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My gluteus maximus research

After close to a year of weekly blogging, I can say that I’ve learned some interesting things. Like when I researched different names for the gluteus maximus, sometimes called the gluteal muscles, or glutes, for short. According to, Wikipedia the fleshy mass of these muscles “in a quadrilateral shape, forms the prominence of the buttocks.”

In case you’re still on your first cup of coffee, I’m talking about the butt.

I researched this topic as a legitimate inquiry for a personal essay. I didn’t post the humorous essay to my blog at the time because I was too embarrassed, but it was accepted in a chronic illness publication. Those readers are used to the TMI, and hopefully appreciate a slightly warped sense of humor. Humor is especially welcome when one’s gluteus maximus and associated body parts are not pulling their weight.

As with all submissions to publications, the editors made some changes to my essay. Maybe I was a little too ballsy in my original draft, but I preferred my version to the edited one. And now, after more months of an uncooperative gluteus maximus and the associated undignified medical procedures, my prudishness has been whittled away. It’s gone from the level of a blue-haired Victorian spinster granny to that of a blue-haired Victorian spinster granny with a bold streak. To confirm my evolution, I’ve posted my original essay to my website, hidden not too deeply within a secret tab, but since you’re special, you can read it here.

In case you “don’t go there” literally and figuratively, here’s a limerick I wrote as part of the essay:

Inside my butt is my bowel.
That word is not really so foul.
It could be much worse.
I would have to curse,
Had my given name been Colin Powell.

I’m no Ogden Nash, but I had fun writing that silly limerick. So I’ve taken my gluteus maximus research and put it to good use, giving myself a good laugh in the process. Here’s my result:

My keister’s a thorn in my side.
There’s nothing that I haven’t tried.
To make it work well,
And, (in a nutshell)
Allow me to stay dignified.

It feels like a stick up my a**.
Said the woman, her words very crass.
It can’t last forever,
There must be some clever
Solution to get it to pass.

You say that’s going up my wazoo?
And then you’ll put WHAT up there, too?
I’ll warn you up front
And let me be blunt
It’s nothing I’ll take kindly to.

If you got through those limericks without your writing or personal sensibilities being offended, thanks for indulging me. I’ve found that the more I laugh at my most embarrassing moments in life, the less embarrassing they become. And I strongly believe that laughter is one of the best medicines. It may not heal my gluteus maximus in discernible ways, butt, if it lifts my spirits, that’s healing of another kind.

THE END

— Karen DeBonis

Karen DeBonis blogs about her wild adventures as a homebody, including writing (aka avoiding housework), meditating (aka napping) and serving a nightly smorgasbord to deer and other critters in her yard (aka gardening). She lives in a wonderfully emptied nest in upstate New York with her husband of 34 years.

This little light of mine, I’m gonna…well, I’m not sure what the hell I’m gonna do!

 

This Little Light of Mine, I’m Gonna Let it Shine…but only in the way that everyone in my pew agrees with.

This Little Light of Mine, I’m Gonna Let It Shine…until the electric bill gets too high. I don’t want it to actually cost me anything.

This Little Light of Mine, I’m Gonna…replace it with an LED. This whole shining thing just takes too much energy.

Let It Shine! Let It Shine! Let It…glow lightly, but only for ambiance and virtue signaling.

Hide It Under a Bushel? N…Well, not all of the time, only when someone’s around who might not like it.

Hide It Under a Bushel? NO!…Definitely not! But I will do my best to obstruct any other bright light being shown on problems that do not directly affect me personally.

Hide It Under a Bushel? N…well maybe under a decorative shade so it’s not so harsh and can be focused directionally only on the darkness that I want dispelled.

Let It Shine! Let It Shine! Let It…be blocked just enough to cast lots of questionable shadows where my darkest fears and hurts can flourish.

Won’t Let Satan Blow It Out…I’ll completely insulate it behind hurricane glass cut off from the outside world so it will never be challenged by the winds of change.

Won’t Let Satan Blow It Out…but I’ll huff and puff until I have extinguished another’s light with all of the hot air rolling from my mouth, talking when I should be listening.

Won’t let Satan blow it out…I’ll just do it myself. What the hell’s the point anyway?

Let It Shine! Let It Shine! Let It…

Let It…

Let It.

Not “cause it.” Or “make it.” Or “demand it.”

And this little light? It’s mine.

I have been entrusted with it. To care for it. To use it.

