymore,” the doctor said. “Your baseball career is over. Get out of my emergency room.”
As Young entered his house, his German Shepherd dog bit him on his calf. The dog broke through the skin and caused it to bleed. Knowing his dog had rabies, Young went back to the hospital to get a tetanus shot.
He then confronted the same doctor in the emergency room.
“My dog bit me and it has rabies,” he said. “I need a tetanus shot.”
“I hope you get rabies,” the doctor said. “Any Major League ballplayer who strikes out five times in one game and lets a Little League grounder through his legs to lose the game deserves it. No, I will not give you a tetanus shot.”
As he was leaving the hospital, a car struck him head-on on purpose. It was Dusty Baker, his coach: “You blew the game tonight. You’re cut. And no, my insurance company won’t pay for damages to your car.”
— Sammy Sportface
Sammy Sportface is possibly America’s best blogger. He is only mildly interested in the truth. To read his new book, Wipe That Smile Off Sammy Sportface, go to Amazon.com.
Whenever my wife asks me to tidy up the bathroom, I feel like throwing in the towel because I could never get it to look as nice as the porcelain convenience at a place like the Waldorf Astoria.
So imagine my surprise and delight when I met a guy whose job is to throw in the towel in the porcelain convenience at — you guessed it — the Waldorf Astoria.
I recently attended a dinner at the famed New York City hotel, which is ritzy enough to rival the Ritz but does not, to my knowledge, serve Ritz crackers, at least not in the bathroom, where I went to answer the call of nature, which called collect.
As I was washing up (according to some people, I have been washed up for years), I was handed a towel by a gentleman dressed to the tens, which is even better than the nines. He was nattily attired (if we were in the ladies’ room, he would have been Natalie Attired) in a white, pleated, wing-collar shirt; a black, crisply tied bow tie; a neat black vest; sharply creased black pants, and shiny black shoes.
I, dressed to the sevens in a wrinkled gray suit, took the perfectly folded paper towel, which was embossed with the Waldorf logo, and dried my hands, though not before dripping water all over my dull black shoes.
“Would you like another towel, sir?” washroom attendant Alex Giannikouris asked politely.
“Thank you,” I replied as he handed me one. “Now I can shine my shoes.”
I also took a shine to Alex, who has worked at the Waldorf for 32 years and, judging from the many visitors who stopped in to get tidied up themselves, is even more popular than the celebrities who frequent the premises.
“Alex!” exclaimed one gentleman (we were, after all, in a room marked “Gentlemen,” which made me wonder what I was doing there). “Como esta?”
“Muy bien,” responded Alex, a native of Greece who speaks about half a dozen languages.
The two men carried on a brief conversation in Spanish, at the end of which Alex said, “Adios!”
Another man, tall, handsome and bedecked in a tuxedo, greeted Alex with a handshake — after, of course, drying his hands on the towel Alex gave to him.
“Are you a regular?” I asked the visitor.
“What?” he replied indignantly.
“A regular,” I explained. “Not irregular.”
“Yes,” said the man, who seemed relieved. “I’ve known Alex for years. He’s a great guy.”
That was the consensus among the other visitors, one of whom spoke with Alex in French and another in Greek.
“I even know a little Korean,” Alex said, in perfect English.
Then he regaled me with stories of the celebrities who have stopped in to admire themselves in the mirror.
“The best,” Alex said, “was Frank Sinatra.”
“Did he do it his way?” I asked.
Alex smiled and said, “Yes. He was very nice and very generous. A big tipper.”
“How much money did he give you?” I wondered.
“I can’t say,” Alex replied. “The IRS might find out.”
At least Alex won’t get in trouble with the Social Security Administration. That’s because Bill Clinton, when he was president, signed Alex’s Social Security card. Alex pulled it out of his wallet and showed me the inscription: “To Alex: Thanks, Bill Clinton.”
“Are you going to vote for his wife?” I asked.
“I don’t talk politics in here,” said Alex, who was happy to talk about George Burns (“a funny guy”), Al Pacino (“he washed his face in the sink”) and Ingrid Bergman.
“Ingrid Bergman was in the men’s room?” I spluttered.