And if it goes out, which it might.

Reignite that fire!

A single spark can go a long way when the light is passed and shared and encouraged.

Because…

This Little Light of Mine…Is not the only one. Nor should it ever be.

This Little Light of Mine…Didn’t start with me. Nor should it end with me.

This Little Light of Mine…Goes wherever it will. And it will. We just have to…let it.

Let It Shine! Let It Shine! Let It Shine!

— Laura Becker

Laura Becker is an essayist who currently resides in Redondo Beach with her screenwriting partner/husband. Born in Missouri. Raised in Kansas. Adolescence/young adulthood in Iowa, which, according to Walter Neft in Double Indemnity, makes her a native Californian. She writes, quips, muses and laughs about almost anything…almost.

Can the lowly turnip dethrone the pumpkin?

In case you are in denial about the advent of autumn or in a coma, it’s time to wake up and smell the pumpkins. These orange egomaniacs are encroaching on summer like Christmas usurps Halloween, making their flaming debut earlier every year.

I enjoy pumpkin pie and cookies as much as the next American who is addicted to sugary treats. And I love to light my spiced pumpkin Yankee Candle, pretending I have the ambition to bake pumpkin pie and cookies while sipping a Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale. But this year I  feel nauseated from this force-feeding of pumpkin flavored goodies.

I’ve been an advocate for humble, less show-offy vegetables, and realized that it’s time for a change. Move over pumpkins — there is a new vegetable that invested in acting lessons: the lowly turnip.

I scored this exclusive interview with Miss Ruta Baga, the first turnip to earn her equity card.

Don’t you think turnips are a joke compared to pumpkins?

When I googled ‘Trump pumpkin head,’ there were 1,050,000 hits compared to only 256,000 for ‘Trump turnip head.’ Pumpkins are aligned with Trump four times more than turnips, yet the same people photoshopping Trump’s face onto a pumpkin would rather wait in line at Starbucks and fork over $12 for a Pumpkin Spice Latte than taste a turnip. I rest my case.

How do you answer the criticism that you are an all-white vegetable?

People forget how diversified turnips are during the summer when our greens are on the menu. This delicious delicacy is as nutritious as foul-tasting kale that boasts superfood status. And Ruta is a Hebrew name that means ‘friend’ so we also represent a religious minority, extending the root of friendship to everyone we encounter.

Some people say turnip doesn’t smell good enough to take center stage. What is your answer to this dilemma?

Have you ever smelled the performance of plain pumpkin without the benefit of makeup and wardrobe? I didn’t think so. You can add cinnamon and brown sugar to a lima bean and elicit a standing ovation, so I know there is hope for the turnip.

Do you think turnip can overcome its stereotype?

I’ve heard rumors that turnip has been typecast forever into a supporting role, but how much acting ability does it take to sit on a porch with a candle shining through a crude cutout? For a turnip to go beyond the boiled dinner and become a headliner is a giant step for root vegetables, something a squash could never accomplish.

How do you address concerns that you aren’t photogenic enough for the food industry?

I admit a photo of a field of turnips doesn’t have the same impact as hundreds of pumpkins lounging on a hillside, but when you think about how hollow they are with all that stringy goo inside, the rosy blush of a turnip is quite attractive. And you can’t deny turnips are much more slender, fitting into Hollywood culture better than the chunky pumpkin.

How can you displace the pumpkin in folklore and fiction?

I didn’t fall off the turnip truck yesterday. I know there is a lot to overcome. Children feed on a steady diet of deception; thinking their baby brother or sister was found in a pumpkin patch, fearing a witch will turn them into a pumpkin, and watching Cinderella’s carriage transform into a pumpkin at midnight. To make matters worse, they watch Charlie Brown’s disappointment every year when The Great Pumpkin fails to make an appearance. With stories as sad and scary as these, I’m confident turnips can indoctrinate our youth with more positive tales enticing future generations to explore the unlimited commercialism of the turnip.

Miss Baga called a halt to the interview, muttering something about an important meeting with Johnson and Johnson. She is negotiating a deal to introduce Turnip Spice Listerine breath strips into the market, providing a welcome reprieve from pumpkin flavored everything.

— Molly Stevens

Molly Stevens arrived late to the writing desk, but is forever grateful her second act took this direction instead of adult tricycle racing or hoarding cats. She blogs at www.shallowreflections.com, where she skims over important topics, like her love affair with white potatoes and why she saves user manuals.

The day the wheel fell off

On a recent visit with my mom, the subject turned to childhood stories. Fresh from a trip to the principal’s office, my eight-year-old daughter was keen to hear of Nana’s long-ago misdeeds.

My mom had some pretty good yarns: The time she ditched school to spend her lunch money at the candy store. The time she grabbed the school nurse’s glasses from her face and threw them to the ground.  My daughter — who had never done anything this bad — grinned broadly. She had already heard and savored the exploding golf ball story, which featured her uncle as a small boy cowering behind a shrub.

“I have a story about your mom,” my mom said ominously.

Wait, what?

“When your mom was a teenager — ”

Oh no.

I had not been a “bad” teenager, exactly. I was just a normal, depressed teenager who could not see the point of anything.

During those years, I perfected a sort of passive resistance. It was a dull life, comprised entirely of sins of omission. While others were sneaking into bars or driving across the border into Mexico, I was not standing for the Pledge of Allegiance, not going to class, and not doing my homework. When we read Herman Melville’s Bartleby the Scrivener, about a terrible employee who refused to do every single thing asked of him, I was the only in person in class who assumed he was the hero.

Why any of this would be of interest to an eight-year-old, I did not know. But the story continued (“. . . she had this old car”), and then I knew.

My first car was an old blue Pontiac sedan. It looked vaguely disreputable: a car to be raced across the desert – its panels stuffed with bags of cocaine – hastily dismantled, and then set on fire. Instead I drove it around town, buying sodas with my best friend.

“One day, your mom said, ‘The front right wheel seems wobbly.  It feels like it’s going to fall off.’ I answered, ‘Don’t be ridiculous. Wheels never just fall off.’”

I was driving down a main road when the right front wheel fell off.  My friend’s half of the car – the passenger side – fell to the ground with a thud. The wheel rolled away, and the axle hit the street and made a horrible scraping sound.

The moment I realized what happened, I was mad. They told me the wheel wouldn’t fall off! This was an outrage on every level!

My friend asked if we should pull over. No, we would not be pulling over. Now that I knew I could trust nobody and nothing, I was going to do the one thing in my power – I was going to act! – and keep my foot on the gas.

“I don’t know why I didn’t pull over,” I now remarked.

“You were just very determined,” said my mom.

Fueled by rage, or what the British would call sheer bloody-mindedness, I drove my three-wheeled car a half-mile or so to my friend’s house. The axle scraped along, a grinding soundtrack to my inner feelings. Once there, I called my mom and announced bitterly: “The wheel fell off.”

The car was never drivable again, but I had learned a valuable lesson: Even if the wheel falls off, keep driving. If you want to badly enough, you can still get there.

My daughter regarded us, her forebears: a determined person and a violent criminal.

Actually (she appeared to think), that sounded about right.

– Maya Sinha

Maya Sinha is a humor columnist for The Davis Enterprise. Raised in rural New Mexico, she was a staff writer at The Santa Fe Reporter before going to law school in California, where she now lives with her family. You can contact Maya at maya.s.hoffman@gmail.com.

Oh my God, what shall I wear?

When my daughter informed me she was marrying in Spain, I thought, Wow, I have no castanets! But the real problem became what on earth would I wear? Traditional mother of the bride dresses tend to be, you know, ugly. Though I clocked in at 60 years, I wanted to look my youthful best.

The Frock

“I want a dress to surprise — a dress to dance the night away in — with a silver-templed Flamenco dancer,” I told my friend, Kathy.

Kathy said, “Cut the fantasies, girl, and start looking for shape wear. Even with your commendable weight loss for this wedding, you may want to cinch in a few pounds.”

Kathy and I had spent years fighting the bulge and I knew she was just trying to keep it real.

The next day, I tried on a shimmery blue, skin tight, sheath in Nordstrom’s wedding shop. I turned several times in front of the tri-fold dressing room mirror — you know, the kind that shows every ounce of flesh? The lighting turned everything green, including my tongue, which I stuck out at the mirror. I looked like a baby pachyderm.

I came into the hallway to see if I looked better in that mirror. The saleswoman looked me over with a semi-polite sneer said, “Perhaps a foundation garment would help.”

I looked up and down her bony frame, returned to the dressing room, and snapped the door shut.