“No,” said Alex. “I saw her upstairs. She was very beautiful. One other time, I saw Pope John Paul II upstairs. As he walked past, he gave me a blessing.”
But Alex said he feels especially blessed to be married to Maria, his wife of 39 years.
“One woman for all that time? Why not?” Alex said with a broad smile.
“Do you show your appreciation by tidying up the bathroom at home?” I wondered.
“No, she does it,” admitted Alex, who leaves the tidying up at the Waldorf to a cleaning crew.
He and Maria have three grown children and two young grandchildren.
“I’m a grandpa, too,” I said. “My granddaughter calls me Poppie.”
“I’m called Papou, which is Greek for grandfather,” said Alex, who is 63 and plans to retire soon.
“I’ve had a good career at the Waldorf,” he said. “I’ve met a lot of nice people. But one of these days it will be time to go. And then,” he added, “I’ll really throw in the towel.”
— 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 Best, Leave 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 currently president of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists.
Online dating is like a time warp. I keep meeting the same guys over and over again; they just have different names. Here are six guys on “repeat.”
1. The Ravaged Romeo
He starts his dating profile by discussing his last failed relationship. Even if his profile’s okay, once we meet, I find he’s still pining over a lost love. And keeps talking about it, even as I back away.
I dated an Alec Baldwin lookalike with a brilliant sense of humor…except when he was lamenting about “The Blonde Who Ruined His Life.” I was ready for him to take his shirt off, but he thought I needed to hear more about the pain she’d caused him. I didn’t.
2. The (S)exihibitionist
His photos show a fabulous physique he’s willing to share, but he’s not great with words, offering sex early on “cuz it’d be kool.” But he has little to offer outside of hooking up. Even if he does use the word “sapiosexual” in this profile.
After a few emails, one guy sent me a nude photo (rear view) promising ecstasy. I texted back the blushing face emoji. When I met one of these much younger guys, we had little to say in person. It was awkward. I’m a failed cougar.
3. The Freudian Fool
He’s been in therapy for years, yet still hasn’t made any progress resolving his mother issues. He’s resentful towards his siblings. He’s uncertain how his cat feels about him.
He often doesn’t feel well, happily admitting he’s a hypochondriac. He’s uptight about sex, and has a limited diet, like a six-year-old. When I’ve dated these guys, I was charmed by their Woody Allen-ness, but couldn’t deal with their moodiness and need to over-analyze everything. I ended things; they probably told their shrinks about it.
4. The Outer Critic
Even though he doesn’t know you well, and you didn’t ask, this guy has so much advice for you. One man kept telling me I should get an apartment in Paris, adding that I wasn’t adventurous enough. I finally realized he wanted a free place to crash in Paris.
Another suggested that I was too sheltered; online dating would damage me. (He didn’t want me to date other people). Others critiqued my world views, my car and where I live. I find this unacceptable. Outer Critic usually has other serious faults. Why does he think he can fix you?
5. The Failed Artist
This guy usually has eccentric facial hair and/or peculiar, handmade clothing. If he’s a musician, he sends you many clips of his unproduced works. If he’s a writer, you’ll get numerous links to his unpublished masterpieces. He apparently thinks online dating will get him an audience.
When you meet, he’ll drone on about his work. I’ve never gone on a second date with this type since I couldn’t get a word in on the first. He can’t tell he’s boring.
6. The Aging Stoner
His profile starts with “4/20.” Photos include a stylized marijuana leaf. Early on, he’ll tell you about doing ecstasy or ‘shrooms.
I dated a cute stoner just like Jeff Spicoli from Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Spicoli was often out of it so I ended things. I doubt he remembers since his short-term memory was trashed years ago.
Some types overlap. Ravaged Romeo and Freudian Fool both love over-analysis. Failed Artist and Aging Stoner overlap at “failed.”
Not all guys fall into these categories. I’ve met some unique ones, including the funny, quirky guy who became my boyfriend.
— Debbie Weiss
Debbie Weiss blogs at www.thehungoverwidow.com. She’s had articles published in The Huffington Post, Good Housekeeping, Woman’s Day and Elle Decor, among others. She is writing a memoir and anti-advice manual about widowhood. She lives in the San Francisco Bay area where she was a practicing attorney for 11 years.