The next week, I took Kathy along to help. In three hours, we had tried on nearly every dress in the mall. The flippy skirt. The twirly short dress. The swirly long dress. Slinky one-piece jumpsuit.  (Ok, I admit, at that point, we had lost it.)

“You’ll find the right dress,” Kathy said, as we headed for the parking lot. “There’s a dress for you out there, somewhere.”

Thankfully, Kathy was right. The next week, I found it, in — do not gasp — Target. The Spanish proletariat would surely appreciate my economy, wouldn’t they? I asked myself. It was a simple black “stretchable” sheath, sleeveless with low v-neckline. What appeared to be, on the hanger, a dress I should never wear fit very nicely.

The Dancing Shoes

I knew I couldn’t dance all night without the right shoes.  I’ve spent a lifetime trying to find wide shoes in a skinny shoe universe.

A red strappy pair, I thought.

I went to all the shoe shops in my area and tried dozens of pumps, sling backs and slides. Not one fit.

Finally, and not a day too soon, I found them at Macys. Red, sexy! A strap around the ankle.

“I always wanted a strap around my ankle,” I said to the air.

A young male store clerk watched me try them on and said, “Honey, you don’t want your pinky toe sticking out of those shoes.”

I looked down and indeed, my pinky toe was hanging out.  I wanted to put my pinky toe in his eye because, at that point, I was desperate. Though the shoes fit snug, I bought them.

The next week I visited my trusty shoe repair man.

“Joe, find a way to make these shoes fit.” I said.

Joe said he would subject them to his super stretch machine.

“Don’t come back for five days though,” he told me.  “That’s how long it’ll take for these babies to fit.”

The “Silhouette”

Kathy was right.  I needed shape wear. For the right “silhouette,” as the fashion world calls it. I found a light-weight garment called a “total body wrap.” It claimed to suck in the hips, the rear, the thighs, and the stomach. The trick, of course, was to tuck them all in at once. Getting it on was akin to wrestling a bear. Getting it off was heaven. I wanted the “silhouette” it provided, so I bought it anyway.

As I was leaving the store, I spied a silver shawl with threads of red and pink woven through it. And a lovely red organza rose pin for the slightly over exposed cleavage. Perfect. I was so happy, I hugged the lady in front of me in the checkout line.

Later, I sent Kathy an email. “The wedding attire is complete!”

She wrote back, “I knew you could do it! Brava!”

Now, I thought, if I can walk, talk, breathe and pee through the long hours from the ceremony to the farewells, I will be the most successful mother of the bride ever.

— Kaye Curren

Kaye Curren writes humor and essays for various blogs and magazines and on her website at www.writethatthang.com. This piece is an excerpt from her upcoming book, A Wedding in Spain: A Mother’s Journey.

Lions and tigers and beers, Oh, my!

In the immortal words of Dr. Doonothing, otherwise known as yours truly, if I could talk to the animals, what a neat achievement that would be. But would a tiger or a camel, bird, reptile or mammal, really, truly want to talk to me?

That’s what I hoped to find out, without being eaten in the process, during my recent trip to the Bronx Zoo, where I trekked with my wife, Sue; our younger daughter, Lauren; and our granddaughters, Chloe, 4, and Lilly, 11 months, both of whom were first-time visitors who soon learned that some of the most fascinating creatures walked on two legs and talked to the animals with a New York accent.

We heard them chatter (most of what they said was either incomprehensible or unrepeatable) during a stampede into the zoo, which was overrun with humans because it was Wednesday, when admission is free and the animals get to see what wildlife is really like.

The first denizens we saw were bison, which were once almost hunted to extinction, prompting Lauren to remark, “They make really good burgers.”

Then we flew into the World of Birds, which housed, among other fine feathered friends, a guira cuckoo.

“Who’s a cuckoo?” I asked Chloe, who looked up at me and chirped, “Poppie!”

The next exhibit was Tiger Mountain, featuring a massive Amur (or Siberian) member of the species that earned its stripes when Chloe commented, “Just like Tick and Tock, the Tiger Twins,” referring to the feline siblings who star in a book that teaches kids how to tell time.

By then it was time for lunch (not, thank God, for the tiger, which looked directly at me and licked its chops), so we found a shady spot and gobbled up turkey sandwiches. I didn’t feel guilty because turkeys are among the few animals that don’t reside at the zoo. It wouldn’t have been the case with bison burgers.

As we were finishing, a visitor started yelling at one of her kids (not the goat variety), who ran off faster than a cheetah, further incensing the woman, who brayed, “My house is more of a zoo than this place!”

The scene drove me to drink, so I went to the watering hole and ordered three beers for the adults in our group.

“May I please see an ID?” Tiffany D. asked me.

“God bless you!” I gushed. “I haven’t been carded in decades.”

“You’re looking young in those sunglasses and that hat,” she said with a wink and a smile. “In fact,” added Tiffany, who couldn’t have been more than 30, “you’re looking younger and younger all the time.”

“I’m going to come back,” I said after I paid her (and left a nice tip).

“OK!” said Tiffany. “Come back and I’ll card you again.”

As we strolled off, a woman pushing a stroller stopped so her young daughter could say hello to Chloe and Lilly, each of whom was in a stroller, too.

“That’s a good idea,” the merry mom said when she saw our refreshments.

“You’re going to get a beer?” I asked.

“Of course,” she answered. “Why do you think I come to the zoo?”

Another woman passed by with her kids in tow and said, “I wish someone would push me around in a stroller.”

Sue, who worked up a sweat pushing Chloe, said, “It’s a good thing I go to the gym.”

A good thing, indeed, because there was plenty more to see, including a polar bear, two grizzly bears, several giraffes, a herd of zebras and a caravan of camels, which Chloe liked because, as she noted while the beasts of burden masticated disgustingly, “It looks like they’re chewing gum.”

The only creatures smart enough not to come out were the lions, which disappointed everyone because they were, naturally, the mane attraction. But we did hear them roar from wherever they were hiding, which I hoped wasn’t behind my car, where we headed after a long but exciting day.

If I weren’t driving, I would have gone back for another beer so Tiffany D. could card me again. At the zoo, it’s called animal magnetism.

— Jerry Zezima

Stamford Advocate humor columnist Jerry Zezima is the author of three books. Visit his blog at www.jerryzezima.blogspot.com. Email: JerryZ111@optonline.net.

Growing up with Playboy

Hugh Hefner, founder of Playboy magazine, has died at age 91. His passing stirred up memories of Playboy from my youth.

I was about 13 when a bunch of my friends and I pooled our pocket change to buy our first copy of Playboy.

We were embarrassed to look at the magazine together, so though some perverse logic, the group decided to cut up the magazine and we all got different sections. Because I was the youngest, I wound up with sections on proper attire, the Playboy Philosophy, and an interview with General Tito of Yugoslavia and no photos, except of Tito.

We discovered in that issue that Playboy was opening Playboy gentleman clubs all over. For $100 a year, a sophisticated and debonair gent could get a Playboy key that allowed you entrance to any club in the world to hobnob with celebrities and watch the Playboy “Bunny” waitresses do the “Bunny Dip” as they served drinks.

We couldn’t afford a key and besides they weren’t opening a club in Youngstown, Ohio, so, we opened our own Playboy Club.  We found an old shed, painted the door gold and put a Playboy Bunny symbol on it.

It wasn’t much of a bunny hutch. It was actually an old chicken coop — with chickens still in it. But that didn’t stop us. We just hung up some “Bunny pictures,” kept the lights low and pretended we were in a swanky Playboy Club.

I have to say, though, the chickens made lousy hostesses. They were always getting the orders wrong. And when we strapped these little bunny ears on, they just looked plain ridiculous. Plus, they would peck at you whenever you tried to order a drink.

Nevertheless, we’d go to our club once a day and sit around old card tables on wooden boxes and order dry Martini’s that tasted like Cherry Cola and discuss the Playboy Philosophy. Most people remember Playboy as being all nude pictures but it actually provided social advice to the young men of the era through the Philosophy and Playboy Advisor.

For example, we learned things like a gentleman on a date always walked next to street with the lady away for the curb to protect her from being splashed by puddles from the road. But we all knew the real reason was if a runaway car careened off the street unto the sidewalk, the guy would get killed first.

Some of the stuff in the magazine made no sense to us. The Playboy adviser would say, “your tie tack should always be in the middle of the ‘shirt placket’ so it centered the front of your Windsor knotted tie.”

“What do you think a ‘placket’ is?” I would ask. “I don’t know,” my buddy Mike would respond. “What’s a tie tack? And who’s Windsor?”

We diligently read the magazine’s advice on how many blue, black and brown suits we should have in our wardrobe, even though we probably didn’t have one suit between the six of us. And we became knowledgeable connoisseurs of fancy cars and stereo systems long before we reached the financial ability to buy any of those things.

The club lasted for a few years until we got to dating age and could drive cars. That’s when we abandoned our Playboy Club and chose reality.

— Myron Kukla

Myron Kukla is the author of several books of humor including Guide to Surviving Life available online at: https://squareup.com/store/myronkuklabooks. Email him at myronkuklabooks@gmail.com.

Spare us the asparagus

This year, my wife and I made a surprise trip to New England so that I could accept an award from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists in Manchester, New Hampshire.

I suspected that the prize would probably involve a lamp shaped like a body part, but I was incredibly honored to be recognized by this great organization. My wife and I immediately jumped at an excuse to escape from our usual exhilarating activities like de-pooping litter boxes, scraping toxic sludge out of rain gutters and serving as our daughters’ personal Uber drivers.

When we arrived at Boston’s Logan International Airport and collected our baggage, our first stop was the car rental center, where we picked up a cute, little Ford Fiesta. The charm quickly wore off, though, when we climbed in and were almost overcome with a pungent aroma. Being the litter box connoisseurs that we are, we immediately recognized the stench of cat urine. Oh, well, at least we felt at home.

Speaking of urinous odors, we noticed while driving through New England that asparagus is a big deal here. There were roadside farm stands featuring asparagus, asparagus festivals, and even a dairy selling asparagus ice cream. Now, I like asparagus as much as the next guy. I consider it the Don King of vegetables, and to me, it tastes like the love child of an English pea and a green bean. But asparagus ice cream? Clearly, these people need to experience the wholesome, natural bounty of my native Texas — like corn dogs and Frito pie.

While resisting this obvious example of collusion between Russia and the asparagus industry to convince me to eat healthy green vegetables, we decided to use the opportunity of being in New England to visit a few historical sites, like the Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst, Massachusetts. As a literature nerd, I considered it quite a treat to visit the home of this iconic American poet whose works have been inspiring teachers and anesthetizing their students for decades. We even saw Emily Dickinson’s chamber pot in her bedroom, where she presumably wrote many of her 1,800 poems. Ok, it probably wasn’t her actual chamber pot and probably didn’t inspire her to write “There came a wind like a bugle,” but one can dream.

Next on our itinerary was a visit to the Robert Frost Stone House Museum in Shaftsbury, Vermont, where Frost wrote one of my all-time favorites, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.” It’s a poem about a creepy trespassing guy who repeats himself a lot and has a talking horse — according to an analysis by one of my more insightful students. Our journey through the beautiful Green Mountains was breathtaking and rather treacherous, with road signs warning about falling boulders, moose crossings and overzealous maple syrup vendors. Although we didn’t see a single jaywalking moose or tumbling boulder, we did pass about 800 guys on Harley-Davidson midlife crisiscycles. (They were probably headed to an asparagus festival.)

At Robert Frost’s home, since rampaging moose and killer boulders aren’t terrifying enough, the museum director engaged us in a sparkling and educational chat about ticks and Lyme disease. She even showed us some tick specimens in a jar on display near the gift shop. I’m not sure what disease-carrying parasites have to do with Robert Frost, but from this point on, I’m afraid the two will be forever linked in my mind — apologies to the Frost family.

When the night of the banquet arrived, I was nervous but proud to be in the company of folks who actually make a living with their writing skills, instead of just dribbling silly thoughts around to the embarrassment of friends and family. We were served a medley of baked salmon and — surprise — asparagus. (I was a little disappointed that moose wasn’t on the menu.) The keynote speaker of the night was Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Maureen Dowd, who offered a funny but blistering critique of Donald Trump. With an audience of media professionals, delivering this speech was like offering an array of catnip-laden fidget spinners to a clutter of adolescent felines.

Before we left the gathering to pack for home, my wife and I were actually able to meet Ms. Dowd and, since we are from Texas, visit with her about the Bush family, with whom she actually has a cordial relationship. She seems to get a kick out of having been nicknamed “The Cobra” by President George W. Bush, and she has repeatedly asked his father to take another skydive — with her. Chatting with Maureen Dowd was truly a fitting end to a great trip. I only wish I’d been quicker on my feet and asked for her thoughts on ticks and Lyme disease.

— 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 in his blog. Other than writing, his primary hobby is sleeping as late as possible.

Reflections of Erma